5 Powerful Ways Of Combating Loneliness On The Job

36
2027

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It’s striking that you’re not alone when you withstand periods of profound isolation.  Recent surveys show a dramatic increase in feelings of chronic loneliness in adults over the last few decades.  Researchers now claim levels range between twenty-five and forty percent of the population. That means as many as seventy-eight million people in the United States crave more social contact than they currently experience.

These feelings are not reserved for the socially awkward or shy.  You can be popular, in a romantic relationship, or occupy an office with fifty coworkers and still grapple with a sense of isolation.  People of all personality types suffer mentally and physically because they are starved for meaningful contact.  Those who are persistently lonely often exhibit signs of depression, anxiety, and early cognitive decline.  In fact, studies reveal they have lowered immune and cardiovascular systems and a higher mortality rate than obese people.

 Related: Overcoming Shyness After 40; Why Now Is The Right Time

Most experts point to technological advancements as the primary reason we are combating loneliness in record numbers.  After all, cell phones, cable, and social media make it possible for us to live in a virtual bubble.  These tools help us communicate, but interfere with intimacy.  In her book Alone Together: Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other, MIT professor Sheryl Turkle describes how our relationships are being damaged by daily online interactions.

 

 

Even work has evolved into a solitary endeavor where we email and text our way through projects and problems until the day is done.  While on break, we check our Facebook or Twitter accounts or shop online.  It’s no wonder we experience feelings of detachment from time to time.  The struggle lies in our unwillingness to change routines and become part of to the office community.  If you’re open to forming or improving your human connections, here are 5 powerful ways of combating loneliness on the job:

1. Exercise: Work It, Girl!

Why not be extra efficient and combine social bonding with physical activity?  Talk about killing two birds with one stone!  Ask a few peers if they’d like to jog or bike or go to the gym before or after work.  You could even get together on the weekend for tennis, golf or a yoga class.  These face-to-face interactions could lead to additional get-togethers and develop casual friendships.

If you can’t find a willing office mate or you work from home, you’ll have to be more resourceful.  Consider using apps to pair you with exercise or sports partners in your area.  While this approach won’t add to your work connections, it will expand your network and get you talking.  Here are a few options to investigate:

 

2. Midday: Are You Free For Lunch?

Has an endless parade of sandwiches and leftovers made you tired of brown-bagging it every day?  If your answer to that question is yes, then get out of the office and bring someone with you.  According to the Food Marketing Institute, forty-five percent of adults now eat lunch alone.  So, make a promise to yourself to ask a coworker to lunch once a week or as often as you can afford.  At first, this may be uncomfortable, but after a few successful outings, you may look forward to it.

If you simply can’t bring yourself to ask in person or you work alone, there are websites that make it easy to arrange a lunch date that is either friendly or romantic.  Remember, when combating loneliness; you must increase your opportunities for social interaction.  So, don’t forget to include your love life.  If you work anywhere near your partner, an occasional lunch date may reduce feelings of alienation. Others may find it necessary to use sites like these to find a mealtime companion:

 

 

3. Charitable Acts: Any Volunteers?

Volunteering makes you feel good.  It also puts you in close proximity to other do-gooders and those who desperately need assistance.  Many companies encourage employees to participate in existing volunteer programs on and off the clock.  This could be a fantastic opportunity to join your peers and make a difference in your community while getting to know them.

When working for a smaller business, it’s more likely you’ll have to take the initiative and start a donation or volunteer program yourself.  While this may be socially awkward, you’ll have a vote on which organizations benefit from the collective generosity.  You could ask peers to donate non-perishables to a local food bank or blankets to an animal shelter or supplies to a school in a poorer community.  The possibilities and needs are endless.  For more options, try:

 

4. Technology: Fighting Fire With Fire

Whether you’re chained to a desk or your office is located remotely, your smartphone and computer will likely be the tools used for combating loneliness.  In this case, your only alternative may be to utilize video calling apps to engage with friends and colleagues and get the face-to-face contact you need.  Fortunately, there’s a wide array of choices depending upon the devices at your disposal.  Here are a few to mull over:

 

5. Support: Time To Get Serious

Perhaps you’ve noticed your mood or mental state have been drifting toward the dark side for a while.  Feelings of isolation often lead to depression and anxiety.  It may be time to cut this off at the pass by participating in a support group or seeking therapy. Just click on the links below to get the process started.

