From scrolling through Instagram the moment you wake up to the constant stream of work emails and texts from friends you field throughout the day, it might feel counterintuitive to ever feel, well, lonely. You’re interacting with humans nonstop, right?
Actually, according to a national survey launched by global health service company Cigna earlier this year, not so much. “Technology has made it easier for people to not physically talk to other people,” says Doug Nemecek, MD, chief medical officer for behavioral health at Cigna. But that’s the catch: “Our survey showed it’s important that your interactions are in-person and meaningful.”
And the findings weren’t small. In total, more than 20,000 U.S. adults responded and nearly half reported some feelings of loneliness. “Forty six percent of Americans adults reported always feeling alone, and two in five Americans said they sometimes or always feel their relationships are not meaningful and that they are isolated from others,” says Dr. Nemecek. So, Cigna decided to do something about it.
That something is a new streamlined, 10-question survey based on the UCLA Loneliness Scale (regarded as the standard in the mental-health space), which helps you assess the loneliness you might be feeling (is it totally normal or more serious?) and suggests steps to help you curb it.
“We found younger generations (Generation Z and Millennials) are lonelier.”
Loneliness affects people of all ages, but some groups at higher rates, according to the survey. “We found younger generations (Generation Z and Millennials) are lonelier,” Dr. Nemecek says.
At the same time, the findings unveil habits of people who are reportedly less emotionally isolated. The most impactful thing you can do? Increase the regular face-to-face interactions you have on a daily basis (hello, water cooler chat and coffee date). Less lonely people also get a boost from sleeping enough, exercising regularly, and spending time with loved ones—which suggests there’s a major wellness link, too.
“As you’re working to combat loneliness, don’t feel you have to do it alone,” he says. “Your health plan may offer the kinds of programs that Cigna provides, including a live health support line or health coaches who can help people take positive steps.”
Want to get real about your loneliness? Take the eye-opening questionnaire below, and find out how to help turn things around.
In partnership with Cigna
Top photo: Stocksy/ Boris Jovanovic
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