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May 5, 2023
Loneliness & Depression: 5 Tips to Help Connect with Others
Written by: Espyr
The workplace and our relationship with it has changed a lot in the past decade, and even more rapidly in recent years. The increase in remote and hybrid work, changes ushered in by the pandemic, and a general increase in societal awareness of mental health have fundamentally changed our understanding of workplace well-being. Businesses are investing more in mental health support as the issue has become a vital part of employee benefits.
Loneliness and Health
Just last week, US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy announced that his office would be addressing the “epidemic of loneliness and isolation” and working on a plan to advance a “National Strategy to Advance Social Connection.” Loneliness is a major part of the current workplace mental health crisis and has a direct link to major mental and physical health problems. Prolonged loneliness can cause your body to create more cortisol, also known as the stress hormone, which can increase your risk for health concerns such as diabetes, sleep apnea, cancer, and more. Beyond this, numerous studies point to strong connections between social isolation and serious health conditions. Regarding mental health, chronic loneliness has been linked to depression in older adults, and research even suggests that loneliness and depression might be intrinsically linked in some ways.
Loneliness and Depression
However, loneliness and depression are not the same thing and should not be conflated. Depression is both a symptom and a diagnosis, and loneliness is a feeling or an experience. The two can be closely related. Loneliness can lead to depression, and depression can cause someone to isolate themselves and become more lonely, so for some, this becomes a vicious cycle that can be difficult to get out of. One study about young people and their experiences with depression and loneliness states, “Young people with depression experience loneliness as an insurmountable distance between themselves and others.” If you’re experiencing loneliness and depression affecting your life, you may struggle to focus on hobbies, work, and other important things. However, while finding a way to connect with people can seem impossible, here are 5 accessible ideas to strive for:
Tips to Overcome Loneliness
- Volunteering is an excellent way to connect with other people. Engaging in altruistic activities can have many psychological benefits, including helping with stress management. Volunteering for a cause you’re passionate about can be an opportunity to find meaning and meet new people and is hugely fulfilling.
- Adopting a pet is another great, easy way to find some connection and a hobby that will give you some much-needed joy. Dogs, cats, and other furry friends are proven to help support mental health. Playing with animals is also proven to increase the production of oxytocin, a hormone also known as the love chemical.
- Therapy is perhaps the most robust option to effectively tackle depression and your struggles with loneliness. When no other options feel like they’re working, or you feel like you need more than what you’re doing today, talking to a professional can help you understand your issues and give you specific coping mechanisms to help. Talk to your Physician for more information. Or you can start with your company’s Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to get connected with a counselor right away.
- Join hobby groups to connect with like-minded people. Even if you are shy or fear of putting yourself out there, connecting over a shared hobby or topic can make it a lot easier.. Look online for meetups, clubs, and groups near you or online that cater to your interests – it’s never been easier to find others who share your interests and want to connect than in our current internet age. This is when social media can come into play for the good.
- Reach out to old friends to strengthen or rekindle existing relationships. This is the low-hanging fruit for those looking to combat loneliness. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone you already know, and even, if appropriate, tell them that you’re lonely. Invite someone from your past to lunch or coffee, just to talk. Human connection is so important that even in small doses can hugely benefit your mental health.
If you’re struggling with loneliness and are concerned that you might be suffering from depression, there are resources available to you and it’s vital that you reach out to someone for assistance. If you’re reading this, you need to know that you deserve help and connection and it is in your reach if you can ask for it.
The National Suicide Hotline can be reached by calling 988.
Tag(s): Employee Stress , Depression , Mental Health , Employee Burnout
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