Social connection is more than what keeps people bound to one another. Your social connections make you who you are.
So, then, what does it mean for our emotional health that 20% of adults struggle with loneliness? This number is higher than the amount of people who have diabetes and the amount of people who smoke.
Just like smoking or diabetes, feeling lonely can impact on your health. Statistically, lonely people die sooner than those with strong social connections. The impact of loneliness on life expectancy is just as strong as smoking and obesity. Loneliness is also linked to cognitive decline.
Dr. Vivek H. Murthy, the 19th Surgeon General of the United States, says there’s no single reason people struggle with loneliness. He says that the mobile nature of modern culture impacts the nature of relationships. People no longer live and work in the same communities, causing rifts in social structure. Technology and the way it’s used can also harm social connection. While social media can have social benefits, relationships built online can be lower quality than in-person relationships..
If you’re lonely, it doesn’t mean you’re not likable or lovable. There are simply flaws in social structures that it can take effort to overcome. People have evolved to depend on one another. People need one another. If you’re lonely, just know that you matter and people want to connect with you. It can be hard to reach out for social connection, but if you just try you might be pleasantly surprised.