Speaking to someone for just 10 minutes on the phone can make you feel less lonely, says study

2 months ago 16

Loneliness can affect anyone, at any age.

And the isolating nature of lockdown has meant more and more people are struggling with it.

What’s more, we know that our mental health has taken a huge hit during the pandemic and previous research shows that anxiety and depression are often linked to intensified loneliness.

But the good news is that talking to someone on the phone for just 10 minutes can have a really positive impact.

A new study has found that brief phone calls multiple times a week can reduce loneliness – which is great for those who live on their own, individuals shielding or those in care homes who are currently unable to see their loved ones.

Half of the 240 participants in the study were selected to receive short phone calls from volunteers over the course of a month, while the others did not.

Results published in the Journal JAMA Psychiatry earlier this week show that individuals with calls reported feeling 20% less lonely on average.

Chats were a little over 10 minutes during the first week, but they evened out to 10 minutes during the rest of the month-long study

Researchers measured loneliness on a scale of three to nine. At the start of the study, participants averaged a score of 6.5 – this number had dropped to 5.2 by the end.

But it seems the power of a quick phone call doesn’t stop there – results also showed the chats lessened anxiety and depression.

According to researchers, the number of adults who were at least mildly anxious dropped by 37% and the number who were at least mildly depressed dropped by 25% by the end.

The study’s author, professor Maninder Kahlon, added that these results were ‘even more striking than the loneliness impact, because we hadn’t necessarily expected that degree of result.’

So rather than texting your friend to catch up, why not give them a call next time – it could make a real difference.  

Other ways to cope with loneliness in lockdown:

There are a number of ways to deal with loneliness in lockdown, some of these include:

Stay busy by learning something new

There are plenty of ways to learn new skills either online or through books, and who knows, you might even find a new favourite hobby.

Join an online community

There are online support groups for people who are experiencing loneliness, so you don’t have to feel alone.

Volunteer to help others

Volunteering is good for others and good for the soul, and there are plenty of charities and organisations that need your help.  

Share your feelings

Talking about your feelings of loneliness can help, especially if they are able to offer some support. 

To talk about mental health in an open, judgement-free space, join Metro.co.uk’s Facebook group, Mentally Yours.

Do you have a story to share?

Get in touch at MetroLifestyleTeam@metro.co.uk.

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