In an increasingly connected world, it is easier than ever to be alone and lonely. With so much interaction available through a screen, in-person relationships can un-intentionally take a back burner. In fact, the change can be so subtle we may not even know it is happening.

Currently, three in five adults in the US report feeling lonely. Even in the workplace where co-workers surround people, 62% of workers experience feelings of loneliness. (1) Moreover, loneliness is widely considered an “epidemic” and a serious health concern. (2)

Four Ways to Feel Less Lonely and More Connected

How Loneliness Is Bad for Wellness

Chronic or ongoing loneliness is associated with poor overall health. It can lead to depression, decreased feelings of well-being, mental illness, heart problems, and cognitive decline. (3) Also, being lonely can be as bad for health as smoking or obesity.

In addition to the health consequences, being lonely negatively affects every area of wellness. Lack of social connection, isolation in the workplace, and poor emotional well-being are all related to loneliness.

What Can Lead To Being Lonely?

Being lonely is different from being alone. Having some time to ourselves can be a good and healthy part of life. Above all, it allows us to focus, connect with our inner selves, and unwind. (4) However, what makes being alone different from being lonely is choice.

Loneliness happens when someone is alone but longing for a social connection. Humans require close relationships with other people, and when these are lacking, loneliness and all the attending consequences follow.

This can develop at any age or stage of life. Changes like moving to a new area, living alone for the first time, starting a new job, or losing a loved one can all lead to feeling isolated and disconnected.

Connect with friends - the cure for loneliness

The Key Is Connection

Meaningful relationships with others are essential to combat loneliness. While creating these connections is difficult for some of us, there are many ways to build a social life that prevents loneliness. Thus, it’s all about finding the right fit.

1. Volunteer

This is a great way to meet other people with similar values, and often volunteer groups are an already closely-knit community that eagerly welcomes new members.

How to combat being lonely: Volunteer

2. Pick up a New Hobby

Take a class or connect with a hobby group to form relationships with people who share your interest.

Avoid loneliness - pick up a new hobby!

3. Connect with Loved Ones

Be intentional about connecting with loved ones. Have a regular phone or video chat with close friends and family that don’t live nearby. In addition, be the one to send a text and plan a get-together. It’s easy to let these relationships sit on hold, but they are built-in loneliness busters, so be proactive about investing time and effort.

Your cure to being lonely - connect with family

4. Adopt a Pet

Having a pet is good for your health and can combat loneliness. (5) If having a pet of your own isn’t a good option, consider volunteering with animals or fostering.

Feeling lonely? Adopt a pet

Don’t Stay Lonely

People need other people. We cannot thrive on our own. Therefore, when you reach out and connect, you prevent your own loneliness and help others feel less lonely as well.

Of course, a robust and supportive community is an essential piece of a healthy, fulfilling life. So, reach out to those around you and build the kinds of relationships that help everyone flourish.