Mental Health

The Cost of Loneliness on Our Body and Soul

Loneliness isn't just an emotional state; it can silently cause an impact on our mental and physical health too. Learn how loneliness can impact your health and what to do about it.

By URLife Team
09 Dec 2023

According to a 2015 study by Brigham Young University, loneliness and social isolation are just as much a threat to longevity as obesity. The study also mentioned that lack of relationships is a bigger health risk, especially for people under age 65.


Loneliness isn't just about the feeling of being alone; it is an experience that silently creeps into the lives of many and is a heavy burden often masked by smiles. It may be a drizzle that seeps into your days, making everything feel a bit heavier and impacting your mood more than you’d like to admit. It may be your shadow that tags along, even amongst a bustling crowd. Loneliness often comes uninvited, wrapping around moments that should be lively and warm, casting a chill.


Loneliness can’t always be fixed by being around others. Even with plenty of social connections and support, someone can still grapple with feelings of loneliness.


Sometimes, loneliness stems from a lack of meaningful connections or a sense of understanding rather than mere physical isolation. It's possible to feel disconnected even in a crowd, yearning for deeper, authentic connections that resonate with one's inner self. The quality of relationships often matters more than the quantity when it comes to combating loneliness. This emotional state can persist until one finds connections that truly fulfil their need for understanding and companionship.


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Impact of Loneliness

The impact of loneliness extends far beyond mere moments of solitude. It shapes our perceptions and changes our perspective. Loneliness impacts our emotional, mental and physical well-being and also affects our cognitive abilities and behaviour in many ways. Breaking the shackles of loneliness requires meaningful connections that can ignite a spark in you and a deeper understanding with those you resonate with.


Mental Health

Loneliness affects our mental health in profound and unforeseen ways. It can manifest in different ways for different individuals. The absence of meaningful connections and a sense of understanding could trigger a range of emotional struggles like anxiety, depression and much more.



Have you ever felt a knot in your stomach, or a feeling that something is stuck in your throat or a racing heart, or those restless thoughts that just won't quiet down no matter how hard you try to calm yourself down? Loneliness can fuel these anxious feelings. When you feel disconnected or lack meaningful connections, it can trigger a sense of worry and unease. Living in isolation is like being stuck in a loop of worry, always feeling like something isn't quite right. This absence of social connection deprives us of the support and understanding needed to navigate life's twists and turns.



Loneliness can be like a heavy fog that settles over our minds. It can make us feel sad, hopeless, or empty inside. When we feel isolated, it's easy to sink into a state of low mood or even depression. Everything might seem grey and heavy, and it's hard to find the energy or motivation to do things we once enjoyed. One might not understand how and when they are under the grip of depression if they feel lonely often.


Thoughts of Self-Harm

As stated in the 2010 study in ‘The Interpersonal Theory of Suicide’, ‘Social isolation is arguably the strongest and most reliable predictor of suicidal ideation, attempts, and lethal suicidal behavior among samples varying in age, nationality, and clinical severity.’


While there might be many reasons that lead to individuals attempting self-harm, more than a century of research concludes that there is a significant link between a lack of social connections and death by suicide. Research suggests that healthy and meaningful social connection may protect you against suicide as a cause of death, especially for men.


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Physical Health

The effect of loneliness is not limited to mental and emotional health. Research shows that data across 148 studies, with an average of 7.5 years of follow-up, suggest that social connection increases the odds of survival by 50 per cent.


Cardiovascular Health

Loneliness isn't just an emotional burden; it can weigh on our hearts quite literally. A synthesis of data across 16 independent longitudinal studies shows poor social relationships (social isolation, poor social support, loneliness) were associated with a 29 per cent increase in the risk of heart disease and a 32 per cent increase in the risk of stroke.


A 2022 report by the American Heart Association concluded that social isolation and loneliness are common, yet under-recognised, determinants of worsening cardiovascular health and brain health.



According to a 2022 published in the Jackson Heart Study, greater social support in this group is associated with a 36 per cent lower risk of high blood pressure in the long-term. Among older adults, the effect of social isolation on hypertension risk is even greater. 


Feeling lonely can lead to higher stress levels, which can, in turn, contribute to increased blood pressure levels. This elevated blood pressure, if left unchecked, can pose risks to our overall health. Also, in many of the cases, the symptoms of hypertension are not present or subtly present, which makes it difficult for individuals to be aware of this underlying condition.



Better diabetic management was found for those who were living with family or strongly connected with friends. In a meta-analysis of 28 studies, social support from family and friends was significantly associated with better self-care, particularly blood sugar monitoring. Another 2010 study by the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that among older adults with diabetes, those with a large social support network size (at least six close friends) had a reduced risk of all-cause mortality.


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Ways to Combat Loneliness

Make Social Connections

Just as loneliness can make us feel uneasy, being with friends and loved ones has a magical way of brightening our days. Recognise that isolation can make us feel worried or restless, while socialising can lift our spirits and bring comfort.


Invest Time in Relationships

Every relationship requires time to grow and evolve. Invest time  through frequent and consistent engagement with others. Allow yourself some time specifically to reach out to a friend or family member. Show them love and care, and watch these bonds grow stronger.


Engage with Individuals of Different Experiences

Connect with people from diverse backgrounds and experiences. Diverse connection helps to expand our understanding and think from unique perspectives and insights that can broaden our horizons and make us feel more connected to the world around us.


Reflect the Core Values of Connection

Reflect on the values that foster connection. Kindness, empathy, and understanding are like seeds that, when planted, grow into beautiful connections. Living by these values strengthens our bonds with others.


Join Social Groups

Engage in social and community groups. Whether it's a book club, a volunteering opportunity, or a hobby group, participating in such gatherings provides a sense of belonging and offers opportunities to form new connections.


Regular health checks are essential for everyone, but they are particularly important for individuals who are at risk of or already have any underlying condition. Taking regular health checks can help detect the condition at an early stage when it is easier to manage and treat. With the UR.Life HRA, we help you to invest in your well-being through seamless interventions and targeted medical treatments. Our holistic wellness approach caters to all aspects of your well-being. We ensure that you can bring your whole self to work.

With our medical professionals by your side, routine health check-ups will never be an issue. Advanced laboratory technologies back UR.Life’s Occupational Health Centers (OHC), and with highly qualified experts/technicians, we’re committed to delivering trusted and quality recommendations, modifications and advice to you.



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