The Loneliness Epidemic

Loneliness is implicated in shortened lifespans, worsened physical and mental health, addiction, economic disruption and homelessness, among others.  Its spread constitutes a true public health crisis in the USA, and intervention is urgently called for.  However, at present, only individual efforts are offered as a solution.  Reach out.  Make sure your elderly relatives are getting a phone call regularly.  Join a club, church, or book group at your local public library.  Take control of your life.

Taking these steps up a level means working to make sure the resources available in the community are accessible and inclusive of all who may need them.  Maybe the library could expand its book group offerings to reach out to immigrants or the elderly, or others who feel excluded.  Maybe the local senior center could partner with local groceries or farmers to get wasted food to people in need.  Communities can be made stronger and more inclusive through initiatives like this that bring people in, thus reducing loneliness.

Loneliness is not the same as being alone.  For some social isolation kicks in when personal contacts are few, but for others, only a few contacts may be enough.  Social isolation is often based in other problems or issues, such as fear of not fitting in, or fear of abandonment.  If you are feeling lonely, it may be wise to investigate what emotions are hidden within or behind the loneliness.  Finding and facing the source of fears can reduce their power to affect your actions, allowing you to take charge and try new approaches or activities.

Even if you are feeling lonely, remember, you are not alone.  Other people around you are struggling with similar feelings, and maybe it only takes one person to reach out to make new connections for a whole community.  If fear is holding you back from taking action for yourself, maybe taking action for others is more motivating; the end result will be the same: more connection and less loneliness.

– Nancy