  • Loneliness.SupportGroups.com has over 45,000 members who join discussions, create posts, and send private messages to each other.  There are dozens of other support groups on the site to help you through the rough patches in life.

  • GoodTherapy.org reaches an estimated seven million people per month.  It’s one of the largest therapist directories on the internet and has an informative blog with articles on various topics to inform and support you.

  •  Theravive.com is a network of licensed clinical therapists and psychologists dedicated to getting you the assistance you need.  You can find workshops, seminars, and therapists in your area.  The best feature may be the online and phone counselor listings that allow you to conduct sessions via webcam, phone, email, and instant messenger if you live in a rural area.

Combating loneliness on the job isn’t trivial, it’s an epidemic affecting millions of people.  Perhaps one of these approaches will ease your pain when you experience a sense of isolation.  There are, of course, other methods of staving off feelings of profound isolation.  What tools and techniques do you use to stay connected at work?

 

Loneliness is More Deadly than Obesity

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40% of adults suffer from chronic loneliness & 45% eat lunch alone.  Learn the 5 Powerful Ways Of Combating Loneliness On The Job.

36 COMMENTS

  1. It’s amazing how lonely people are with all this social media and technology. I have a hard time reaching out to people and so I spent many years lonely not really knowing or able to do anything about it. It can be a very hard thing.

    • Hi, Anne. I hope you don’t grapple with loneliness as much as you used to. It can be such a persistent problem. It’s so important to make yourself interact even when you don’t want to. I wish yo the best and thanks for sharing a bit about your struggle.

    • Hello, Suzi. I have to force myself to not work through lunch too. It’s pretty easy to just keep pecking away on my laptop. I hope you get a little more social this week!

    • Hi, Beth. ‘Me time’ is important too. I am content being alone much of the time, so I have to remind myself to socialize. It’s all about balance. Thanks for adding your comment.

  2. This is really interesting. I love to SKYPE/Facetime with distant friends and family. My husband was a driver for 5 years for Meals on Wheels and often he was the only person some of these folks ever saw. IRL connections are truly important, thanks for the reminder!

    • Greetings, Haralee. Isn’t it sad to think about all those people who only see a caregiver or volunteer every once in a while? BTW, I used Facetime frequently and just started using Skype. I love them both. Thanks for your input.

    • Hello, Michelle. Thank you so much for your kind words. I hope the next time you are lonely at work, you use a few of the resources I mentioned and get to feeling better quickly. I appreciate your comment.

    • Hey, Jennifer. I feel as though much of the isolation we endure is because we are scared of rejection. It’s a pity, really. Just one act of bravery could improve the lives of two people. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Great post and welcome to the forum!

    I like the layout of your website.

    I tend to work through lunch or grab 20-30 minutes to myself. I cherish this free time alone as I work with a team in an open plan office all day. This is the introvert in me coming to the surface. I need time to recharge.

    Exercise is a must and I aim to walk daily. It helps to keep me trim and makes me feel perkier.

    • Hi, Phoenicia. Thanks for the compliment on the layout of my site. I like it clean and simple. As far as alone time goes, I hear you. I think it’s all about balance. If you’re lonely, you should get social. If you’re overwhelmed by people, spend time by yourself to recharge. Exercise is a perfect way to do that. Good for you!

  4. You are so right. Social media, laptops, computers, Smartphones do make us secluded and lonely. I have thousands of so called friends on facebook but only a handful that I would really be able to pick up the phone and talk to. I like your suggestions on how to actually meet people. One of the things I do is teach cookery at evening class where adults come to learn. So many of them join – just to get out of the house and make friends. It’s lovely to see them meeting after class too and I keep in touch with them too by meeting them occasionally for coffee.

    • Greetings, Mina. I think you’ve got the right idea about socialization. Teaching adults sounds like a great way to stay connected and contribute to the community. What a great example you are. Sometimes we just need to get creative and figure out a way to solve the problem. Thanks for sharing your experience.

  5. Wonderful tips, Jen. I’m a really social person, so I don’t find social media to be isolating. But I know some people who do. We really have to make an effort to stay connected to the people who are important to us. To do that, my close friends and I schedule calls with one another so that too much time doesn’t elapse between calls.

    • Thanks, Doreen. I like the idea of scheduling calls between family and friends. Life has a tendency of throwing up obstacles or we just get too busy. Great suggestion. I appreciate that!

