Why The Lonesome Really Get Sick Faster

Ben Lerner said it best in a recent column for my Web site about adapting your mind and body for stress: You can't separate your wellness from your emotions. Every feeling you have affects some part of your body. That's the lesson to take from a new Carnegie Mellon study that found first-year college students who feel the pangs of loneliness had a weaker immunity after taking a flu vaccine (apart from not taking or ever needing a flu shot in the first place).

The 86 students who participated in the study recorded their emotional responses on PDAs before and after they received a flu shot, along with providing saliva and blood samples over a two-week period. They also filled out questionnaires that calculated the size of their social network when the study began and during a four-month follow-up period.

Where I believe researchers went wrong: Although they admitted chronic loneliness can predict one's future health and well-being, they went down the wrong path, however, when trying to tie fewer social ties to a poorer immune response to one component of the flu vaccine independent of loneliness. Fact is folks, emotions like loneliness and unresolved anger are some of the most fundamental causes of disease around.

Certainly one of the best studies I've reviewed recently -- in which physical wounds take much longer to heal in marriages marred by hostility and conflict than those in which couples build a more pleasurable home life -- points this out in great detail.

One of the most effective tools you can use to protect your body and health while bolstering your self-esteem is one I use daily in my practice: The Emotional Freedom Technique. I urge you to learn how to use it with the help of my free online manual.

Science Daily May 2, 2005

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