I’m not usually one for clickbait titles like this. But every now and then, something pops up that is so unbelievable that I need everyone to hear it. And this isn’t even a bait and switch. Shopping online will make you live longer.
Let me explain.
It is 2022, and scientists are just discovering how much your sense of wellbeing influences your physical health. The research shows that almost everyone feels way too busy all of the time. Scientists have even come up with a phrase to describe this condition: time famine. In the western world where we lack almost nothing, the one thing we can’t manufacture for ourselves is more time.
And this matters. People who feel short on time are far more likely to experience depression or anxiety than those people who have time up their sleeves. So, scientists rounded up a huge sample size and asked them to self-report on their own happiness. They corralled the top 10% to find the magic ingredient to happiness, and can you guess what the only common factor was? Yup, they had time to socialise. Being around other people is the key determinant of your own happiness.
Now, at this point, I can imagine your eyes rolling. Thanks Floyd, you say. If I had more time, I would see my friends, but I’m stacked! This is where shopping online comes in. Let’s imagine you shop online at a discounted chemist like us, think of the time you’re saving.
- You aren’t stuck in traffic, or looking for a park
- You aren’t wandering around the shop looking for where the painkillers are on the shelf
- You aren’t stuck in the queue waiting for Maureen to finish asking about whether she needs Ibuprofen or Paracetamol (for the record, I love Maureen, but I get that you might not)
- When you’ve finished at the pharmacy, you don’t need to travel to the next shop. It’s just another tab away.
If you leverage the power of shopping online at a discounted chemist or a supermarket, or whatever else you need, you can save yourself hours throughout the week. This experience is something scientists call time affluence. I wonder if you have ever experienced this. A meeting is unexpectedly cancelled at the last minute. A task is taken off your plate and given to someone else. There is an inexplicable joy that fills the very fibre of your being. Well, shopping online makes you time affluent, and you are freed up to go and spend time with the people who matter.
Again, I can anticipate some pushback here. I’m not that needy, you think. Feeling a bit lonely isn’t the end of the world. You’re right. It isn’t. But it could be ending your world a lot sooner than you might have planned. Loneliness is a growing epidemic. In fact, people reporting a sense of loneliness and isolation has doubled since the 1980s. And this anguish on your mind translates to real health deterioration. Are you sitting comfortably? Good. The physical consequence of loneliness is about the same as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day. Fifteen. One five. Most of us would never dream of doing something so dangerous, but we are perfectly content with our feeling of isolation. Here is what is around the corner if you don’t address your loneliness:
- Increased risk of inflammation: That means aches and pains stick around a lot longer than they ordinarily might.
- Abnormal autoimmune responses: This means your body might send out the army against itself when there are no foreign bodies threatening your health. It’s a civil war. Alternatively, it might fail to deploy the troops when something malevolent has entered your system. Either way, not ideal.
- Disrupted sleep: When your sleep is irregular, your risk of various cancers skyrocket. Your concentration span and cardiovascular output is severely impaired the next day, so whether you work with your hands or at a desk, your professional life suffers.
- Depression: We are social creatures. We were never meant to go through life alone, and it is a hop skip and a jump from feeling lonely, to feeling worthless
- Anxiety: The panic arises when we perceive that there is no safety net. Biologically this comes from the fact that we need company to survive in the wild. A sabre tooth tiger is much less likely to sneak up when someone is literally watching your back.
- Higher stress levels: See above.
- Earlier cognitive decline: When the brain spends so much its life in fight or flight mode, operating in states of panic, it starts to lose its pep after a while. Imagine driving a car in first gear at 100 km per hour for a few hours. Eventually, something gives out. There are strong links being drawn between loneliness and Alzheimers.
- Suicide: Tragically, a common factor in suicide is that the individual perceives that nobody cares about them. When we retreat from the company of our loved ones, it is easy to start telling ourselves these stories which are not actually true.
- Alcoholism: This is one of the first ways we seek to numb the pain of isolation. We seek refuge in inebriation, but this is just the beginning of a vicious cycle.
- Cardiovascular disease: Bizarrely, isolation can literally break your heart. The University of York found that loneliness increases your risk of a heart attack by 29%.
- Stroke: The same study found that you are 32% more likely to suffer a stroke if you feel isolated from your social network.
- Diabetes: A study of 4000 people found that those who self-reported as lonely were more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.
As you can see, this is no laughing matter. We need to win back time, and we need to use that to get into the company of our loved ones. Your health depends on it. Whether that be shopping online at a discounted chemist, or automating your supermarket delivery, it is the little things that count.
Pick up the phone, and call someone. Life is to short to feel alone.
All the best,