Loneliness affects 46% of Americans. Are you experiencing it? Let’s explore what the experts say about these feelings of isolation and what you can do to beat it.
Cigna asked 20,000 Americans over the age of 18 to fill out a survey. The results were astounding. Almost half of them reported that they experience feelings of loneliness. Respectively, 43% said they felt isolated from others and (another 43%) believe their relationships are not meaningful. These numbers are double what they were 20 years ago. (7)
Loneliness is an emotion we all feel at one time or another. It is normal to feel anxiety over being alone. We are social creatures who require human contact just as much as we need food, water, and shelter.
Without it, our health declines and mortality rates rise. Loneliness is our body’s way of warning us that something is wrong. We need to find our people and spend time with them.
But even when we are around people, we may still feel alone. Objective isolation and our perception of alienation can both produce equally lonely feelings.
The Origin of Loneliness
The leading voice in psychology concerning loneliness is John Cacioppo, co-founder of the field of social neuroscience and founder of the University of Chicago Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience and the Director of the Arete Initiative. A rare form of cancer ended his life prematurely in 2018. He spent decades conducting groundbreaking research that will continue through his colleagues for years to come.
Cacioppo’s book Human Nature and the Need for Social Connection is a must-read for anyone experiencing loneliness. In it, he explains that feeling lonely is completely natural; it is our body’s way of urging us to do what is best for our health. Humans, as social creatures require interaction with each other to maintain mental, emotional, and physical wellness.
The painful emotions some individuals experience during isolation is attached to evolutionary history. It brings us back to the carnal instincts required for survival and reproduction purposes. Just as physical discomfort warns us of dangers, the emotional discomfort we experience when alone causes us to want to find security in companions