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Why we all need friends…

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Friends are important. My friends have in no uncertain truth helped me survive the last few months. Without their love, support and presence in my life I am not sure that my mental health would have remained as intact ) but frayed) as it is. Friends have appeared from so many places, the long term ,soul touched friendships that have remained strong for many years and the people on the periphery of my life who have shown themselves to be kinder more thoughtful and of such importance that I would never have known without this most terrible experience of my life. 

Science has proven that having friendship can extend life expectancy and lower chances of heart disease,  it physically helps us to  survive. Friendship ignites the part of the brain that makes us feel good, which makes us want  and need to be close and interact with our friends. We release the ‘ feel good’ chemicals like dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin

Which in turn relieves stress and promotes happiness. 

Lonely people are more likely to die and to have heart disease , we are not designed as humans to be alone or solitary and thankfully in this modern age of technology we are open to a huge arena of possible friendships even if we are confined to home.  We are able to reach out and make ‘virtual’ long-distance friends which can help immensely in the small hours when close at hand friends are not available or when you are feeling isolated and fragile. 

At different stages in our lives we will make friends and leave them along the way, Life will twist and turn as we grow, have families, move areas and change.Some friendships will survive , some will flounder and people who were simply acquaintances will fade away with fond memories. 

If you are incredibly lucky one of your closest friendships will be your partner.The one who understands and respects your dreams and goals who  believes in you and supports even your tiniest , silliest ideas. The one who will listen to your fears and hopes and hold your heart safe. 

 

We all have some dark secrets in life , your friends are where they are absolutely safe. You can talk about your silly mistakes, family problems, simply pour your heart out knowing with a breath of kindness they will let it go and never hold against you.

Everybody goes through some difficult times when you need a shoulder to cry on. Friends will be there to listen to your nonsense talks and still acknowledge whatever you are saying to lighten your heart and calm your soul. They give advice ,show you the kindness that you need when you are in trouble and are the ones who understand you and no matter what the situation is surrounding you with positive energy.
I am so lucky, I have friends who love me just the way I am . They have seen me at my ugliest both physically and emotionally and in the worst situations in my life they flew to my side. . They know me inside out.
They know my weaknesses, flaws, dark past, everything and still, they are by my side.

Friends are so important because unlike family who have an obligation to us they love us unconditionally, they love without expecting anything in return. The times spent with them are likely the most memorable ones in our lives. My friends and I set out to make memories now and those are above anything that can be bought.

I'm a slightly deranged middle aged widow, living in the Cotswolds with two fabulously funny little dogs. A mother, grandmother, sister and friend. Determined to survive by writing to remember, to forget and to cope with grief. the memory of my husband supporting me, guiding me and probably laughing at me if there is a ‘somewhere’

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Health

The problem of Loneliness

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Loneliness is universally recognised as being part of the human condition. The emotion of sadness at being alone, can be felt, even when in the company of others.
People may spend hours brooding  about things that make them feel sad, angry or worried. Everyone feels lonely at times, but when transient loneliness becomes chronic, it is a problem  that may be damaging to health, leading to depression  and physical decline.
Since the start of the Pandemic, Society has experienced lockdowns, restricting freedom of movement and people have been unable to visit each other’s homes, unless in a “bubble”, a known contact deemed to be safe. This has led to social loneliness, which people with access to social media have sought to remedy with Zoom meetings,face time and Skype calls.
 
Dependent on the whims of electronic devices, people may comfort themselves with the knowledge, that their isolation will have an ending, while those experiencing emotional loneliness, may not have this, with which to look forward. They may be experiencing existential loneliness, confronting what philosophers such as Jean Paul Sartre see, as the absurdity of our existence in a meaningless world. Not surprisingly, this will lead to a great deal of anxiety.
While not feeling cosmic isolation, immigrants may miss their own countries and feel themselves to be outsiders, living in a foreign culture, leading to their cultural loneliness.
Faced with so much misery, what can be done? Self care and sharing the emotional load is the advice given on websites dealing with physical and mental health. Paul McCartney in 1966 brought loneliness to public attention with his song “Eleanor Rigby” about a woman who hid her distress from others by wearing ” a face that she keeps in a jar by the door”.  In later songs, McCartney offers words of encouragement to John Lennon’s son Julian in “Hey Jude” and he remembers the advice his mother Mary gave to him, in times of trouble, to “Let It Be”.
 
