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HOLIDAY LONELINESS CAN BRING ON DEPRESSION

A 15 MINUTE PHONE CALL COULD BE A LIFELINE

 

Whether we want to admit it or not, holidays do not always mean happiness. Just this morning, this classified add appeared, "HOLIDAY BLUES? Feeling down? Need to talk, for sympathy and comfort call MOM."

What has happened to our society when someone has to pay $2.99 a minute to share his or her feelings?

While the task of buying gifts for loved ones has taken over our lives, we tend to block out anything that could ruin this festive time, like those friends and relatives who are sad lonely or ill.

Maybe, if more of us took a few minutes to consider the large percentage of our population who are forced to spend this special time alone, this sad situation would no longer exist.

Is loneliness dangerous to our health? According to researchers at Sweden's Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, loneliness can actually break your heart. After monitoring one hundred fifty middle-aged men with ischemic heart disease, for ten years, they concluded that loneliness and social isolation was responsible for triggering twenty deaths.

In the book "Your Emotions and Your Health" by Emrika Padas, Dr. Harold Wise talks about his great belief in what he calls the "therapeutic family reunion."

When he studied the roots of the healing process in tribal medicine, the clan was always involved. He says that this is a concept that is hard for twentieth-century North American culture to understand.

"As I began to work more and more in this area, I realized how much we underestimate the power of the family. For a million years people have lived in families, and only in the last hundred or so years have people split up. But the influence is still there, the patterning is still there."

He explained, "The oldest healing form, in tribal medicine, involved bringing the whole clan together and working things through for 24, or 72 hours. That was the way they did it. When anyone was ill among the old Hawaiian healers, they would regard it as a problem not only of the person, but of the whole system. They would ask, 'What's going on in the family that makes one of its branches sick?'

Dr. Wise explains that this healing effect takes place at every family gathering, even when it is for a shorter period of time and involves few people. "If I can get a couple to sit down in a relaxed way, not so they're feeling any obligation, give each other a little massage for five minutes each day, I can show them that their blood pressure drops."

If you believe that people do not need to be touched and that there is nothing healing going on during the process, there are 25 researchers at the University of Miami School of Medicine's Touch Research Institute that are eager to change your mind.

They found that when children with diabetes were massaged by there parents for only one month, there was a marked decrease in there glucose levels, plus both participants showed lower levels of depression and anxiety.

Bulimic teen-aged girls, who had been massaged regularly experienced less anxiety and depression, felt better about their bodies. While their serotonin levels increased, stress hormones decreased.

When a group of workers who spent a 15 minutes relaxing were compared to workers who spent the same amount of time being massaged, the second group could finish math problems in half the time with fewer errors, and their anxiety levels kept consistantly low for over a month.

Is loneliness something you must live through to understand? Hasn't everyone at sometime had this sad experience? Do we so quickly forget what it was like?

From all that I have read on this subject, when there are no family members available, we have the same healing reactions with close friendships. Even when strangers comforted each other the therapeutic effects where evident.

This Christmas it would be wonderful if we could show our gratitude by sharing the precious things that make our lives full.

If you are a mother with four or five noisy little ones, think for a minute how lonely it would be if suddenly those sweet voices and giggles disappeared. There are people who would love to spend a few hours listening to the laughter of a child.

If you have a cuddly dog or cat, remember that petting them for ten minutes will lower a person's blood pressure. How about inviting an animal lover over and share your gift.

For those with infants, let others hold them. There is nothing like the sweet smell and warmth of a baby in your arms to renew a person's belief in humanity.

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