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Conquering Loneliness!

The Power of Coming Together…

'Karen and Jay share thoughts on the epidemic of loneliness that has affected so many people throughout our country and offer positive ideas on how to conquer!'

In each of our lives, there is a basic need for human interaction. That warmth of knowing that other people care about us. A yearning for collaboration and appreciation. A positive feeling of ‘connectedness’ when we interact and learn about each other. And a deep feeling of satisfaction when we unselfishly do something good for another person.

Yet as you look across our great country, there seem to be so very many people now experiencing ‘loneliness.’ Feeling disconnected – Feeling lost and possibly depressed. Some have described this as an epidemic. And it seems to be affecting people – young and old; in cities and in small towns. Moreover – you just have to believe that this widespread phenomenon has profound implications for public health and well-being, as loneliness is associated with increased risk of mental health issues, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality.

So, we ask the questions: Why is this happening? And, with a spirit of ‘can do’ optimism – what can we do solve this problem and put people on the path to more joyful lives – full of active, spirited human interaction?

As to why – I suspect that much of this has to do with what we might call ‘modern day life’ – filled with social media, hectic work schedules and the intrusion of multiple forms of technology into our daily lives. All of these activities tend to ‘crowd out’ the more traditional means by which we would otherwise feed our yearning for human interaction. Fewer family gatherings, fewer relaxed moments for casual conversation, not as many lunches, coffees, or drinks with friends, etc. And of course, Covid dramatically exacerbated the problem of isolation. Meanwhile today being pulled in many directions crowds out opportunities for meaningful interaction. Or even more detrimental, being drawn in to the addictive – but isolated world – of video games, social media, texting and emailing – where there is limited warmth and seldom an opportunity to experience human interaction in full bloom.

So, what to do – especially as these urgencies and forms of technology and escape are not going to magically disappear? My sense is that the answer will have multiple dimensions.

One potential solution lies in reestablishing our priorities and investing in relationships. This can involve reaching out to friends, family, and neighbors, scheduling regular social activities, and participating in community events and gatherings. By making a conscious effort to cultivate these meaningful relationships, we can combat feelings of loneliness and strengthen our social support networks. At the same time, it can be coupled with a discipline – to limit the time devoted to social media, video games, etc. In other words, take charge. Not always easy. But, potentially so very worthwhile.

A very different approach – that can be done in combination with such discipline – involves making a meaningful choice about where we live. There is a powerful case to make for living in a community – perhaps a small town – where your daily activities serendipitously throw you into the flow of human interaction. As I suspect you know, I am a huge proponent of small towns – and the vibrant social networks that these communities can offer. But it doesn’t have to be a small town – it can be a neighborhood within a larger city. It’s wherever you can find a place where there is a ‘sense of community’ that you can intuitively feel and want to be a part of.

These are practical ways each of us can take control of our own lives to combat and ultimately conquer the experience of loneliness. Meanwhile, you can also help others. Take the opportunity to invite others to various informal gatherings – or simply reach out and invite them into your next conversation. Each of us can do a part – and in so doing, the combination of many small steps can work wonders in making this world a less lonely place – allowing us to create a positive human spirit, a zest for health and wellness and an excitement for each new day!

Healing Loneliness: Harnessing the Power of Nature in New Hampshire

In the wake of the 2023 US Surgeon General Report on Our Epidemic of Loneliness and Isolation, it has become increasingly evident that loneliness is a pressing public health concern affecting individuals across the nation. Amidst this backdrop, the healing effects of social connection and community assume paramount importance, especially in the serene landscapes of New Hampshire, where nature's embrace intertwines with the warmth of human interaction.

Cultivating Personal Growth: Loneliness often provides an opportunity for introspection and personal growth. In the serene tranquility of New Hampshire's landscapes, individuals can engage in activities that nurture their passions and interests. Whether it's painting en plein air amidst the vibrant colors of fall foliage or immersing oneself in the pages of a book by the shores of Lake Winnipesaukee, these moments of solitary reflection can be transformative, fostering a deeper understanding of oneself and one's place in the world.

Community as a Balm for the Soul: Beyond its pristine wilderness, New Hampshire's charming towns and villages foster a strong sense of community. From the quaint streets of Portsmouth to the historic charm of Hanover, opportunities abound to connect with others and forge meaningful relationships. Whether it's striking up a conversation with a friendly local at a cozy café or joining a community event such as a lively farmer’s market, these interactions can dispel feelings of loneliness and foster a sense of belonging that nurtures the spirit and nourishes the soul.

Combating Loneliness Through Shared Endeavors: The healing journey from loneliness often involves engaging in shared endeavors that foster a sense of belonging and purpose. In New Hampshire, community-driven initiatives abound, from conservation efforts in the White Mountains to volunteering at local soup kitchens. By coming together to tackle common challenges and work towards shared goals, individuals not only combat loneliness but also experience the transformative power of collective action in creating positive change.

