The feeling of disconnection or a lack of authenticity in relationships can lead to feelings of distress or discomfort known as loneliness. While isolation can contribute to loneliness, someone can be surrounded by people and still perceive a gap between desire for attachments and their ability to experience connection.[1] Chronic loneliness can lead to other mental health problems such as anxiety or depression. Loneliness is an involuntary separation from people, and is a state of mind that can make developing relationships more challenging, despite the underlying desire to have human contact. [2].

Contributing factors to loneliness can include moving to a new location, the death of someone significant, depression, and low self-esteem.[2] Loneliness is on the rise, with research showing that 25% of adults between the ages of 18 and 27 report having no close friends.[3] Although created to foster connection, apps such as Instagram, SnapChat, and TikTok can do more harm than good. A study out of Penn University demonstrates that using less social media than normal leads to significant decreases in both depression and loneliness.[4] 

Tips to Overcome Loneliness

  • Recognize that loneliness is a sign that something needs to change
  • Limit your time on social media, no more than 30 minutes a day is a great goal
  • Focus on developing quality relationships over quantity, invest in a few close friends with similar attitudes, interests and values
  • Stop negative thoughts and reframe your focus on real-life activities you can engage in with people face-to-face
  • Be friendly to strangers - small acts of connection (with a cashier or a neighbor) can often make a difference in reducing feelings of loneliness

Ways to Create Belonging on Campus

Additional Resources

Watch: Lessons from the longest study on happiness

Read: Creating a Meaningful Connection with Almost Anyone

Listen: Unlocking Us podcast episode with Brene Brown and Dr. Vivek Murthy discussing loneliness and connection


[1] Psychology Today. (2022). Loneliness. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/basics/loneliness#:~:text=Loneliness%20is%20the%20state%20of,a%20deep%20and%20pervasive%20loneliness.

[2] Cherry, K. (May 24, 2022). Loneliness: Causes and Health Consequences. Retrieved on June 28, 2022, from https://www.verywellmind.com/loneliness-causes-effects-and-treatments-2795749

[3] Ballard J. (July 30, 2019). Millennials are the loneliest generation. YouGov. Retrieved on June 28, 2022 from, https://today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2019/07/30/loneliness-friendship-new-friends-poll-survey  

[4] Hunt, M.G., Marx, R., Lipson, C., Young, J. (December 2018). No More FOMO: Limiting Social Media Decreases Loneliness and Depression. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, Vol. 37 No. 10. https://doi.org/10.1521/jscp.2018.37.10.751