Here’s “Just the Facts,” a series where we scour Greatist’s archives for the most vital need-to-know nuggets on any given subject. It’s the no-noise info you gotta have, the way you gotta have it.
We’ve all experienced a sense of loneliness at some point, whether due to feeling left out of a friendship group at school, feeling slighted at work, or watching all your friends get married before you. You can even be in a room filled with your nearest and dearest and still feel a sense of disconnection.
No matter how long feelings of loneliness linger, they can quickly take a toll on your mental and physical health. The good news? It doesn’t have to be that way.
They say one is the loneliest number, so buddy up with these 26 must-know nuggets on the topic.
Think loneliness is “just a feeling”? These stats might change your mind.
1. 61 percent of Americans report feeling lonely
So if you’re plagued by a sense of isolation, you’re far from the only one.
2. Limit your scrolling to 30 minutes
This is an ideal amount of time to use social media each day in order to curb feelings of loneliness.
3. Loneliness + work = a triggering prescription
Lonely folks take twice as many sick days as their less-lonely colleagues.
4. It hurts your heart (quite literally)
Studies show you’re 29 percent more likely to develop heart disease if you experience loneliness.
5. …And your brain
Those who feel lonely may face a 32 percent higher risk of stroke.
6. …And your mind
It may also ramp up your rate of cognitive decline by 20 percent.
While the holidays are a time of celebration, they can also amplify feelings of isolation for many. Don’t panic, though — there are ways to get through it.
7. Going solo can be great
It totally sucks if you can’t spend holidays with loved ones. But solo activities like journaling and a pampering session can be reassuring hugs in their own right.
8. You have the power to isolate your FOMO
Scrolling through Instagram and obsessing over people’s curated lifestyles tends not to be a mood lifter. Giving yourself time limits on social can help.
9. One holiday size doesn’t have to fit all
Alone for Thanksgiving? Approach the day in a different light and you’ll still find reasons to be joyous — these 10 ideas will set you on the right track.
10. Movement is medicine
Rather than wallowing in solitude at home, take the holiday break as a chance to get out and see the world. As one Greatist writer found, you’ll likely learn more than just a new language.
11. Embracing JOMO has its perks
Instead of fighting feelings of loneliness, embrace them! As this article reveals, having one-on-one time with yourself can actually improve your well-being.
12. Giving back gives you a sense of connection
There are plenty of ways to shake off the blues in the company of others, including volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen.
13. Virtual valentines feel love too
Thanks to Zoom and other vid technology, being physically apart doesn’t have to mean plans fall by the wayside. Check out these fun ways to keep the party alive virtually.
14. Even small connections can go a long way
Experts reveal that physically withdrawing can cause our brains to retreat too. So if you can’t be with others, do what you can to stay in touch — even if it’s simply via text message.
Between physical distancing and stay-at-home orders, we’re all experiencing feelings of isolation. But there are ways to harness control.
15. Rhythm helps when things are offbeat
While our regular lives have been flipped-turned upside down (à la “The Fresh Prince”), keeping a routine in place can help keep those feelings of loneliness at bay.
16. Kindness (even in isolation) is a two-way street
Engaging in acts of kindness can not only help you fight your own feelings of sadness and disconnection but also help ease those emotions in others. Not sure how to start? We’ve got you covered.
17. There are more ways to connect than just person-to-person
From getting out in the fresh air to playing with a pet, there are plenty of options to do so.
18. Working on your space improves your workspace
Bet you didn’t know how hard it would be to not be surrounded by colleagues (even the annoying ones). Fortunately, there’s plenty you can do to make your home workspace a happier place — no cardboard-cutout deskmates required.
19. Greens help fight the blues
Ever considered becoming a plant parent? Plants might not be able to hold a conversation about last night’s Netflix sesh, but they sure can listen. Here’s how else plants can be a key ally in the fight against loneliness.
Those who are in long-distance relationships understand that the stretches between meetups can cause uber pangs of loneliness. But there are ways to get yourself sorted in the interim.
20. Weight can make the wait more bearable
Although human touch is essential to our mental well-being, you can re-create a sense of snuggles with a weighted blanket (or other approaches) while you wait to be reunited with your loved one.
21. Three-way convos improve one-on-one convos
Therapy isn’t just for couples on the brink of collapse. In fact, talking with a professional can help deepen your emotional connection with your partner and enhance your communication skills — perfect when the phone is your relationship’s lifeline.
22. Flammable phones are good
From dirty texts to dual masturbation phone sessions, there’s a variety of ways to keep things hot until you and your partner can be together in person.
23. One is not an island
It’s never good to focus all your energies on one person — and if you’re without your partner for long periods, it’s even more vital to ensure you nurture relationships with family and friends.
24. Absence really does make the heart grow fonder
Feeling lonely is definitely not something to revel in, but short bouts could actually bring positive outcomes in the long term. Research shows spending time by yourself can help strengthen your romantic relationship.
25. Dating yourself is self-affirming
Missing date nights? Dating yourself allows you to really savor moments, whether you take a book to your favorite outdoor spot, order a sumptuous dinner from one of your favorite restaurants, or go on that long-planned road trip alone.
26. It’s not all about you
Don’t forget to check in with your partner: They might be feeling the separation, too, and experiencing symptoms of depression as a result. Taking a few easy steps together could be just you both need to work through this.
We hate to leave you there, but with these pieces of advice to stash away in your resilience backpack, we know you’ll be OK. Plus, science suggests that a bit of alone time is actually necessary for your mental well-being. It’s just up to you to explore and figure out where your personal balance lies.
Chantelle Pattemore is a writer and editor based in London, UK. She focuses on lifestyle, health, beauty, food, and fitness.