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The Cost of Lonliness

I read something earlier this week that left me stunned.


The US Surgeon General recently announced a growing mental health crisis in our country – loneliness, isolation, and lack of connection. Even before COVID, approximately half of US adults reported experiencing measurable levels of loneliness.


Just last year, it was reported that the health risks of prolonged social isolation and loneliness are equivalent to smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It has even been estimated that loneliness and isolation can shorten a person’s life span by as many as 15 years.

While the two terms are often used interchangeably, they are different.

  • Social isolation is the lack of social contacts and having few people to interact with regularly.

  • Loneliness is the feeling of being alone, regardless of the amount of social contact.

An individual can live alone and not feel lonely or socially isolated, just as someone can feel lonely while being with other people.


If you or anyone in your family is experiencing feelings of loneliness and/or isolation, please reach out to someone. If you’re not sure who, start with your primary care physician. There is no shame in admitting that you need help. We all have fought similar battles.


And for those reading this who don’t deal with these challenges, I want to ask something of you. Can you foster a spirit of gratitude? Can you share, with the people in your life, ways that you are grateful for them? It doesn’t even have to be for something out of the ordinary, just take notice.


The important part is connection. I am so grateful for each of you.


And lastly, to all the moms out there – Happy Mother’s Day. Your gifts are immeasurable. Thank you.

-John


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