Three Dog Night once sang “One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.”
It’s been 50 years since that song was released, and yet the line still resonates today.
Although we are more connected than ever through texting and social media, we have become lonelier human beings.
Earlier this year, MDLinx, which is a news service for physicians, went so far as to call loneliness “an epidemic.” It affects nearly up to 47 percent of adults, doubling the amount nearly a decade ago.
A 2018 survey from The Economist and the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) found that more than 2 in 10 adults in the United States and the United Kingdom said they often or always feel lonely, feel that they lack companionship, feel left out or feel isolated from others, and many of them say their loneliness has had a negative impact on various aspects of their life.
To help combat loneliness, the U.K.-based Marmalade Trust launched in 2017 Loneliness Awareness Week. This year the week was June 17-22. The vision of the Marmalade Trust is to create a society where loneliness is recognized openly as something likely to affect us all and at some point in our lives.
Here in the U.S., we have National Cheer Up the Lonely Day, which is celebrated every year on July 11. Just like Loneliness Awareness Week, it encourages people to connect with others as a way to be less lonely.
Loneliness can be caused by a number of things: physical, mental or even financial health. And it doesn’t matter what age, the study found. Although loneliness is often associated with seniors, studies tell us that millennials — who are often thought as the most “connected” — feel lonely as well.
And if you look at the data collected during the 2015 General Social Survey, it’s sad. The survey found that the number of Americans with no close friends has tripled since 1985. Often, the answer was “zero” for the number of close friends or confidants.
KFF reported that the reason for the loneliness is because of lack of social support. Friends and families live farther away is a main reason. The other is that if they do have any social connections, it’s because of the lack of a deeper connection.
But how can you combat loneliest? It’s simple, reach out and connect.
One of the best ways we know to connect is through tea time, of course!
The idea of having tea is more than just an excuse to eat small sandwiches and to sip tea. It’s a time to share stories, laugh and to drink a nice cup of tea. Most importantly, it’s a chance to reconnect.
We have a great idea on how to combat that loneliness over a cup of tea or even a tea party.
• Invite people you barely know. Include neighbors you only wave at in the hallway or over the hedge. You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common.
• Ask everyone to bring their favorite tea with enough to share. You’ll be able to sample different teas as well as hear stories on why each flavor is his or her favorite.
• Encourage your guests to bring their favorite tea cup. Ask them to share a story on why it’s their favorite, where they got it and the history behind it.
• Milk, tea, sugar, honey, plain? Play a guessing game with your guests. For those who either just use sugar or honey get to try milk. It’s about exploring new things and maybe having a laugh or two.
• Make a plan. The night of the first event, go ahead and set the next date for your tea party plan to go to a tea house or a movie, or whatever the group decides. Having something to look forward to encourages you to keep in touch with your new group.
Loneliness can easily turn into depression. If you are having trouble sleeping; notice a change in eating habits (too much or too little); there’s a change in behavior such as being more agitated; can’t concentration or are having weight loss/gain, please seek a mental health professional.
But we hope that on July 11, you want to reach out to someone and celebrate National Cheer Up the Lonely Day with a great conversation over a cup of tea.