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Researchers may have spotted a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

Feeling connected to our world could be just a daydream away.

Researchers may have spotted a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

"The eternal quest of the individual human being is to shatter his loneliness."

That's a quote from journalist and activist Norman Cousins. I think he was onto something.

I would argue the most ironic thing about that eternal quest Cousins speaks of is that so many of us are on it. Together. And in the U.S., a growing number seem to be (unfortunately) joining in on the journey.


A 2010 survey found that 35% of American adults over the age of 45 reported being lonely — up from 20% roughly three decades ago, according to Slate. That's not just cause for concern over America's mental health, either — feeling socially isolated increases our chances of dying prematurely, too.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Fortunately, though, we might have uncovered a secret weapon in the fight against loneliness.

And (awesomely enough) it may live within our own imaginations.

A new study by researchers at the University of Sheffield and the University of Sussex in the U.K. found that daydreaming about loved ones may "significantly [increase] feelings of connection, love, and belonging."

In case you're wondering how they got to that conclusion...

  1. Participants (143 students and staff at a British university) all underwent a "loneliness induction," where they answered several questions to gauge how lonely they were. Regardless of their actual answers, each participant was falsely told their score made them "much more lonely than average."
  2. Participants were then separated into three groups: social daydreamers, non-social daydreamers, and a control group.
  3. Both daydreamer groups were instructed to, of course, do just that — daydream. The social daydreamers, however, were asked to imagine a scenario where they were "interacting with another person that [they] have a close, positive, relationship with," while the non-social daydreamers were asked to imagine a scenario that "should just be about [them]." The control group simply did a memory exercise.
  4. Based on answers provided before the loneliness induction, after the loneliness induction, and after the daydreaming task, researchers concluded that those in the daydreaming groups felt a heightened sense of social connection over the control group — especially the social daydreamers.

Photo via Thinkstock.

Like all studies, we should consider the constraints that prevent it from perfectly reflecting reality. Because many respondents were university students, the average participant age was a relatively young 23 years. The sample group was also disproportionately female, as 87 of the 143 participants were women.

Despite the study's limitations, its findings suggest daydreaming could play a role in bettering our cognitive health.

"These findings demonstrate that through imagination, social daydreaming can replenish connectedness, providing a potential strategy for enhancing socio-emotional well-being."

It's nice to know that even just the thought of my friends and family may help me feel even more a part of this big, bustling world of ours. Sweet (day)dreams!

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

"I try to share info in a positive way that gives people hope and makes them aware of solutions or things they can do to try to make the world a little better," she said.

For now, she's encouraging people through a barrage of persistent, informative, and entertaining emails with one goal in mind: getting people to VOTE. The thing about emailing people and talking about politics, according to Hebert, is to catch their attention—which is how lice got involved.

"When my kids were in elementary school, I was class parent for a year, which meant I had to send the emails to the other parents. As I've learned over the years, a good intro will trick your audience into reading the rest of the email. In fact, another parent told me that my emails always stood out, especially the one that started: 'We need volunteers for the Valentine's Party...oh, and LICE.'"

Hebert isn't working with a specific organization. She is simply trying to motivate others to find ways to plug in to help get out the vote.

Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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I remember being baffled that so many people were so convinced of Clinton's evil schemes that they genuinely saw the documented serial liar and cheat that she was running against as the lesser of two evils. I mean, sure, if you believe that a career politician had spent years being paid off by powerful people and was trafficking children to suck their blood in her free time, just about anything looks like a better alternative.

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It's been four years and Hillary Clinton has been found guilty of exactly none of the criminal activity she was being accused of. Trump spent every campaign rally leading chants of "Lock her up!" under the guise that she was going to go to jail after the election. He's been president for nearly four years now, and where is Clinton? Not in jail—she's comfy at home, occasionally trolling Trump on Twitter and doing podcasts.

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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

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For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

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With the election quickly approaching, the importance of voting and sending in your ballot on time is essential. But there is another way you can vote everyday - by being intentional with each dollar you spend. Support companies and products that uphold your values and help create a more sustainable world. An easy move is swapping out everyday items that are often thrown away after one use or improperly disposed of.

Package Free Shop has created products to help fight climate change one cotton swab at a time! Founded by Lauren Singer, otherwise known as, "the girl with the jar" (she initially went viral for fitting 8 years of all of the waste she's created in one mason jar). Package Free is an ecosystem of brands on a mission to make the world less trashy.

Here are eight of our favorite everyday swaps:

1. Friendsheep Dryer Balls - Replace traditional dryer sheets with these dryer balls that are made without chemicals and conserve energy. Not only do these also reduce dry time by 20% but they're so cute and come in an assortment of patterns!

Package Free Shop

2. Last Swab - Replacement for single use plastic cotton swabs. Nearly 25.5 billion single use swabs are produced and discarded every year in the U.S., but not this one. It lasts up to 1,000 uses as it's able to be cleaned with soap and water. It also comes in a biodegradable, corn based case so you can use it on the go!

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