Loneliness can be hard to shake. Once you're in that headspace, it can feel like there's nothing you can do to make yourself feel less alone. But there are plenty of ways to help yourself feel more connected that don't require extensive amounts of time or energy. In fact, according to new research, feelings of loneliness can be combatted in just a few minutes. Read on to find out what you can do in 10 minutes to make yourself feel less lonely, and for more on loneliness, This Is the Loneliest State in America.
Talking on the phone for just 10 minutes could make you feel less lonely.
University of Texas researchers observed 240 study participants over the course of a month as some were selected to receive brief phone calls from volunteers, and published their findings in a JAMA Psychiatry study on Feb. 23. The calls, which were led by the participants, lasted about 10 minutes and were made two to five times per week, according to the frequency and time of day participants requested. According to the study, those who received calls reported nearly a 16 percent reduction in their feelings of loneliness. And for more recent health advice, This One Thing Can Help You Drop 20 Percent of Your Body Weight.
Researchers say you should reach out to someone you think will listen if you're feeling lonely.
Lead study author Maninder Kahlon, PhD, an associate professor of population health and executive director of Factor Health at Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin, told CNN that volunteers aged 17 to 23 were trained as callers, focusing on empathetic communication skills, like active listening and asking questions. One of the most important aspects of the study was the way that the participants led the phone conversations.
"Sometimes the agenda is just feeling like they have control," Kahlon explained. If you're feeling lonely, she recommends reaching out to someone in your family or a friend who you believe will be "non-judgmental and truly interested in hearing you out" for at least a 10-minute phone call. And for more useful information delivered straight to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.
Loneliness is likely to impact your mental health.
Trying to reduce your loneliness is extremely important in order to keep your mental health in check. While there are a variety of ways mental health can be impacted, research suggests that loneliness may have a significant effect. A 2017 meta-analysis of nearly 40 studies published in the Public Health journal found that there is "consistent evidence" linking social isolation and loneliness to worse mental health outcomes.
In fact, the University of Texas study not only found signs of reduced loneliness, but also lessened anxiety and depression. According the researchers, the number of adults who were at least mildly anxious dropped by 37 percent and the number who were at least mildly depressed dropped by 25 percent at the end of the study. And for more expert advice, Drinking This 3 Times a Day Could Help You Live Longer, Study Finds.
And mental health issues have risen significantly over the course of the pandemic.
The coronavirus pandemic has taken its toll on many, as people are staying home more often and forgoing social connections with loved ones. According to a report released by the Kaiser Family Foundation on Feb. 10, the average number of adults reporting symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder has risen from about 11 percent in 2019 to more than 41 percent now.
"In a time of overwhelming need for mental health services across America, this approach offers rapid improvements in loneliness, depression, and anxiety. Better still, it’s scalable because it’s delivered by people who are not mental health professionals," Kahlon said in a statement. And for more on the pandemic, This Is When the COVID Pandemic Will Be Completely Over, Experts Say.