By Dr. Glenn Mollette
Global health service company Cigna (NYSE: CI) released results from a national survey earlier this month exploring the impact of loneliness in the United States. The survey, conducted in partnership with market research firm, Ipsos, revealed that most American adults are considered lonely. Nearly half of Americans report sometimes or always feeling alone (46 percent) or left out (47 percent).
From the Cigna report we learn the following:
One in four Americans (27 percent) rarely or never feel as though there are people who really understand them.
Two in five Americans sometimes or always feel that their relationships are not meaningful (43 percent) and that they are isolated from others (43 percent).
One in five people report they rarely or never feel close to people (20 percent) or feel like there are people they can talk to (18 percent).
Americans who live with others are less likely to be lonely (average loneliness score of 43.5) compared to those who live alone (46.4). However, this does not apply to single parents/guardians (average loneliness score of 48.2) – even though they live with children, they are more likely to be lonely.
Only around half of Americans (53 percent) have meaningful in-person social interactions, such as having an extended conversation with a friend or spending quality time with family, on a daily basis.
Generation Z (adults ages 18-22) is the loneliest generation and claims to be in worse health than older generations.
Social media use alone is not a predictor of loneliness; respondents defined as very heavy users of social media have a loneliness score (43.5) that is not markedly different from the score of those who never use social media (41.7).
Psychcentral.com has some good suggestions on combating loneliness. Loneliness is a feeling and not a fact. Reach out to others. Stop the self-deflating thoughts. Focus on others and less attention on yourself. What you give may come back to you. Find others who have common interests. Always show up when meeting with others. Don’t stand people up. Be interested in other people. Listen to what they are saying and doing. Take the focus off of you. Be kind. Some people are rude but most people will respond to kindness. Being mean, rude and a jerk will earn you a reputation you don’t want. Find a group with whom to connect such as church groups, exercise groups, music groups, Alcoholics Anonymous, sewing or baking groups or folks who simply gather for coffee.
Talking, listening, kindness, showing interest in others, participating and helping others will help you in overcoming loneliness.
Dr. Glenn Mollette is the author of 12 books. His syndicated column is read in all 50 states.