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Elemental
Your life, sourced by science. A publication from Medium about health and wellness.

Loneliness

In Elemental. More on Medium.

The phone is better at reducing stress, too

A woman laughing while talking on phone.
A woman laughing while talking on phone.
Photo: Ridofranz/iStock/Getty Images Plus

When it comes to technology, many of us reflexively assume newer is better. So when Covid-19 forced us into isolation a year ago, we turned to our digital devices to stay in touch with family and friends.


Your brain responds to stress differently when you’re by yourself

Credit: Justin Paget / Getty Images

This is a modified excerpt from Inside Your Head 🧠, a weekly newsletter exploring why your brain makes you think, feel, and act the way you do, written by me, Elemental’s senior writer and a former brain scientist. Subscribe here so you won’t miss the next one.


For young people whose developmental task is to connect with other people, the pandemic can feel like life is on pause

The silhouette of a young man looking outside a window alone.
The silhouette of a young man looking outside a window alone.
Photo: Sasha Freemind/Unsplash

During the pandemic there’s been plenty of public service announcements to check in on your elderly neighbors. Especially now, in an era of coronavirus-driven quarantines, they may be feeling isolated and alone.


The Japanese concept of ‘ikigai’ helps explain a boost in longevity

Image: bakhtiar_zein/Getty Images

A group of elderly Japanese women sits around a long table, its surface covered with sheets of paper and stacks of pressed flowers. The atmosphere is cheerful, full of friendly banter. An energetic 84-year-old, Michiko, shuffles through the supplies, picking up petals, then carefully arranges them into an artful composition. She likes coming here, to this senior center in one of Tokyo’s many suburbs, and does so on a regular basis — with flower arrangement class being one of the top attractions. She says that the hobby and resulting friendships provide her with ikigai, a reason for living. …


An investigation into whether audio technology can make us feel less alone

Photo: JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images

It’s 5 p.m. on a Sunday afternoon. I’m cutting up a courgette for that Rachel Khoo recipe I’ve been meaning to try for weeks now. It’s a meal-for-one, as per usual. I’ll be eating it alone, as per usual. Except not really. My good friend Adam Buxton will be with me, droning on about mattresses and his dog Rosie in my ear the entire time. In pursuit of some surrogate company via the medium of podcasts, I know I’m not alone at all.


What a 55,000-person survey reveals about modern loneliness

Photo: Florian Pérennès

Young people today seem more connected than ever to their peers. Compared to older generations, the under-25 crowd grew up with laptops, cellphones, dating apps, and social media. And yet, one of the largest international surveys on loneliness has found that young people ages 16 to 24 report being more lonely than all other age groups.


To solve the loneliness epidemic, it’s time to practice feeling comfortable solo

Illustration: Ellie Ji Yang

“The people that I liked and had not met went to the big cafes because they were lost in them and no one noticed them and they could be alone in them and be together.”

― Ernest Hemingway, A Moveable Feast

Loneliness, experts keep stressing, is a public health crisis.


A dynamo young researcher has discovered that a pill could help address the loneliness epidemic and the aggression that often comes with it

Credit: ibreakstock/iStock/Getty Images Plus

Loneliness was once seen as a minor social woe — a misfortune affecting nursing home patients and extreme introverts — but lately, researchers have begun to view it as something of a public health crisis. Loneliness seems to exacerbate dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure, even cancer. It’s as bad for one’s health as a pack-a-day smoking habit. Meanwhile, at least one in four Americans today report that they don’t feel close to people, and those numbers appear to be worsening.


Something that’s too often misunderstood about loneliness: It’s not the same as being alone

Photo: Martin Barraud/Getty Images

It’s an unsettling sensation: You’re at a party, surrounded by people you know, chatting away — and somehow, in the middle of all those people, you realize that you still feel strangely alone.

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