Sunday, January 24, 2021
Despite the existence of the COVID vaccine, it will be some time before life returns to the 2021 version of "normal." Loneliness is still a factor for many. I blogged a little over a week ago about my sister's cat and mentioned how pets can help combat loneliness. The New York Times ran a story about loneliness (not about my sister's cat) a couple of weeks ago. Combating an Epidemic of Loneliness opens with some interesting statistics. "Humans can survive three minutes without air, three days without water, three weeks without food and — according to survival lore — three months without companionship. Whether true or not, what’s clear is that people need people. And pandemics, many of us are learning, can be lonely times." The article explains what loneliness means-it's more than being by oneself. "A useful way to think about loneliness, she said, is as the difference between how much social connection people want and how much they are getting" one expert noted in the article. The article even mentions the brain science and studies undertaken on the topic. The article offers several suggestions to combat loneliness:
(1) Friend-but not just anyone you call "friend." "
When seeking out connections, focus on your most unconditionally supportive friends and family. Some research shows that people feel more stressed and disconnected when their friendship networks include people who have betrayed them, weren’t there for them during tough times, frequently argue with them or otherwise cause negative feelings. A call with a close friend, in other words, will probably help more than a college reunion over Zoom.
(2) Be helpful to others. Remember random acts of kindness? Those can be done even if you are staying home. (3) Start a hobby. (4)Reach out to others-lots of folks are lonely, and the article suggests younger people may need this connection.
And I'll add this to the list. If you have a pet, give it a hug.