Medical Monday: Loneliness

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(WXOW) – Winter may be the time we associate with the blues, but loneliness knows no season.

Gundersen Health System wellness education specialist Shayna Schertz said people can spend time alone without feeling lonely. But, she added, it’s those feelings of emptiness or isolation that create a health problem.

Even in a crowd, according to Schertz, people can feel lonely. There are ways to combat these feelings without a health professional, though. Gundersen recommends the following:

  • Recognize and express yourself by writing in a diary or writing a letter to a friend or relative, drawing or painting a picture or making up a song.
  • Get out of the house to help you feel less alone. Sunlight will give you a dose of vitamin D, which increases levels of “feel-good” chemicals in the brain called dopamine and serotonin.
  • Keep busy to help take your mind off of feeling lonely.
  • Socialize with friends or family. This gives you a chance to talk to others about your feelings.
  • Get moving by walking, gardening, shopping, cleaning, etc. Moving is the best way to increase your brain’s production of dopamine.
  • Choose a hobby you have always wanted to get into and be sure it’s something you enjoy.
  • Get involved at work, in a community club or through volunteering. This is a great opportunity for interaction with others.
  • Know that you are not alone. There are times in everyone’s life when we feel lonely. Knowing how to escape those feelings is key to overcoming feelings of loneliness.

When the loneliness lingers, however, Schertz said it could be a sign of something more serious. If you or someone you know is battling feelings of depression, it’s best to consult a care provider.

Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke

Dustin Luecke anchors News 19 Daybreak weekday mornings.

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