What can we do when we feel lonely and utterly disconnected from the rest of the world? As it turns out, the antidote for loneliness is all around us. It’s in our homes, our neighborhoods, our workplaces, our schools, and our broader community. Decades of public health research show that if we improve positive connections to others in these often overlooked areas of everyday life, we’ll feel better, live longer, and lead healthier lives. With that said, here are three ways that you can create more positive connections with others and leave loneliness behind.

First way: practice kindness. It can be harder to be kind to yourself than to others, so start with others. Little acts of kindness are as important as grand gestures and can boost your mood. Look for opportunities to do something unexpectedly lovely. Buy a friend a cup of coffee or flowers, give a compliment, offer to walk your neighbor’s dog, or ask a cashier how her day is going. If you have more time, volunteer or organize a park cleanup or mural painting in your neighborhood.

Second way: put down your phone (or pick it up and call a friend). Aim to increase your face-to-face time with people you care about, and please put away your phones when you’re together. Research shows that even having your phone on the table distracts from engaging with the person in front of you. If you live alone, then use your phone to reach out to a friend and say hello—perhaps you can even ask to meet up for coffee or lunch. Even if they say no, just reaching out is a success.

Third way: take a class or teach one. A lifelong learning habit is one of the best ways to boost your brain function and connect with others. It can be a one-off event or a recurring activity. Airbnb also offers one-of-a-kind local “experiences” now where you explore new neighborhoods with an insider, learn aerial moves with a circus star, or finally track down that elusive world’s best pizza slice. And if you’re an expert in one field or another, offer to lead a class; sharing what you know with others is the perfect way to connect.

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