Life slowly passes you by as you grow older. People move away, things change, and oftentimes you are left wondering if the world has somehow forgotten about you. It’s this kind of melancholy that affects not just your heart, but also your health.

Loneliness has been linked to chronic depression as well as Alzheimer’s disease, and run-of-the mill treatments have had low success rates, but ScienceDaily.com reports that a recent research from UCLA has shown that something as simple as meditation can help lessen emotional strain and circumvent a variety of ailments.

Senior study author Steve Cole of the UCLA Norman Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology worked with 40 adults from ages 55 to 85 and separated them into two groups. One group attended Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) sessions for two hours twice a week, where they learned present awareness, meditation, and breathing techniques, while the other group didn’t meditate at all. Results showed that those who meditated felt less lonely, and were actually healthier than those who didn’t.

Loneliness and the stress brought about it trigger genes and protein markers of inflammation such as C-reactive protein (CRP), which increases the risk of heart disease. Although inflammation is a natural reaction of the body when injured, chronic inflammation has been known to play a major part in pathological and psychological disorders.

"Our work presents the first evidence showing that a psychological intervention that decreases loneliness also reduces pro-inflammatory gene expression. If this is borne out by further research, MBSR could be a valuable tool to improve the quality of life for many elderly," Cole says.

This doesn’t just apply to seniors Loneliness a universal emotion, and if left unchecked may cause disorders that you wouldn’t even think of attributing to it. In order to stay physically, emotionally and psychologically healthy, make it a habit to have “quiet time” within the day when you forget about worries and be in the present. If these aren’t helping, and you think that what you’re feeling is bordering on chronic depression, visit your doctor right away in order to get proper help. The health of the mind and the heart has been many times linked to physical well-being, so do your best to take care of them.

(Photo by Nihan Aydin via sxc.hu)

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