In an era of social distancing, it can mean calling, texting to check-in, giving a gift, or driving by and waving. “Supporting others can convey meaning and purpose,” said Dr. Holt-Lunstad. “It can strengthen social bonds and in turn lead to less loneliness.”
When searching for connections, focus on your unconditionally supportive friends and family members. Some research shows that when their friendship networks include people who cheated on them, weren’t there for them in difficult times, often argued with them, or otherwise evoked negative feelings, people feel more stressed and disconnected. In other words, a call to a close friend is likely to help more than a college meeting about Zoom.
“It’s not enough just to improve social contact,” said Bert Uchino, professor of psychology at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. “You have to strengthen the contact in the relationships that are important and very positive to you. I think these are relationships that people get through. “
Help a stranger.
This could also be a good time to help out your neighbors. Dr. Holt-Lunstad and her colleagues used the neighborhood social app NextDoor to randomly assign people to small, friendly acts – like delivering groceries, chatting over a fence, or participating in a neighborhood clean-up – and found that the Loneliness rate decreased from 10 percent to 10 percent in people who did the kind of deeds.
Research has shown that you don’t even need to know the people you’re helping. Just donating money to a good cause might help, said Dr. Uchino. In a series of experiments, researchers found that people who gave money to others were happier than when they spent it on themselves.
But when you are overwhelmed with giving, it can become harmful. Instead, try hobbies like cooking, gardening, writing in a journal, or even listening to music. Creative arts can also reduce loneliness, and while in-person singing in a choir may not currently be possible, singing from balconies or through virtual groups can be powerful.
Achieve in real life.
Loneliness can occur at any age, but young people can bear the brunt of canceled activities and lost social time. An estimated 73 percent of Generation Z adults said they felt lonely in a poll published by the American Psychological Association in October.