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5 Ways to Ease Loneliness

Four women drinking wine together on a couch on a rooftop
Peathegee Inc/Getty Images

"All the lonely people — where do they all come from?" The Beatles were asking an important question with that haunting lyric. Health experts have been asking another one: How can we, as individuals and as a society, strengthen our social ties and feelings of connection?

In his 2023 report, U.S. Surgeon General Vivek Murthy shined a spotlight on the epidemic of loneliness and isolation as well as the health consequences, which include an increased risk of dementia and heart disease. The report offers practical strategies for people to strengthen their relationships and expand their social networks. Here are a few highlights from the list, edited for brevity.

  1. Invest time in nurturing your relationships through consistent, high-quality engagement with others. Each day, reach out to a friend or family member.
  2. Minimize distraction during conversations to improve the quality of time you spend with others. For instance, don’t check your phone during meals with friends or during family time.
  3. Seek opportunities to serve and support others. You can help family members, coworkers, friends and strangers through community service.
  4. Be responsive, supportive and practice gratitude. When you do so, others may reciprocate and you can strengthen social bonds, improve relationship satisfaction and build social capital.
  5. Seek help during times of struggle. If you’re feeling lonely or isolated, reach out to a family member, friend, counselor or health care provider. The 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline, available by calling 988, offers free, confidential support 24/7.

For more strategies to increase social connection, check out this article on Staying Sharp.

This content is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide any expert, professional or specialty advice or recommendations. Readers are urged to consult with their medical providers for all questions.

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