from Rev. Bruce Wood - June 2016
in News First — our monthly church newsletter
recent study by US researchers on the effect of loneliness on people found that
people who lack friends and relationships of substance are just as likely to
risk an early death, as heavy drinkers and smokers.
authors of this research came up with the surprising findings after reviewing
medical articles involving more than 300,000 people. The lead researcher,
Professor Timothy Smith, from Brigham Young University, said scientists have
known that social support does predict mortality for several decades. But
what is new about this research, is that 140 medical research studies were
summarised into one - which provided conclusive evidence for their findings.
the study, the effect of loneliness was found to be ‘about twice the risk of
being obese - about twice the risk of not exercising physically - and about
equivalent to being alcoholic’ - and that ‘clearly relationships have much
to do with our wellbeing and happiness, but that this research predicts our
physical health to that extent, is remarkable.’
study also found that people with a good social network have a 50% chance of
living longer than those with poor or insufficient social relationships - and
recommend that social wellbeing be evaluated as seriously as diet, smoking and
exercise, by medical practitioners and that hospitals make support networks an
integral part of a patient's treatment plan.
Australia, Lifeline, Beyond Blue, and Kids Helpline have for some years
considered loneliness a serious issue in our community - and suggest that
everyone feels lonely from time to time, but long periods of loneliness or
social isolation can have a negative impact on your physical, mental and social
lonely doesn’t mean that we have to be physically alone - some people feel
lonely in a crowded room. However, the depth of loneliness is not about
the amount of time we spend with other people, or alone - but instead is related
to the quality of our relationships. Are those relationships supportive
and life-giving - do they offer companionship and engagement - do they provide
encouragement and reassurance - are they a source of joy and delight?
feel lonely is a normal emotion - it’s an overwhelming feeling of being
separated from those around us, and often associated with the growing up
process, or moving out of home, or going to a new school, or other major changes
in our lives.
human beings we crave connection and yet it’s also easy to stay lost in
loneliness. However, when we wallow in our loneliness for extended periods
of time - or lament the gap between the relationships we wish we had, and the
reality of our present relationships, and do nothing about our situation - then
we risk serious detrimental effects on our mental and physical health.
Conversely, when we put time and energy into creating relationships of substance
- when we actively foster relationships that matter - then we bring a positive,
and constructive, and life-giving dimension to our lives, that will actively
benefit our physical and mental health.
a Christian community, we follow the example of Jesus and the way he treated
people. The Jesus model embraced people without condition - treated all
people with respect and with dignity, encouraged and supported them, as well as
challenging their thinking and their actions. He brought a sense of worth
and dignity and hope, to those who were without hope. He brought a sense
of belonging, to those who felt no place was home. And he brought a
feeling of companionship and fellowship, to those who knew well the deep ache of
as a church community, we offer connections and relationships that are more than
superficial - connections and relationships that bring a sense of belonging, a
sense of encouragement, and a sense of inspiration as we provide opportunities
for all to participate in our faith community.
Peace, Rev. Bruce Wood