A few hours each week I volunteer listening to people talk about their problems. Sometimes I hear juicy stories about ex-boyfriends, annoying bosses and past drug abuse; but also the mundane details of other’s lives. One person talks about how much he loves his dog while another just wants to share the details of her grocery list. Sadly, what I’ve learned is that too many adults have no one else to talk to. So while supportive listening isn’t a cure for major disease or a solution for world peace, it means a lot to others in need — especially those who are just lonely.
Social connections are essential for health and wellness – especially during tough times. Yet, our society’s become busier, hands off and, therefore, lonelier. Texting has replaced phone calls. Communities have changed. Fewer have others they can confide in.
According to recent research, people are getting sicker because of social isolation. Whether its heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, immunity, depression, mood or self-esteem, loneliness has a negative impact. Show me a lonely person and underneath is someone suffering in many ways. Knowing this, taking personal connections more seriously and not allowing loved ones isolate themselves is worthwhile.
Calling a friend, reaching out to someone having difficulties — even volunteering — are small steps to take. Perhaps “just being there” doesn’t solve complex problems, but it could produce one less lonely person, reduced social isolation and maybe even a slightly healthier community.