COLUMBUS, Ohio — The impact of loneliness may be bigger than ever.
What You Need To Know
- The U.S. Surgeon General has declared loneliness and isolation a ‘public health emergency’, saying it claims as many lives as smoking
- Reportedly, loneliness can not only cause depression or anxiety, but also increase the risk of heart disease
- A counselor gives advice on how to overcome loneliness
The U.S. Surgeon General has declared loneliness and isolation a ‘public health emergency’, saying it claims as many lives as smoking. The advisory says poor connections can raise the risk of heart disease by 29%.
That’s why they’re calling on people to address the issue, but the big question is: How?
Charles Sailor may have the answer.
The 76-year-old lives on his own, but he’s busier than you’d expect.
“I build old cars. I’ve built five or six decks for people,” said Sailor.
He’s also pretty popular for his age.
“I got a huge amount of friends,” said Sailor. “Some of them I’ve had since grade school, and I keep in touch with them.”
It’s how Sailor fights the feelings of loneliness.
“I live alone because I choose to, but I refuse to get lonely. I won’t do it,” he said.
But others aren’t so lucky.
According to the U.S. Surgeon General, loneliness is a big problem right now, and clinical director at Open Arms Counseling Patrick Mettle sees this day in and out.
He explains COVID was a big part of it.
“People developed a lot of unhealthy habits… not going for that walk, or doing some of those hobbies that we normally used to, especially with COVID,” said Mettle.
He explains loneliness can be detrimental, leading to depression or anxiety, but says it can be overcome.
“Reaching out to old friends. What are things that you like to do to make yourself happy?” Mettle said. “Also, that physical side… maybe it’s going for a walk or eating better.”
Coming from someone who lives alone, Sailor said part of it is mind over matter.
“I’ve never quit any work I do. I won’t quit. I’ll keep doing it, and I only do things I like, so why not?” he said.
If you’re struggling with loneliness, there are plenty of mental health and community resources to help. Mettle said the sooner you get help, the better you’ll be.