IN DECEMBER, a woman in Tulsa, Okla, used a Craigslist to post a plea for holiday companionship. ''Anybody need a grandma for Christmas?'' she wrote.

''I'll even bring food and gifts for the kids! I have nobody and it really hurts.''

More than three in five working Americans report feeling lonely. Now that the country is facing a disease outbreak that demands measures like ''social distancing,'' working from home and quarantines, that epidemic of loneliness could get even worse.

A paradox of this moment is that while social distancing is required it contain the spread of the coronavirus, it may also contribute to poor health in the long run.

So while physical isolation will be required for many who have Covid-19 or have been exposed to it, it is important that we don't let such measures cause social and emotional isolation, too.

The Health Resources and Services Administration  caution that loneliness can bee as damaging to health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Feelings of isolation and loneliness can increase the likelihood of depression, high blood pressure, and death from heart disease. They can also effect the immune system's ability to fight infection - a fact that's especially relevant during a pandemic.

Studies have shown that loneliness can activate our fight-or-flight function, causing chronic inflammation and reducing the body's ability to defend itself from viruses.

Around the world, people are being asked to work from home, universities are switching to virtual classes and large gatherings are being cancelled.

These are key strategies to prevent transmission, but they can come at a social mental-health cost : furthering our sense of isolation from one another, and making us forget that we're in this together.

Already we're beginning to see suspicion and paranoia play out in public spaces. People are struggling with allergies report that every cough elicits glares.

In Sydney, Australia, reports say that a man died after he collapsed outside a Chinese restaurant and onlookers refused to perform CPR.

Asian-Americans have reported racist comments and harassment, based on the wrongheaded belief that they're more likely to be carrying the coronavirus.

There is evidence that the more isolated people feel, the less likely they are to take measures to protect their fellow citizens.

A study conducted in Germany found that, among a cohort of people aged 60 and up, increased loneliness was associated with lower rates of flu vaccination.

In Taiwan, a feeling of closeness with neighbours was associated with the intention to get a vaccine, or to wash hands more frequently. 

The honor, sadness and serving of the latest Global Operational Research on Writing and opinions in troubled times, continues. The World Students Society thanks author Abdullah Shihipar, Brown University.


Post a Comment

Grace A Comment!