The pandemic brought loneliness and isolation to the forefront of the discussion about physical and mental well-being in western countries. But the pandemic only exacerbated a trend that already existed in modern culture. The mindset of “survival of the fittest” and individualism sow the seeds for the crumbling down of communities.
Your brain developed way before capitalism and individualism were thought of. Most of its development took place when your ancestors lived “on the go” hunting and gathering their food in nature exposed to the elements and to predator animals. This is why your brain is convinced that there is power in numbers.
When you are lonely, especially if you are in a competitive culture like capitalism your brain is convinced that you are not safe. This way of experiencing life as unsafe is not dependent on how high is your salary or how much money you got saved in your bank account. If you do not have the emotional and spiritual support of a community your body is under stress.
Some of the signs that your body is under stress or in its other name the “fight, flight or freeze response are:
- High blood pressure
- Digestion slows down – breakdown and assimilation are inhibited.
- High blood sugar
This is a survival response that was there to help you cope with threats that could be fatal as meeting the saber tooth tiger.
But this survival response may become your downfall if your brain feels unsafe most of the time because you are lonely. If you take a good look at the conditions that are created in the body while you are under stress you will recognize the four major health complaints of the modern world and the two major causes of death, namely heart disease and diabetes.
Research shows that the #1 factor that determines how long you are going to live is not how much kale you eat or if you exercise but if you are part of a community.
Feeling disconnected and lonely increases your risk of using alcohol and or drugs to numb the pain, stress, and anxiety that are associated with loneliness.
Nearly 60 million Americans feel isolated and lonely. Which I believe points to the real pandemic.
How to move from loneliness to community?
- Volunteer to work with and for others in your town. Volunteering will not only give you the opportunity to connect with other people in your community but also may raise your “happiness index”. Research found that generosity increased happiness. Happiness in turn will make you healthier.
“From the viewpoint of a private property economy, the “gift” is deemed to be “free” because we obtain it free of charge, at no cost. But in the gift economy, gifts are not free. The essence of the gift is that it creates a set of relationships”
~Robin Wall Kimmer
- Do you have a hobby or something you would like to learn about? Join a local group of like-minded people.
Recently, I joined “She Built This ”, a group of women entrepreneurs. I can bring my questions and get some insights into what other women business owners are dealing with. But my big take from the group is the feeling that I am not the only woman that faces the decision-making and challenges that are associated with owning your own business.
- A good place to meet your community is the Farmer’s Market. If you shop in the supermarket you do not need to converse with anybody other than the cashier, and with the new “development” of self check out not even with her.
During the pandemic, many people got used to ordering their groceries to be delivered home.
In the farmer’s market, you get the opportunity to create a relationship with the farmers that grow your food and with other customers from your community.
The Concord Farmers Market is my happy place. I have attended the market for close to 10 years. During this time I developed close relationships with vendors and clients alike. I watched babies born and grow and shared the loss of friends.
Loneliness is almost a fundamental condition of the capitalist individualist culture because it puts you in competition with others. It thrives on the fear that there are not enough resources hence you need to hold them close to your chest.
But as you hold your goodies be it material, emotional or spiritual close to your heart your chest cave in and you close yourself to the world. The price of greed becomes loneliness.
Ready to let go of the consumer lifestyle and join a community that acknowledge the gift of life as part of nature?