The Danger of "Aloneness"

Today with mandated and chosen quarantines, the number of people isolated escalates. 
Maybe you find yourself alone during these holiday times. 

How does being isolated affect us?
People need time alone. 

Aloneness allows our brains to recharge. 
Dr. Sherrie Bourg Carter explains, “Being by yourself with no distractions gives you the chance to clear your mind, focus, and think more clearly.”

Aloneness increases productivity.
Remember when the fidgety student was isolated so he would not distract others and so he would not be distracted by others? Same principle.

Without the “distraction” of people, one can concentrate, accomplishing more work in shorter amount of time than with people present. 

Even the noise of an incoming text message is distracting. “Should I or should I not look?”
That momentary beep caused a chain of thoughts that distract from work.

Aloneness encourages creativity.
Many people, during the mandated quarantines, cleaned garages, baked, or finished crafts left for another time—things they weren’t able to do because of work and hectic schedules. (The line in California to drop off donations at thrift stores when they finally opened was blocks long!)

Studies show better ideas come from individuals than from brainstorming with others. 

Creative introverts are sensitive to criticism. They develop and sharpen their ideas alone before sharing without threat of interruption. They think differently and more creatively when alone.

One psychiatrist noted that today’s "micro-managed children" don’t know how to occupy themselves when they are alone. 
By scheduling a child’s every moment, risks are removed, and choices are already made. He doesn’t experience failure. 
His ability to “be alone” is hampered. 

Karin Arndt, Ph.D. said, “Many of us live in a state of chronic distraction from our experience….(Being alone) is about cultivating more unmediated presence to your experience and to the real, concrete world that surrounds you….We need to do the difficult, but necessary, work of regaining access to our experiential thickness and generating our own images and desires apart from those we’ve been spoon-fed by mass culture. Practicing the art of solitude—i.e. cultivating the ability to be alone well—presents us with an opportunity to reclaim the plenitude.”

We’ve become so busy and distracted with everything but real life, 
we don’t know how to be alone.

We must become comfortable with silence.

We’ve lost how to meditate: that careful, unhurried consideration of God’s Word and what He’s trying to tell us. 
We don’t get this in a Bible study with others.

Aloneness can strengthen relationships.
Time alone allows us to appreciate our time with others, rather than take it for granted.
When my husband would take the boys for a few hours to give me a break, all I did was watch the clock and calculate how soon they would return.
When they did return, I wondered if I even had a break! 
Many times the only break from them was a shower. They were l-o-n-g showers!
But helped me be ready to face the next fight.

Alone time allows us to consider, without peer pressure, other’s  choices and responses: “What do I believe or think? Are others swaying me to believe differently from what I should?”
"What should I do here?"

It gives us time to reflect and listen to God.

Although being alone is needed,
being alone for extended periods is harmful.

Aloneness leads to loneliness.
Adam was perfect, without sin. Yet he was lonely.
God made Adam a help-meet.
God made us sociable. 
God made us need Him and each other.

That social connection is essential for our growth and health.

Neuroscientist John Cacioppo explains, “The absence of social connection triggers the same primal alarm bells as hunger, thirst, and physical pain.”

Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner said, “Unlike being alone, loneliness often implies that you are looking for someone or something that you feel you need in order to feel secure and happy.”

Nearly half of 20,000 U.S. adults report they sometimes or always feel alone. 
Forty percent of survey participants told their relationships weren’t meaningful and they feel isolated.(According to a 2018 national survey by Cigna).

Is loneliness so dangerous?

Excessive aloneness makes us vulnerable to our inner critics.
Who is your worst critic?
Isolation allows those negative, self-critical thoughts to fester and breed.

Aloneness can bring depression.
Studies show that “a lonely brain is structurally and biochemically different. When someone is lonely, their neural responses to positive images and events get suppressed, so the world is perceived through a negative filter. We are more likely to believe that things are hopeless when we are lonely.”

Lack of social connection increases health risks as much as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or being alcohol dependent. 

Social isolation is twice as harmful to physical and mental health as obesity. 
(Perspectives on Psychological Science, Vol. 10, No. 2, 2015)].

Because of these findings, Australia, Denmark and the United Kingdom have launched efforts to bring experts, government agencies, community groups and skilled volunteers to educate citizens of loneliness effects.

In the most recent U.S. census report, more than a quarter of the population live alone—the highest rate ever recorded. 
More than half are unmarried. 
Volunteerism has decreased. (According to research done by the University of Maryland’s Do Good Institute.)
A greater percentage claim no religious affiliation.

Without this social interactions, loneliness multiplies!
More than 6,000 U.S. adults linked loneliness with dissatisfaction with family, social and community life. 
About 28% were dissatisfied with their family and feel lonely most of the time; 7% were satisfied with their family life.
Comparing their social and community life brought similar results. (According to Pew Research Center’s survey.) 
That does not bode well for all those who must stay at home during forced quarantines. Expect divorce rates to rise.

Social isolation was linked with adverse health including depression, poor quality sleep, impaired executive function, accelerated cognitive decline, poor cardiovascular function and impaired immunity at every stage of life. (Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B, Vol. 370, No. 1669, 2015).

Social isolation increases the risk of premature death by 30%. 
(American Journal of Epidemiology, Vol. 188, No. 1, 2019)]. 

Loneliness increased a person’s risk for dementia by 40%
(The Journals of Gerontology: Series B, online 2018). 

We have not even considered the increase of suicides during enforced alone times.

What’s to be done?
The government is not ignorant of these statistics when  they enforce mandatory isolation, required quarantines and restrict assembling.
They know depression, suicide and hopelessness escalate.

People NEED people.

People speak of health safety.
These statistics demonstrating our need to "get together" are real. 
COVID numbers are not.
(There are multitudes of reports describing how COVID numbers are screwed and falsified.) 

What other disease or illness do we quarantine the ENTIRE POPULATION, rather than those ill or susceptible?

How many people in nursing homes and hospitals died while family members could not be present?
They were left to die alone.
That is cruel!

What’s to be done?
While we seek to obey the government, in ways we should, the government is not seeking our best.
Nor is it honoring our amendment rights.

God told us not to “Forsake the assembly together” (Hebrews 10:25) for encouragement, worship and prayer. 

Our founding fathers recognized the importance of assembling together.
It wasn’t for tea and cookies that they assembled.
It went against their government.
They met in secret.
They knew its importance.
They recognized its consequences.
It brought our freedom.

Our freedoms are threatened now.
It's not an easy solution.

We need the Church.
We need each other.
A divided nation cannot stand.

Seek alternative ways to assemble.
Text, send cards or notes or emails to those for whom you are praying.
Keep communication flowing.
Seek God daily for His next step.
Listen for His answer.
Be ready to do what it takes to obey Him.

Christmas is the darkest time of year, especially for those who are alone.
God did not leave us alone.
He sent His Son, Emmanuel—God with us.

Not when God is near.


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Author of Biblical fiction, married to my best friend, and challenged by eight sons’ growing pains as I write about what matters.

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