Nurturing Mental Wellbeing Through Social Support: As the 2023 Surgeon General Report highlights, social support plays a pivotal role in nurturing mental wellbeing and combating loneliness. In New Hampshire, a wealth of support groups, counseling services, and community organizations stand ready to offer assistance to those in need. Whether it's attending a support group meeting or reaching out to a trusted friend, seeking help and connecting with others can be transformative, serving as a beacon of hope amidst the darkness of loneliness.

Embracing Connection in New Hampshire's Tapestry: Having hiked many of NH’s trails and mountains, I’ve come to appreciate the joy in ‘just being’ out in the beautiful world of nature.  And at the same time, brief interactions with other hikers tells us we’re not alone and can count on others on our journey in life. My son and I were climbing Mount Washington some years ago and we seriously misjudged how much water we needed to bring along. We were starting our approach to the final summit when a couple of wise and generous hikers recognized our plight and shared some of their precious water with us. So, as we navigate the winding paths of existence, let us remember that amidst the granite peaks and serene lakes of New Hampshire, the thread of connection weaves a tapestry of healing and renewal for all who seek solace in its embrace.

Best Buddies Friendship Walk

There is no better way to combat loneliness than with the power of friendship. At Best Buddies in New Hampshire, that’s what their mission is all about. Best Buddies International is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to establishing a global volunteer movement that creates opportunities for one-to-one friendships, integrated employment, leadership development, inclusive living, and family support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD). The New Hampshire office currently focuses their efforts on friendship and leadership programs, working to end isolation for people with IDD.

The Best Buddies Friendship Walk is the best place to see this mission in action. Best Buddies in New Hampshire (BBNH) is hosting two Friendship Walks this year – On May 11th at the State House in Concord, and on June 22nd at the Town House Commons in Exeter. It’s a great day for families, as there will be a DJ, lunch, face painting, games and more!

At the Walks, you can experience a sense of inclusion that Best Buddies strives to make the “norm.” Everyone is welcomed and celebrated, disability or no disability! The Covid pandemic showed all of us what isolation feels like. For many people with disabilities, isolation is a familiar feeling. Luckily, most of us know how good it feels to have a friend.

Social relationships enhance our lives in so many ways! They support our emotional well-being, improve our mental health, and make life better. In children, in particular, friendship leads to positive gains in social, cognitive, and emotional development. But despite the natural desire for friendship, research shows the disparity for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Compared to their neurotypical peers, people with IDD experience more loneliness, and have more difficulty making and maintaining friendships. The research shows that people on the autistic spectrum have the fewest friends across all other disability categories. Most people with IDD understand friendship, even on an age-appropriate level yet the friendships they envision do not always materialize.

Because of limited opportunities, many people with IDD consider paid support staff their friends (Asselt‐Goverts, Embregts, & Hendriks, 2015; Pottie & Sumarah, 2004). For example, Bigby (2008) found half of the participants with disabilities in their study had no friends other than staff; this is problematic as “there was no evidence that residents stayed in touch with staff once a staff member left the house.”

Best Buddies wants this to change! Every human being deserves the magic and joy that only a true friendship can provide. Help BBNH to combat loneliness across New Hampshire by registering for a Friendship Walk. Join the mission of inclusion and your life will change for the better.

Visit to learn more about this wonderful organization.

Positive Profile of the Week: Lorrie Mailhot and Connecting at the Blue Bear Inn

This week, I’m excited and pleased to highlight an individual whose business is truly combating loneliness by bringing people together – Lorrie Mailhot.

Like the hit sitcom Cheers, Lorrie and her dedicated team at the Blue Bear Inn, located near Crotched Mountain in Francistown, New Hampshire, are ensuring that everyone knows your name and everyone is glad you came. Lorrie purchased the old Crotched Mountain Inn in September 2021; you see, it is her longtime dream to run an inn. She traveled across New England but settled upon a quaint, beautiful location in Francistown, New Hampshire.

Today, the Blue Bear Inn is home to the Winslow Tavern. On any given night, the tavern is packed with locals and people from across the nation who have heard about the warm and inviting presence the inn provides. Lorrie and her husband, Bruno, can be seen giving friendly embraces and bear hugs to first-time visitors and frequent patrons. They’re bringing people together and creating a fun, positive, and inviting atmosphere, which truly is the heart and soul of their business and why it is a frequent destination for so many of my friends.

Lorrie followed her dreams, stuck to her passions, and committed to ensuring a place she had in mind would exist. From their quilting classes, live bands, annual holiday party, and most recently, an eclipse viewing party, Lorrie finds every opportunity possible to bring people together, so everyone feels welcomed, loved, and embraced.

At a time where people are not taking chances and are more concerned about themselves, Lorrie, along with her family and dedicated team at the Blue Bear Inn, is doing something so positive and impactful to everyday life. I encourage everyone to head over to the Blue Bear Inn to truly see what I’m talking about. Learn more at

Positive Quotes of the Week: Conquering Loneliness!

"The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others." - Mahatma Gandhi

"The only way to make a friend is to be one." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Connection is why we're here; it is what gives purpose and meaning to our lives." - Brené Brown

"A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow." - William Shakespeare

"The most beautiful discovery true friends make is that they can grow separately without growing apart." - Elisabeth Foley

"We need not think alike to love alike." - Francis David


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