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All of this busy-ness leaves little time to socialize in meaningful ways with our family, friends and neighbors. Our growing reliance on technology is another culprit. Screen time is changing the way we connect. In-person, face-to-face exchanges are less common.
More of us are living alone, too. Back in the 1940s, living alone was rare. The U.S. Census from that era reported only seven percent of households were solo dwellers. By 2021, the percentage had jumped to 28 percent. Today, about 36 million people live alone.
The social fabric of our world has changed. As people have begun to seek more solitude, that retreat can drift toward self-inflicted loneliness. Over time, choosing quiet time over making time to connect with others can make a person feel left out. Once people feel left out, it's hard to get back in.
So we do a dance back and forth, a mental tug-of-war between staying connected and being left alone. Considering the scientific link between loneliness and poor health, we do so at our own peril.
Medical research shows socially connected people live longer, have better immune systems and respond better to stress. When it comes to warding off everything from heart attacks to dementia, connections matter to your good health.
So how can you reconnect if you’ve had “too much” alone time? Here are some ideas.
Have you ever retreated only to find yourself withdrawing too much? Did your mental or physical health suffer? Tell us about it in the comments.
Just joining us for this series? Check out previous article on physical well-being, or head back to the beginning.
Originally published 8/17/2016; Revised 2022
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