Researchers Claim Giving Meaning to Everyday Tasks Could Help Ease Loneliness

Daniel Davies
·2-min read
Photo credit: skynesher - Getty Images
Photo credit: skynesher - Getty Images

From Men's Health

Lots of us have spent the past year inside, disconnected from friends, family and loved ones, and that comes at a cost, for many people the cost is loneliness.

There is obviously no easy cure for that right now, but researchers from the University of California, Riverside think they might be able to help. During a study on the link between rituals and loneliness, they found that people who adopt unique habits when eating and drinking make those tasks more meaningful and as a consequence feel less lonely.

"We found that something as simple as preparing tea in a certain way, as long as it's interpreted as a ritual, can make the experience more meaningful," said Thomas Kramer, a professor of marketing at UC Riverside's School of Business. "This makes people feel less lonely."

For the study, participants were asked to complete activities designed to induce loneliness, before being asked to complete a real or imagined act of ritualised consumption, like the "twist-lick-dunk" technique for eating cream-filled cookies. The researchers discovered that participants who did this felt less lonely and as though their life had more meaning.

"Many people are trying to find structure right now because everything is so chaotic," Kramer said. "The implications of our study are that if you feel lonely, find a ritual. It doesn't have to be elaborate. It can help you feel less lonely by providing a sense of meaning and purpose."

A word of warning before you start dunking your teabag precisely 17 times every time you make a brew or adopt the "twist-lick-dunk" technique. This research was carried out by experts in marketing looking to find out the relationship consumers have with brands, and while the rituals did make participants feel less lonely immediately after the test, they didn't follow up to determine how long this feeling lasted.

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