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When you feel alone: Does loneliness affect your immune system?

There is a difference between being alone and feeling lonely.

Some people enjoy being alone, getting away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. But right now, when people have been practicing social distancing for some time, all that time being alone can actually lead to feeling lonely.

That’s a different story. Being alone means there is no one physically near you. Feeling lonely happens when we’re not getting enough social contact. And feeling lonely can also impact our overall wellness.

So, we’re practicing social distancing to stay healthy, but that social distancing might be having a negative impact in other ways. In fact, a major study found that loneliness carries the same health risk as being an alcoholic or smoking 15 cigarettes a day.

Some research suggests the need for social connection might actually be driven by our immune system and the need to diversify our microbiome or gene pool. Online dating platforms are even attempting to capitalize on this, collecting DNA samples and matching people with others who are genetically diverse.

While we don’t have any dating advice for you, we do have some tips on fostering your relationships and supporting your immune system. Fortunately, social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t interact with your support network of friends and family. It just means you must keep your physical distance while doing it.

  1. Give yourself a good foundation

First, a healthy body is a strong body. It’s important to maintain healthy, daily routines like exercise, eating nutritious foods, and filling nutrient gaps with vitamin and mineral supplements. Consider additional supplements that not only provide essential vitamins and minerals that may be missing from your diet, but also support your immune system, like Nutrilite™ Vitamin C Extended Release, Nutrilite™ Vitamin D or Nutrilite™ Immunity Echinacea.*

Nutrilite™ Vitamin C Extended Release dissolves slowly, giving your body a steady stream of the nutrient to absorb throughout the day. Vitamin D, known as the sunshine vitamin, is even more important as people spend more time inside. Nutrilite™ Vitamin D contains this essential nutrient derived from mushrooms, one of nature’s most concentrated botanical sources and one of the few to produce it naturally. And Nutrilite™ Immunity Echinacea features an extract blend that has been clinically tested to support immune function.*

  1. Use technology to stay connected

There are no social distancing rules against having a good long chat with a friend or family member, whether it’s audio or video through your phone, tablet or computer. You could even schedule weekly visits like you used to do with lunch dates so you have something to look forward to.

If you’d rather type than talk, start a good group chat via text or another messaging app that keeps everyone connected. It’s a great place to share family news, a little humor, pictures of adorable pets or maybe even some therapeutic venting. Little connections everyday can go a long way toward thwarting that feeling of loneliness.

  1. Dust off your stationery

Many people have extra time on their hands thanks to the absence of long commutes or the need to get ready to go out as often as before. Use that time to start writing letters to friends or family near and far. Getting the mail has already become a highlight of the day for many who are working from home, you can make it even better by becoming a pen pal.

  1. Connect with people on social media.

Social media can be a great place to see pictures of your friends and family and interact with them in a positive way. However, you should proceed with caution. Research shows if you spend too much time in the digital world, your loneliness could increase. Keep it under 30 minutes a day and choose your interactions wisely to avoid falling down a rabbit hole of negativity.

  1. Take your group gatherings virtual

Thanks to technology, your book clubs, knitting circles, coffee talks and happy hours are continuing in the virtual world. It might take some getting used to and you have to make your own coffee and drinks, but the connections and camaraderie can still happen. If you don’t participate in one of these groups already, consider looking for a community that sparks your interest and join in.

  1. Get a pet

Pets are soothing and make great company, helping you relax, lowering your blood pressure and generally making you feel good. As a bonus, pets also help support your immune system. While you may bemoan the extra cleaning, the dirt and germs they bring inside with them can actually contribute to a healthy immune system for young children.

Learn more

Looking for more ways to support your immune system? Here is a complete list of Nutrilite products that provide immunity support*:


* This statement has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration.  This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.