The Public Health Plight That Doesn’t Bleed: Loneliness

DETROIT (CBS DETROIT) – Do you feel lonely? If so, you’re not alone. Loneliness affects more than one-third of American adults.

WWJ Health Reporter Dr. Deanna Lites looks at new project focusing on reducing the burden of loneliness.

Jeremy Nobel, MD, MPH, and founder of the Foundation for Art & Healing, has launched The UnLoneliness Project.

Dr. Nobel says the best way to reduce that lonely feeling, especially around a holiday, is by being creative.

“In using creative expression to engage with others, you welcome them into your personal experience of the holiday in a meaning-laden way,” says Nobel, “while simultaneously building a sense of connection that likely reduces your own seasonal stress.”

Studies have shown that loneliness and social isolation can have a negative effect on your physical and mental health.

“It’s about feeling less connected to other people, as if you don’t count. As if your story doesn’t matter,” says Nobel.

Even with all of the ways to connect over social media more than a third of American adults are lonely. Health risks associated with loneliness and social isolation are comparable to the dangers of smoking and obesity, increasing mortality risk by up to 30 percent.

Whether that’s through art, music, cooking or sewing — it’s best if you can share your creative outlet in a variety of ways.

“Connecting face to face may be the most powerful way, and we are also very impressed with recent studies showing that online virtual connectivity, when designed well, can provide similar benefits in terms of reduction of loneliness and isolation,” says Nobel.

Learn more about the UnLoneliness Project and the Foundation for Art & Healing.

More from Dr. Deanna Lites
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