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Can mindfulness relieve loneliness?

Nearly one half of US adults feel lonely and isolated according to a 2018 study. Mindfulness may help.

A randomized controlled trial at the University of Pittsburgh asked 153 self-identified stressed people to try a 14-lesson smartphone-based training to curb loneliness and social isolation. About one-third practiced acceptance and paying attention to thoughts, feelings, and behaviors, both core aspects of mindfulness. The rest received either attention training or learned tools for coping with stress.

Unlike in-person programs where people interact with others, researchers used smartphones to see if learning new skills would boost social contact and reduce loneliness.

After 2 weeks, acceptance and attention group participants had roughly two more social contacts per day, and were 22% less lonely. Adults in the other groups showed little change.

This shows that having an attitude of acceptance and paying attention to our experience can increase social connection and reduce loneliness.


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