This Simple Practice Alleviates Loneliness & May Help You Live Longer

mbg Contributor By Elizabeth Gerson
mbg Contributor
Elizabeth Gerson is a former mindbodygreen intern and a student at Stanford University studying Psychology and Communication with a specialization in Health & Development.
Feeling Lonely Or Isolated? New Study Shows This Tactic Can Help

Image by Javier Díez / Stocksy

We often hear about the best workouts and diets to live a long life, but longevity relies on many other factors, as well. Loneliness and isolation, for example, can actually increase your risk for depression and even early mortality, but new research published in the journal PNAS may have found the key to solving this problem.

The Carnegie Mellon study found people who did a smartphone-based mindfulness training reported feeling less lonely and were actually more social.

Through a two-week mindfulness training on their smartphones, participants focused on one of three topics: awareness, coping, or mindfulness. Out of the three groups, those doing the mindfulness practices experience improved quality of life, whereas the other two groups didn't see any change at all.

The mindfulness group didn't just feel better; they actually had on average two more social interactions per day after their training and reduced their loneliness by 22 percent. This is significant because social connection is a basic human need, and when lacking, you could suffer serious health consequences (some even report the mortality rate of loneliness to be greater than smoking 15 cigarettes a day).

The main finding the researchers wanted to emphasize is how a regular mindfulness practice can be beneficial. But what exactly is mindfulness? It could be as small as taking moments for yourself throughout the day or following regimented meditation techniques. Mindfulness can come in all shapes and sizes, but it should promote awareness and acceptance regardless.

If you find yourself feeling more isolated or lonely lately, beginning a mindfulness practice may provide the relief you need in the short term while also bettering your health down the road.

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