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According to the Campaign to End Loneliness, loneliness can be as damaging as smoking 15 cigarettes a day. It is also associated with increased risk of heart disease, stroke, and blood pressure, as well as dementia
Having healthy social networks can decrease the risk of mortality and of developing diseases, as well as helping people recover when they are ill.
Recognizing the impact loneliness could have on you is the first step to tackling it.
The mental health charity Mind cites two main factors that can cause loneliness:
Spending time online obviously cannot replace all your real-life interactions, but it can help.
However, the research found a link between loneliness and time spent online, so it is important to supplement online chats with actual meetups, too.
Some research suggests that who you spend your time with matters, too.
One study in 2011 found that elderly people who spent time with family were less lonely than those attending social groups with strangers.
One 2010 study found that approaches designed to change "maladaptive thinking” – such as negative beliefs or black and white thinking – were, on average, four times more effective than any other kind of approach.
Attending CBT might be a good start, the study authors suggest, so perhaps consider speaking with a therapist.
Learning to enjoy time on your own can be just as important as a good social life.
Fill your time with hobbies that interest you and appreciate the pleasure that these things give you.
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