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Remember when Chuck Noland (played by Tom Hanks) was stranded on a remote island in the movie Cast Away?

No Internet, phone, TV, or radio. No family, friends or co-workers. His closest companion…a volleyball named “Wilson.” That’s about as lonely as it gets.

You might not be stranded on a remote island, but do you ever feel lonely?

In a recent survey, researchers found that about 22 percent of adults in the U.S. always or often feel:1

  • Lonely
  • A lack of companionship
  • Left out
  • Isolated from others

And that’s only increased during the spread of COVID-19, social distancing, and state mandates that have closed businesses, schools, and other places people meet.

Here’s another thing researchers uncovered in the survey, lonely people are:

  • 40 percent more likely to have a chronic disease (diabetes, obesity, heart disease, etc.)
  • 47 percent more likely to have mental health issues (depression, anxiety, bipolar, etc.)

Even if you’re eating well and active, being lonely can take a toll on your health and happiness.
Consider this advice from longevity researcher Dr. Robert Waldinger:2

  • “The surprising finding is that our relationships and how happy we are in our relationships has a powerful influence on our health.”

Feeling lonely? Building relationships with other people is one of the best ways to change that. But instead of waiting for someone to reach out to you, make the first move.

Here are 10 things you can do to eat loneliness:

  1. Call a family member or friend
  2. Write a letter or send a card to someone
  3. Reach out to someone with a text or email
  4. Plan a video chat meeting
  5. Meet in person (and follow social distancing guidelines)
  6. Volunteer in your community
  7. Go for a walk. Smile, wave, and greet people you see
  8. Connect with people online who have similar interests online
  9. Share a laugh with someone about a movie, book, show, or experience
  10. Be a good listener.

One recent study found that strong bonds with others are good for your heart AND your health.3 Healthy relationships help reduce stress and lower your risk for heart disease.4 They help ward off depression and loneliness. And they help slow age-related memory loss.

Surround yourself with good friends. Nurture relationships. And you’ll never be lonely.

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