Search the word “lonely” on TikTok, and you’ll find a seemingly endless video feed of people speaking into the camera, talking about their overwhelming sense of loneliness.
Loneliness is real, it’s painful, and it’s on the rise.
Loneliness is disconnection from other people, and more and more people are at a loss as to how to find those connections and, once found, maintain them. At its core, it’s a disconnection from your true self.
Here are five important things to know about loneliness.
We need to change our understanding of who is impacted by loneliness because it can be anyone. In fact, statistically, it’s half of everyone in the U.S.—single, married, children, seniors, and every age in between. The prevalence of this cannot be overstated.
2. Solitude and loneliness may look similar, but they are not.
Solitude, while similar, does not have the same ill effects as loneliness. Seeking out moments of quiet reflection positively affects metrics like happiness and blood pressure. Loneliness, on the other hand, is a sense of isolation that often persists even when other people are present.
3. Loneliness is more than just a bad feeling.
Chronic loneliness can have a profound impact on mental and physical health. Lacking social connection has the same health consequences as smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day or drinking more than six alcoholic beverages a day, according to research by Holt-Lunstad at Brigham Young University. It also exacerbates existing mental health conditions.
In contrast, blue zones are places around the world where residents have unusual longevity coupled with a much higher-than-average sense of well-being. Contributing factors to these positive outcomes are lifetime friendships and a sense of community.
Find your people.
4. Less screen time, more face time.
Half of all Americans are lonely. Americans also spend an average of seven hours and four minutes a day looking at screens.
Online interactions are no substitute for the genuine connection we crave. While it is great to stay in touch with old friends over social media, or even video chat with family, we need to be mindful of maintaining our in-person face time. Connecting with a real-life experience can give us lasting fulfillment in a way that a smartphone simply can’t.
5. Find your third place.
Your third place is somewhere you can connect with others, share your thoughts and dreams, and have fun. Your first place is home, your second place is work, and with so many working from home now, many don’t even have a second place, never mind a third.
Your third place is where genuine connections flourish, a haven for sharing your ideas and aspirations and having fun. Often, it’s in a public setting where people can gather informally and frequently. Examples mentioned in the book The Great Good Place include French cafés and pubs, as well as churches and religious communities.
The solution to loneliness may look simple. After all, we just need to spend more time with other people, right?
Yet, it will require all of us to make a conscious, consistent effort to check in with the people we love, seek out new connections, and balance the amount of time we spend online with the time we spend with others.
Poosh Favorites: Journals
Up next, be the first to know our weekly content and sign up for our Poosh newsletter.