Expert shares the 1 thing to do to combat parental burnout and loneliness

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Yes, it’s possible to feel isolated when you’re never alone. A new study from The Ohio State University found that roughly 62% of Moms and Dads experience loneliness due to the demands of modern parenting.

It doesn’t have to be that way, according to family therapist Dr. Thomas Kersting. During an April 25 appearance on TODAY, Kersting said to think about the terms “lonely” and “aloneness.”

“One is a void, and one is empowering,” Kersting told co-anchors Savannah Guthrie and Hoda Kotb. “So what I try to tell people to do is to turn turn loneliness into aloneness.”

“Delve within yourself,” he continued. “Take 10 or 15 minutes a day and inventory everything you that you are grateful for, right down to the shoes on your feet.”

Kersting called the daily ritual “very empowering.”

“Essentially, you’re developing probably what is the most important relationship of all, which is the one with self,” Kersting explained. “This is necessary in order to have a robust relationship with our children and spouses.”

While chatting with Hoda and Savannah, Kersting also shared the advice he gives to parents of teenagers.

“We have to get our kids out of the bedroom and into the family room because that relationship — that communication — is going to eviscerate loneliness,” Kersting said. “You’re gonna feel a connection with your children.”

“And I think community with other parents,” Savannah added. “Like, ‘This sucks. I’m tired.’ I love my kids — but it’s exhausting!”

In 2023, the U.S. Surgeon General declared loneliness a public health crisis, one which can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke and dementia. Researchers also found that a lack of social connection can increase the risk of premature death by 60%.

Reseacher Kate Gawlik told NBC correspondent Morgan Radford that parents experiencing feelings of burnout and loneliness should seek treatment for their symptoms.

"Parents that identify as having burnout, often also identify as being very lonely. And so these two are very interrelated," Gawlik said. "Ultimately, if parents want to help one, they have to help the other."

Gawlik also advised parents to take some "me time."

"It is not selfish to need things for yourself that are outside of your kids," she said. "If parents aren't healthy, kids aren't healthy, and that is the bottom line."

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