If you have owned a dog you’ll appreciate the importance of socialising it. It will develop better behaviors and with every new experience and interaction that brings positive reinforcement, its confidence will grow.

Not socialising it runs the risk of having a scared, stressed and potentially sick dog.

It was increasingly noticeable during lockdown on my weekly supermarket shop that many people lost the skill to socialise. Heads were held low, focus was firmly on the aisles and any breeziness had been dulled. Not so the checkout where staff who were as sunny as ever, setting an example of social ease and jolliness. I suppose they were ‘out there’ from the beginning and had become used to the risk and fear.

Being someone who enjoys interaction and positive reinforcement, puppy style, there was a big void in this once-a-week outing. We thrive in community, in connection, in giving and receiving. Was everyone so content staying at home that they no longer seek sought exchange?

Loneliness can be crippling

Joey Bull by Darren Wheeler

Joey Bull by Darren Wheeler

A bigger problem than we realise

Figures concluded that during this period, 33% of women felt lonely. Logic suggests represented a recent increase, although, loneliness is known to be a leading reason women seek therapy, so clearly it was already a problem. A sociological study from pre-pandemic life shows that 25% of the population feel like they don’t have anyone to talk to about personal problems. And that sense of disconnection in women and men has only increased in 2020.

From a philosophical perspective, we were born alone and will leave alone. We are individual entities with our own emotions and responses but we congregate and perhaps coagulate under a collective consciousness influenced by social, cultural, economic relationships that both nourish and punish us.

From the body’s perspective, loneliness isn’t an external issue, it actually activates our neural pain matrix.

Not dissimilar to the network between trees that we are only recently discovering. Like them and dogs, we emit hormonal slow pulsing signals, pheromones and other scents. But down at my supermarket it seems like people have pulled in their antennas and there’s not much signaling going on.

In my work I come across a few aches and pains, some are passing but some persist and plenty of these are stress-related. The more stress, the longer the pain…

Most of us distract ourselves if we feel an uncomfortable emotion, whether immersing in our work, watching too much TV or pouring a few too many drinks. Any of which provide temporary relief and then another problem. We don’t give free rein to our emotions like children do, they brighten up in an afternoon, yet we manifest back pain for years.

But if you’re a lonely female with a bad back, you’re still better off than young males, who top the loneliness charts and probably new chronic conditions too. We have rightly been so worried about our senior population recently but there’s a secret sad group that has had less consideration.

Social connection is critical to wellbeing

Without it we become low, our immunity decreases, our cardiovascular system becomes stressed and longevity is impacted. That’s called a broken heart isn’t it?

To many people, fulfillment is spending time with friends and loved ones. Loneliness hurts, the more isolation, the more pain. Thank goodness exercise creates a cascade of hormones and neurotransmitters, builds real and virtual communities and keeps heart and mind healthy and buoyant.

For online of in-person training contact me through www.joeybull.com

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