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Why is Loneliness Increasing and
What Can You do if You Feel Lonely?



Loneliness has been on the rise in recent decades, with the two major contributors being longer lifespan, resulting in higher percentages of widowhood, and the jump in single-person households, according to recent U.S. data.


Longer lifespans and an increase in single-person households are causing feelings of loneliness to surge around the United States.

“We are seeing loneliness increase over time,” said John Cacioppo, a social neuroscientist at The University of Chicago, told USA Today. “This is going to be a problem with which we need to deal. Loneliness has repercussions on health and well-being such as sleep dysfunction and high blood pressure.”

Findings Uncover the Negative Effects of Loneliness

  • Similar to laughter, loneliness can be contagious. Feelings of sadness trigger more isolation and a greater sense of loneliness.

  • Quality of friendships is more important than the quantity of friendships.

  • Incoming college freshman are more prone to loneliness during the first quarter of the school term.

  • Loneliness leads to depression.

  • Extroverts need more friends than introverts in order to avoid feeling lonely.

  • Doctors admitted that they provide more complete care to families who are supportive and to individuals who aren’t isolated from others.

  • Individuals living alone are at greater risk of suicide.

Health Repercussions as a Result of Loneliness

Dr. Cacioppo’s loneliness research involved different scientific methods such as employed brain scans, monitoring of autonomic and neuroendocrine processes and assays of immune function as ways to test the influence that social connection has upon our health.

His research revealed how strongly the loss of connection to others impacted individual perceptions, behaviors and physiology. Below are some of the ways loneliness can profoundly affect overall health.

  • Elevates blood pressure

  • Increase in stress levels and cortisol production

  • Decreased immune system

  • Destroys the quality of sleep

  • Increase in depression and anxiety levels

  • Increases risk of developing Alzheimer’s Disease

  • Reduction in the desire to exercise

  • Increases craving for comfort foods high in processed carbohydrates

  • Increase in calorie consumption

  • Increase in alcohol consumption

  • Increase in both legal and illegal drug use

“Loneliness sets in motion a variety of “slowly unfolding pathophysiological processes,” added Cacioppo. “The net result is that the lonely experience higher levels of cumulative wear and tear.”

Human beings are social animals and are built with an innate need for social contact. When these fundamental needs for inclusion, friends and close relationships aren’t met; there is deterioration of the mental and physical body.

Loneliness could stem from a feeling of disconnect, loss of a spouse, move to a new community, job promotion or transfer or change in relationship.

The key to dealing with these new life circumstances is staying connected with others, exploring your hobbies and enjoying time spent with yourself. Rather than turning to unhealthy self-sabotaging behaviors to cope with feelings of loneliness there are some healthy and healing things you can do to bring contentment back into your life.

Six Ways to Get Rid of Loneliness, Meet Others and Boost Your Overall Well-Being

Nourish Your Mind and Spirit With “Staying Healthy in a Stressful World”

This complete training program CD will allow you to:

  • Identify the Three Major Sources of Stress and embark on a practice for transforming your stress into life-enhancing experiences.
  • Choose from a menu of 14 Short Mental Imagery Exercises for addressing such stressors as anger, anxiety, disappointment, guilt, regret, sadness, decision making and more.
  • Learn and practice the Physical Stress Buster series, designed for use right at your desk.
  • Use the Mind-Body Progressive Relaxation to shift gears, replenish your energy, and increase your vitality and clarity of mind.
Staying Healthy in a Stressful World CD Read More & Order Now!
  • Ignite Your Curious Side and Pursue Your Hobbies/Interests

Stimulate your mind by grabbing the local newspaper and finding a cultural event to attend. Consider exploring new hobbies or rekindling old hobbies. Look up continuing education courses that interest you at a local college or attend a car or antique show or other event that piques your interest. Some of the closest friendships come from people sharing similar interests.

  • Make Plans With Others and Stick to Them

If you set up a time to get together with a friend or acquaintance, be sure to follow through with your plans. Oftentimes when we make plans and cancel them the other person takes it as you not being interested and will write you off the next time you call.

  • Sharpen Your Social Skills

Visit your library and find a self-help book on communication skills and improving interpersonal relationships. Most times loneliness is the result of not knowing what to say or how to act in social situations.

  • Look for Volunteer Opportunities

Volunteering brings both personal satisfaction and fulfillment and most importantly a feeling of connection to others. Your local paper is a great source for volunteer options such as hospitals, animal shelters, homeless shelters, recreation facilities and senior living facilities.

  • Reconnect With Old Friends and Former Colleagues

Reach out to those you lost touch with by getting together for lunch or dinner once a month for a good gab session.

12 Tips to Stay Connected to Yourself and Enjoy Your Own Company

For times when you are alone, learning to be at peace with your own company will go a long way toward your emotional well-being.

  • Listen to some of your favorite music or read an inspirational book. Experience the benefits of mind-body progressive relaxation to shift gears, replenish your energy, and increase your vitality and clarity of mind with Staying Healthy in a Stressful World, the highly praised CD by Dr. Peter Reznik, one of the most respected mind/body integrative therapists of our time. The program will actually help you to embark on a practice to address and deal with stressors such as anger, disappointment, sadness and worry.

  • Go for a walk in the park or forest preserve taking in the sights and the beauty of nature

  • Attend a local festival, fair or community event

  • Walk your dog or play with your pet

  • Nurture your plants with some tender loving care

  • Visit a museum, zoo or art gallery

  • Look up at the constellations in the night sky or make a trip to the planetarium

  • Find out your genealogy and trace your family tree

  • Call in to a radio show to express your thoughts or views or join an online chat on a topic you feel strongly about

  • Write a letter to the editor to your local newspaper

  • Relax and meditate in a soothing drawn bubble bath

  • Look through some cookbooks for new recipe ideas and try them out

Recommended Reading

The Serious Health Risks of Loneliness & The Healing Power of Friendship

How to Combat the Growing Problem of Loneliness and Social Isolation in Our Lives

The Healing Power of Touch --And Seven Ways to Get More of It


USA Today August 6, 2009

Psychology Today July 1, 2003

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