Against Loneliness



What to do

What to do

… when you got that feeling
How to help others

How to help others

How to help someone who appears to be lonely

Start by promising yourself to just do at least 1 tiny thing about it every day, make it so small that there is no resistance left (micro-habit). Here are a few ideas:

  • Say “hello” to someone on the street
  • Pay a sincere compliment to someone (“Thanks for the beautiful smile.”)
  • Call someone you haven’t spoken with in a long time
  • Help someone who could use some help
  • If getting out of the house feels hard, watch a funny movie
  • Join a group or community online or offline
  • Volunteer for a local cause
  • Consider getting a cat or a dog

Think of people you know who live alone (Grandma or a Neighbor), or look for signs in people around you that communicate loneliness (tone of voice, body language). Here are a few ideas:

  • Stop by to say hi
  • Call them to check in
  • Pay them a sincere compliment (even about something small)
  • Invite them over (breakfast, lunch, dinner, movie night)
  • Introduce them to someone or a group they might like
  • Make a small gesture (bring a huge chocolate chip cookie)
  • Accompany them to a doctor’s visit
Feeling disconnected? You are NOT alone
  • The percentage of Americans who responded that they regularly or frequently felt lonely was between 11% and 20% in the 1970s and 1980s. In 2010 a nationally representative study  found it was closer to 40% to 45%. (Source: Fortune Magazine)
  • The 18 to 34-year-olds surveyed were more likely to feel lonely often, to worry about feeling alone and to feel depressed because of loneliness than the over-55s. (Source: The Guardian)
  • The number of people who indicated that they had a neighbor with whom they could confide has dropped more than half since 1985 — from around 19 percent to about eight percent. (Source
  • Five percent of American households had televisions in 1950 compared with 95 percent in 1970. Now, many homes have a TV in every room. Putnam provides further reasons for the fragmentation of the family circle and disintegration of family life since the 1960s: Families have 60 percent fewer family picnics and 40 percent fewer family dinners.
  • The Washington Post estimated that for every 10-minute increase in commuting time, there is a 10-percent decrease in time spent establishing and maintaining social ties. As both the work week and commutes have extended, those people who would ordinarily take the lead in developing and maintaining social structures  are no longer available to mobilize efforts that build communities.
  • With the growth of two-career and single-parent families, people have lost connection with neighbors and have little time or energy for groups or volunteerism. With the growth in “bedroom communities,” there aren’t enough people available for field trips and community service projects that depend upon volunteerism.
  • “People struggle to connect “emotionally and interpersonally” when so much of our communication happens in digital form” (Dr. Lisa Strohman, founder and director of the Technology Wellness Center in Scottsdale, Ariz.)
  • You may have 1,000 Facebook friends, but how many of them could you confide in about the worries that keep you up at night? Just because an old college friend likes a photo of your cat on Instagram doesn’t mean he or she is down to listen to you complain about work or give you advice on how to care for your aging parents. (Source: Chicago Tribune)