In 1988, Neil Diamond expressed his existential loneliness in the song “I Am I Said”, protesting the worth of his existence in an empty and uncaring universe. While we may be less eloquent than Paul McCartney and Neil Diamond, surely sharing our negative emotions is the way forward, to bring us out of Loneliness?

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Health

Other People’s Fears – how hard is it to have empathy?

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Often the fears of others, may seem irrational and disproportionate. I once had a young work colleague, who was so fearful of needles, that he fainted, if he caught sight
of an injection, being shown on a television programme. He had no bad health experiences, as far as I know, that would trigger this reaction.
 
Fear of needles is a serious handicap if it keeps people away from having medical procedures, including going to the dentist! In the pandemic, people who are not afraid of the vaccine itself, may be deterred from receiving it, due to fear of the needle used for the injection.
 
One of the most common fears is that of spiders. Are you a Miss Muffet? Although the nursery rhyme identifies a female, who is put off her curds and whey, the fear is not confined to girls! It probably stems from the days we lived in caves, when we feared intruders, like spiders and snakes.
 
 My daughter, when she lived in a top floor flat in Hong Kong, encountered a large tree spider. Obviously it lived in the tree and decided to explore the nearby building. She disturbed it lurking at the bottom of her wardrobe!
 
 Removing it was not the job of a glass with which to cover it, as the creature was close to a large crab in size. Help from friends was summoned by using her mobile, and somehow or other, the spider was captured in a bag and set free.
 
I myself am wary of dogs I meet, when our walking. I tend not to give them the benefit of the doubt and give them a wide berth. If only dogs could be more like cats, with whom it is possible to have a few nice words and move on. Chances are that the cat will have run away first!
 
Luckily I am not scared of squirrels, or I would be in real trouble! It is impossible to go out from my house, without soon running into them, coming out of the woods and running along the footpaths and fences.
 
If you have trouble having empathy with the fears of others, such as leaving the house itself, imagine that whatever it is that you fear, is waiting for you outside the front door – Would you open it?

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Health

Allergy to cats: what is it exactly?

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Allergy to cats: what is it exactly? thumbnail

Many people claim to be allergic to cats, but the condition is a lot more complicated than that. Let’s look into it. 

 From a hypersensitivity of our immune system to an allergen, in the case of cats likely to be  fel d1 ), produced by the sebaceous glands of the cat and therefore present on skin, hair and dandruff,  in the saliva and the pee. As cats clean themselves by licking their coat, many will be found on the hair. The allergen has the particularity of being extremely persistent. In practical terms, it means it can remain in the environment for a long time and induce allergic symptoms even in the absence of close contact with the animal. 


In general, there is a genetic predisposition to become allergic. In practice, at a certain point in life, predisposed subjects,  the first time they come in contact with the allergen, will tolerate it or develop a reaction in the event of subsequent contact.  We know that those who live with cats from birth are usually more likely to maintain a good tolerance to their allergen.  

Who is allergic to cats is allergic to all cats (regardless of breed or length of hair) or just advertisement some?

Some habits can increase or decrease the spread of allergens in the environment and thus change the tolerance level. For example, keeping the rooms ventilated where a cat lives helps reduce the allergen presence while brushing the animal often contributes to increasing it because a brushed cat will often lick its coat.

It is not even possible to predict the duration or the intensity of the symptoms. It could even turn out to be a temporary or intermittent allergy and therefore occurs in certain periods and disappears in others. It all depends on the situation of the individual subjects and on the possible changes that could occur in life. In fact, there are factors capable of breaking the immunological tolerance towards an allergen.

 

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