Reaching Out Can Make You Feel Better

Reaching Out Can Make You Feel Better

Reaching Out Can Make You Feel Better

Loneliness hurts. People often feel isolated or wish they had more friends. Those feelings happen to people of all ages, even if they are busy and around people often.

Studies show leaving site icon relationships are key for overall wellbeing. People thrive in safe social surroundings. Loneliness can take a toll on physical and mental health. It can raise the risk for depression and other mental health issues. It’s also been linked to increased inflammation and higher blood pressure — which an lead to a greater risk for diabetes and heart disease.

All Ages

Young adults may feel alone because of the time they spend on social media. They may think others have more friends or happier lives because of what they see. A study published in JAMA Psychiatry leaving site icon shows social media can boost their risk for loneliness, depression and suicide.

Loneliness is harmful for the health of older adults, leaving site icon too. More than one-third of adults age 45 and older are lonely. Many live alone. They may not have the routine social interaction that comes with school or a job. Without these touchstones, the risks for sleeplessness, alcoholism and dementia go up significantly.

Despite its negative side, social media can also help people form bonds. Connecting online through platforms such as Facebook and Instagram let people connect online and share photos with friends and family. Users may even build a new group of friends.

For some, other forms of technology can help. Voice-activated devices and smart speakers allow banter between people and machine, which can makes seniors feel more connected. It also offers an easy way to listen to favorite music, learn about daily events and more, says AARPleaving site icon 

Exercising, eating healthy foods and getting enough sleep can help fight off the bad effects of loneliness. They help nurture mental and physical wellbeing – and even longer lives, reports the National Poll on Healthy Agingleaving site icon 

Other Steps That Help

Luckily, there are things nearly everyone can do to help fight that lonely feeling. Try these tips:

  • Spend some time outdoors. Sunlight and fresh air are mood boosters. Take a walk, soak up some rays.
  • Volunteer or join groups of people with similar interests. Share your hobbies.
  • Strive for balance. If you’re spending too much time at work, try to boost your other activities.
  • Take care of your own needs. Don’t put yourself last.
  • Reach out to family or friends. If you can’t meet in person, give them a call or send an email or text.
  • Think about adopting a pet. They can be a big mood booster.
  • Meditate. It may teach you new ways to quiet your mind – and fears.
Sources: Loneliness and Social Isolation Linked to Serious Health Conditions, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, leaving site icon 2022; Associations Between Time Spent Using Social Media and Internalizing and Externalizing Problems Among U.S. Youth, leaving site icon JAMA Psychiatry, 2019; Social Isolation, Loneliness in Older People Pose Health Risks, leaving site icon National Institute on Aging, 2019; Loneliness and Health: National Poll on Healthy Aging, leaving site icon Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation, University of Michigan, 2022.

Originally published 3/20/2019; Revised 2022