Find a Purpose and Get Rid of Loneliness in One Simple Step

Find a Purpose and Get Rid of Loneliness in One Simple Step

It's no secret that our world is becoming increasingly individualized and productive. We're all working hard to achieve our goals and advance in our careers. But at what cost?

We're sacrificing genuine, strong relationships in exchange for productivity. As a result, loneliness is on the rise. We need to find a balance between work and play, or we'll end up losing ourselves entirely.

Loneliness and depression are on the rise, and people feel less motivated to live. Dreams and ambitions seem pointless, and life lacks purpose. But why?

Take a look at people and how they live their daily lives. Most of us go through the motions day in and day out, without really stopping to think about what we're doing or why we're doing it. We wake up, go to work or school, come home, eat dinner, watch TV or surf the internet, then go to bed. Rinse and repeat.

Is it any wonder that loneliness and depression are on the rise? We're not really living; we're just existing. And when you exist without meaning or purpose, it's easy to slip into a state of loneliness and despair.

It's no surprise that millennials and Gen Z are the most impacted demographics when it comes to this mental health crisis. Just think about the effect of climate change. We grew up in the peak of the hyper-individualized society, where going out to the park and playing basketball, riding a bike for hours until the sun rested, hiking and picnicking never took place. More accurately, we grew up playing video games, eating junk food, and staying indoors most of the time without taking a look at nature or marveling at its greatness. Their parents and grandparents did things like go on hikes and admire views from atop mountains or take dives in lakes to feel a sense of connection with something larger than themselves – but millennials and Gen Z never had that opportunity. 

It's been a few years for everyone, but especially for younger people. The Covid pandemic has hit us hard, taking away our social lives and forcing us to stay indoors. It's been difficult to adjust, but we're doing the best we can.

The silver lining in all of this is that we're getting to experience life in a different way than our parents did. We're learning how to be independent and self-sufficient, skills that will serve us well in the future. And while we may have missed out on some of the traditional teenage experiences, like going out with friends or playing sports, we're still making the most of our situation and finding ways to connect with others online and through other creative outlets.

As human beings need to connect with others. Isolation and loneliness can be just as detrimental to our health as smoking every day. We are social creatures by nature and crave connection. We need affection and meaning in our lives - this is nothing to be ashamed of, despite what corporations want us to think ("be self-sufficient," "you need no one," "you are your job," etc.). These are the modern world mantras, and they're funny because they contradict the very nature of who we are. We're not meant to be lone wolves or soulless machines isolated from each other. We're meant to be part of a tribe, co-depending on each other and with the world around us.

But how can you find meaning and connection in a world so focused on division and individualization? Focused on seeing humans as mere cogs in the great machinery that makes up our society? 

The answer is quite simple: it lies on spending time in nature, among trees, among Mother Nature. Before you judge me as a hippie let me ask you this: 

Why do you think most clinical psychologists’ offices, yoga studios, meditation centers and spa rooms have nature-based decoration? Or nature sounds playing to please your senses? Because nature helps to improve your mental health, it helps to reduce loneliness and strengthens your connection with the world because, as corny as it might sound, we are all connected. Homo sapiens spent most of their history (some still do) as hunter-gatherers co-existing with nature, taking care of it and connecting with it. Then the next step in human revolution was the agricultural revolution where we learned to take care of plants; we became responsible for their survival and reproduction. This gave us purpose; we nurtured them and co-depend on each other.

Can you imagine how beautiful it must have been? They had a clear purpose and were not alone, they hadn’t the level of loneliness we experience (as far as we know) because they were not, they were not alone, they were with their gardens and taking care of it. 

Spending most of your time between concrete walls and steel makes you lonely, because what surrounds you it’s not alive, while spending time surrounded by trees and gardens will give you a spark of joy and peace, because you become part of the environment.

A study conducted by the University of Essex found out that gardening therapy during the pandemic helped reduce depression and loneliness among participants, same participants who spent most of their time locked between concrete and steel.

The study followed people with mental health issues as they worked on therapeutic community gardens run by the charity Trust Links from 2019 to 2022. As they sowed, planted and tended to vegetables and flowers their self-reported life satisfaction and mental well-being increased by 9%.

You can find evidence of this in your own body and its relationship with the outside world. The human body interacts with millions of bacteria every single day, when you go outside you interact with bacteria, when you touch a tree, when you grab a stone, when you step on the road, when you inhale air into your lungs and when your skin is exposed to bacteria and microorganisms floating in the air. The human body lives in an eternal symbiosis with those microscopic creatures who help your body regulate and adapt itself to the environment, it’s the homeostasis.

Therefore, what happens when you are locked down in your house with no contact with the outside world is you are preventing your body from interacting with the bacteria and microorganisms that help your body adapt to the environment, so the fundamental relationship in your life is compromised and your body weakens. Lockdowns and isolating from the outside world just stops your body from adapting, and once you go outside your body is not adapted to the microorganisms so you get sick and develop mental health issues.

Therapeutic gardening is a genuine and marvelous way to connect with other people and with Mother Nature, you will strengthen your body, adapt to the environment and cultivate your relationship with nature and thus, decrease any degree of depression and loneliness inside of you.

Plant a seed and nurture its growth. Bring the outdoors, indoors. Your mind will thank you. 

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