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The Antidote to Loneliness and Isolation

Updated: Mar 1



We learned a lot about the health effects of isolation during the Coronavirus pandemic. A year or so after that pandemic officially ended, the pandemic of loneliness continues.


The CDC notes that prolonged social isolation “significantly increases a person’s risk of premature death from all causes, a risk that may rival those of smoking, obesity, and physical inactivity.”


Yeesh.


On the flip side, research shows that fostering social connection bolsters stress resilience. And you don’t have to be a social butterfly to benefit. Having even a few close connections is a powerful antidote to stress.


Maybe you’ve been back in the social swing for a while now, or maybe you’re still feeling a little out of touch with the larger community. Either way, here are a few thoughts on how to make social connections work for your well-being.


Practice Active Listening

Everyone wants to be heard … which is why just listening is so important. If your impulse is to chime in with “me too!” or “what you should do is…” when someone needs an ear, see what happens if you zip it. Listening lessens the other person’s stress, plus you may start to relax into the energy of simply holding space. (This is a skill, BTW: Here’s a great article on how to cultivate it.)


Practice Active Receiving

One of the risks of isolation is that there’s no one to reality-check your stress story. If you get lost in catastrophizing, stress gets worse. When you let others in — not to commiserate, but rather to provide an outsider’s perspective — you may be able to reframe your story, find new solutions, or just feel heard.


Let It All Hang Out

Hanging out with people you truly enjoy is not just fun — it reinforces positive emotions and bolsters self-confidence. Celebrating milestones together boosts resilience by reminding you of your capabilities and providing motivation to keep going even when things are hard.


We’re all in this together. If you can, take some time to check in with friends or loved ones. And if you’d like support during this time, I can help. Email me at jill@jillpatton.com or click the button below to schedule a complimentary 30-minute discovery call.





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