Nicole Bensen

Squashing loneliness

“People who are lonely live shorter lives.” It’s as similar an impact on your life as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.


“People with robust social connections are more likely to live longer, healthier, and happier lives.”


These are quotes I heard while doing research on human connection. (Links to these are shared below if you want to learn more.)

When I left my corporate job to pursue my entrepreneurial dreams I knew there would be challenges, but one I didn’t expect is how lonely it can feel. There’s no colleague who understands your job, your boss, and your company…the shared acronyms and the coffee breaks where you catch up on each others’ weekends. As I type this, I have two, cute cats sitting on my desk, but they aren’t so great at brainstorming ideas with me, you know? 

Actual photo I just took of them:

Two cats sitting on my desk.

Vivek Murthy, former U.S. Surgeon General, is the one who mentioned the “similar to smoking 15 cigarettes” stat, and he described loneliness as stemming from “a lack of meaning, lack of self-worth, lack of social connection.”

This loneliness triggers a chronic stress state in our bodies which impacts our health, longevity, and our productivity.

Side note, this isn’t about being alone (I love spending time by myself!), but about being lonely as described above with “a lack of meaning, self-worth, and/or social connection”—this can happen whether you’re alone or surrounded by people.

So, what can you do if you’re feeling lonely? Follow these three steps:

  1. Acknowledge how you’re feeling. “Name it to tame it.” This can be as simple as saying, “I’m feeling really lonely right now.”
  2. Remember you’re not alone. Reports show anywhere from 25 to 65% of the US population feels lonely.
  3. Take one small action


  • See if your employer has an EAP (Employee Assistance Program) where you can take advantage of included benefits like a coach, counselor, or therapist.
  • Volunteer for a cause you care about. Spend the afternoon at a pet shelter. Google “volunteer senior citizen” (or veteran, or unhoused, or whatever you care about) and see what comes up in your area.
  • Write a letter to cheer someone else up. This could be someone in your life, or a total stranger. I don’t know much about this volunteer organization, but I recently came across “Love for our elders” where they list the name and address of a person who’s been nominated to get some love in their mailbox.
  • Start that text thread of dinner with some friends. (“I can’t do Saturday the 12th, but I can do Saturday the 19th.” We’re all living this same text thread life, right?)
  • Join a club, networking event, or travel group.

Interested in seeing some of the research? Check these out:

A few ways I’ve supported myself with my “work loneliness” include getting business coaches, networking with others in my field, and joining travel groups to get out of my work bubble.

Here are some free resources that can help if you’re experiencing loneliness too:

Other ways to work with me:



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