  6. I like your “ask a coworker to lunch” idea; maybe you can take it further, as follows:
    Get the word out that you want to form a “Gourmet Club” that enjoys a communal meal after work at a new or different restaurant a couple of times a month. (They don’t have to be expensive restaurants; cheap ethnic restaurants are often the best options for this sort of thing.) See what kind of response you get, and take it from there. Worth a shot, eh?

    I’m glad you don’t recommend “Let’s all go to happy hour at a nearby bar.” During my student days – student life can also be lonely – I went to my fair share of ‘alcohol-highlighted’ parties that did little to dispel the alienation I felt at the time (in retrospect, they might have even made it worse).

    • Hi, Andrew. Wow, I like the way you think. A Gourmet Club sounds amazing and fun. It is definitely worth a shot. I didn’t include happy hour activities because it’s not a good idea to drink with coworkers. Some people respond to alcohol as truth serum and will say something to damage or ruin their career. A glass of wine seems alright, but keeping it to a minimum is wise. Thanks for your suggestion.

  7. Very interesting read and I like your advice. That said, I can honestly say that as an “extreme” introvert I am all too content to not have others around. I have close friendships that I treasure, but I can go for days without seeing or talking to anyone (except for my dog) and be quite happy. Ironically, my sister is the complete opposite. She can’t stand to be alone and as a result, she has a tendency to overextend herself to stay busy. I’m going to forward your article to her!

    • Hi, Marquita. Thanks so much for forwarding my article to your sister. I can’t tell you how much that means to me. As far as being an introvert, some days I am and some days I’m not. When I do need some interaction, I make myself go out and find someone to spend an hour or two with. But I can totally appreciate you enjoying your alone time. I like the peace and quiet my job affords me. Thanks for being a part of the conversation.

  8. Not just loneliness on the job, for sure. I’ve worked from home for the last several years, which could be very lonely. But what I’ve found is that I more carefully choose how I am going to spend my social time as well as my intentional alone-time. I really like all of your ideas about increasing your social time–they are positive actions!

    • Hello, RoseMary. Working from home is a mixed blessing for me. I like the peace, but it can get lonely sometimes. I’m glad you have found a good balance. That’s not so easy to do. Thank you for sharing.

  9. I love the interesting topic you have enlighted on in this post since I multitask I never take lunch breaks. It’s jut when having dinner with my hubby we connect and have a word. Man, that’s so dull.
    Thank you, dear, for bringing it to my notice will have to work it out.

    • You’re so welcome, Sushmita. Multitasking and working through lunch can lead to a pretty dull and uneventful professional life. I hope you will consider asking a coworker or friend to lunch once a week to break the routine. Life is for the living! Thanks for your input.

    • Hello, Shirley. Loneliness is a real issue for so many. People tend to hide it well, but it’s there nonetheless. Fortunately, there are strategies to overcome this problem. Thank you for your feedback. I appreciate that.

  10. Reading Facebook and seeing so many people constantly on their phone I often wonder why am I so dull! But I then realize I still talk to people on the phone, actually talk! I know crazy time. A few years ago I realized friends were saying let’s go a walk or a hike and then coffee or how about a hike after lunch.

    • Hi, Haralee. It is amazing to see anyone actually talking to one another at lunch or on breaks. Usually, people just bury their heads in their smartphones. It’s no wonder they are lonely. Thank you for sharing your experience.

  11. I also think it’s important that companies, especially big companies, foster the right atmosphere. Employee engagement is so important and a driving factor as to why many people will stay with a company. And being engaged with their team creates an environment in which they are engaged with their customers. It’s a win/win for any company. Creating events foster engaging with peers is important. This can include organizing competitions that you can only win as a team; having days in which people need to reach out and meet someone new and organizing volunteer events.

    • Greetings again, Jennifer. I love your suggestions for businesses. It is so important for companies to keep employees engaged. It’s not easy, but critical for mental health and morale. Thank you for sharing.

  12. These are some fab tips. I am a people person. Social media is nice, but I need to have lunch, walk with a buddy and meet outside of work socially to bond with people. I have to book this time, as I am a blogger and usually it’s just me and my computer! When I come in from my morning walk with a friend, I am inspired and work so much more efficiently and creatively.

    • Hey, Ellen. It sounds like you are doing what you can to keep from becoming lonely. Thank you for your input. The more we share, the better off we are.

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