Loneliness is killing us.

Plus: Why do women struggle more with weight loss?


Loneliness Is a Big Deal

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As the new year rolls in, many of us who want to improve our health turn our attention to hitting the gym and eating healthier. But there’s another crucial aspect of our health that we shouldn’t overlook, yet many people do. The impact loneliness has on our health can be substantial, and we should all be aware of it as we age. 

Surprisingly, research suggests (READ STUDY) that as we age, loneliness could pose as significant a threat to our health as obesity. This comparison is quite startling, considering the well-known risks associated with obesity.

A comprehensive analysis revealed that individuals with stronger social connections and support networks have a significantly reduced mortality risk. This reduction is seen independently of other factors like smoking, high blood pressure, or gender. 

It’s an eye-opening discovery that underscores the power of positive, connected relationships in keeping us healthier and happier throughout our lives. 

In what is considered the longest-running study on happiness, spanning over 80 years, scientists have found that social connections are more critical to our well-being than wealth or achievements. It turns out money indeed can't buy happiness, and meaningful relationships are irreplaceable. 

Another study offers a more sobering perspective (READ STUDY), revealing that loneliness can increase the odds of death by 26% in any given year. And unfortunately, the impact of feeling alone is more widespread than you might think. Research conducted before the pandemic showed that three out of four Americans experienced feelings of loneliness. On top of that, there has been a noticeable rise in loneliness globally.

Building and improving friendships as an adult takes time and effort. Some studies suggest that it can take upwards of 40 hours to form a meaningful connection. Who has time for that? 

This can be challenging in adult life, where time often feels scarce. However, there are three key practices that can make a significant difference in forging these lasting connections and helping to improve your health:

Curiosity: Taking an interest in others can open up opportunities for friendships in unexpected places. If you don’t put yourself out there, ask questions, and genuinely seek to meet and learn more about other people, how will you make any new friends? 

Intention: Building connections doesn’t happen by chance. It requires vulnerability and openness from your side. Like hitting the gym and improving your nutrition, making and maintaining new friendships takes intention and work. If you don’t answer that text message or that email or accept that invitation enough times, those relationships will inevitably fizzle out. 

Habit: Establishing regular activities and rituals can lay the foundation for lasting friendships. Do you have a day of the week reserved for activities with families and friends? Do you commit to taking a trip or two every year? Do you call friends to check in on them? These things can go a long way and should be turned into habits like anything else. 

Fortunately, even for introverted people, there are ways to forge these vital connections. Virtual interactions, group activities, or communities centered around shared interests can all be avenues for making meaningful connections. It’s essential to take the time to find your inner circle, your community, where you feel a sense of belonging. It turns out that nurturing these social connections is one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.

The key takeaway? While physical health is often at the forefront of our New Year resolutions, the importance of social health cannot be overstated. In a world where loneliness is on the rise, making an effort to strengthen our social bonds could be just as crucial as maintaining a healthy diet or regular exercise. 

Remember, the relationships you build and maintain are not just good for your emotional well-being; they’re essential for your physical health, too!


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