The article below goes into quite a bit of detail about how loneliness affects us all, in different ways, but it does affect us. The pandemic made it pretty plain, as people isolated and stayed away from large gatherings, but it was going on long before that, for one obvious reason:
“We ask people to exercise and eat a healthy diet and take their medications,” he said. “But if we truly want to be healthy, happy and fulfilled as a society, we have to restructure our lives around people. Right now our lives are centered around work.”
Since the pandemic, we’ve heard a lot of people talk about redesigning work and redefining the role work should play in our lives. This article explains why this is so important right now. The epidemic of loneliness was ongoing long before 2020. The pandemic made it everyone’s issue. Science, and our own experience, tell us that we aren’t good when we are lonely. It’s bad for mental health, our ability to focus, and bad for physical health issues. There is research out there that shows that people who feel extremely lonely show a change in their DNA. It goes that deep.
They also point out that whether being lonely causes that change or whether that DNA change makes someone more likely to feel lonely is unclear. What is clear, though, is that helping someone feel less lonely is a worthwhile goal. Helping someone feel like they are part of a community and have something to offer that community helps them. It’s one of the keys to suicide prevention too.
If work gets in the way of this happening, if abusive relationships or stigma get in the way, it can have fatal consequences.
As we consider what the future of our workplaces should be, we’d do well to remember that our people have lives outside of work and are better off when they can enjoy the people in their lives outside of work.
As much as I have made some really good friends at work, that isn’t how it works for many people and isn’t how we are designed to be. We all need to have a community we are connected to and contribute to. That can’t just be our job.
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