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Health, Dr. Mao, Santa Monica, Columnist

Dr. Mao's Wellness Living: Coping With Loneliness To Increase Longevity

Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Courtesy Photo
Dr. Mao Shing Ni

Posted Oct. 8, 2012, 2:27 am

Dr. Mao Shing Ni / Mirror Columnist

We have long known that friends and family play an important role in our daily lives and social support system, but there is a definite connection between people as the foundation of positive mental health and increased longevity. Consider everything you do for one another, from sharing meals to weekend adventures to emotional support. Sure, there can be a lot of work involved, but these loving relationships not only help us thrive, they actually add years to our lives – especially as we move past middle age. It is no wonder centenarians are beloved by their family members and friends!

Connect Powerfully With Others

Here are some simple tips to help you or your loved ones cope with loneliness, and transform isolation into a positive and emotionally bountiful situation!

1. Give a hug

If you feel emotionally isolated, or just want to go the extra mile in your connections, then try giving out more hugs to your friends and family. Human touch, what I like to call real “hands on” healing, has been recognized as a powerful technique for centuries. Touch has been proven to elicit elevated production of endorphins, growth hormones, and DHEA—all of which lengthen your life span. Need another reason? Touch also lowers the levels of stress hormones that can shorten life and attack our immune system.

2. Cultivate Tolerance: Forgive and forget

Oftentimes, we forego making deep connections with people throughout the day because of shyness, presumption, or intolerance. A great tool to both expand your emotional flexibility and support your longevity is to cultivate tolerance. Tolerance increases our abilities to flow with the ups and downs of life. This way we are less affected by disappointments and traumas, and less likely to become upset with other people. Being able to transform stressful or negative situations between yourself and others into positive situations with a beneficial outcome will help you roll with the punches in life and make you valuable company for the entire journey! A simple way to remember not to hold onto stress is to repeat the adage “forgive and forget,” thus moving on emotionally and developing strength of character.

3. Discover your passions

A negative and depressing social environment can sap the pleasures from life and create a lonely way of being. If you find yourself in a positive and nurturing situation, do everything you can to sustain it. But, if you’re in negative surroundings, take whatever steps are necessary – only you can identify them in your particular case – to develop a more life-affirming situation. An easy way to start creating a more loving and connected lifestyle is by taking some time for yourself and really getting to know what your passions are. Consider places you want to visit, your dream job or project, or what would make an ideal day for you. Make a list of these and other important projects or interests that you would like to explore more fully. Assign each item a number based on its importance to you, from one to five (or however many items you list). Now think seriously about how to achieve the most important ones, and work your way down. Once you begin to support yourself and your goals, you’ll begin to feel confident, fulfilled, and ready to connect with the people that your new energy will undoubtedly bring you into contact with!

4. Add years with a pet

Most people know that having a pet companion can enrich their lives, but it turns out that pets can actually give your longevity a boost, as well. Pets can help lower our stress levels, decrease blood pressure, support healthy cholesterol, improve our moods, and give an extra boost to our immunity! A recent study by the Minnesota Stroke Institute found that being a cat owner could significantly decrease the chance of dying from heart disease. Pet owners have also been found to recover more speedily after surgery. Having pets around gets us to move, laugh, and reduce stress by taking a moment to be tranquil and diffuse negative emotions. Having somebody at home who is happy to see you can instantly improve the mood of anyone, especially once we’re older and might be living a more isolated lifestyle.

May you live long, live strong, and live happy!

Dr. Mao Shing Ni, best known as Dr. Mao is a bestselling author, doctor of Oriental Medicine and board certified anti-aging expert. He has appeared regularly on “Dr. Oz,” “The Doctors,” and “EXTRA.” Dr. Mao practices acupuncture, nutrition and Chinese medicine with his associates at the Tao of Wellness in Santa Monica and Newport Beach. Dr. Mao and his brother, Dr. Daoshing Ni founded Tao of Wellness more than 25 years ago in addition to also founding Yo San University in Marina del Rey. To make an appointment for evaluation and treatment please call 310.917.2200 or you can email Dr. Mao at contact@taoofwellness.com. To subscribe to his tip-filled newsletter please visit www.taoofwellness.com.

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