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Lonely hearts: expert shares how to feel less isolated this Valentine's Day

Posted at 5:33 PM, Feb 12, 2024

HOWARD (NBC 26) — Valentine's Day is known as a celebration of love and connection, but one expert says the social pressure around the holiday can make people feel just the opposite.

  • One expert says the holiday can bring on feelings of loneliness because of the commercialized ideal of a romantic partnership
  • ThedaCare's Melissa Laughlin Holtz shares how to fight isolation at any time of year

(The following is a transcription of the full broadcast story)

Valentine's Day is known as a celebration of love and connection. I'm Pari Apostolakos and I spoke with an expert who says the social pressure around the holiday can make people feel just the opposite.

Last year the United States Surgeon General said loneliness, isolation and lack of connection nationwide were a public health crisis.

Mental health clinician Melissa Laughlin Holtz, with ThedaCare, says many people's loneliness is an after-effect of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says even before COVID broke out, half of adults in the U.S. reported "Measurable levels of loneliness."

Laughlin Holtz says many people also compare their lives to those of others on social media or people too often use the internet to connect with others rather than seeing each other in person.

"I think for Valentine's Day, it's about seeking out those real connections that we do have. And if individuals really don't have those, then maybe take yourself out and treat yourself to some of these things. So, if you like going to the movies or going to dinner, like, still give yourself that same opportunity that everyone else is having."

Hotlz says if you are feeling isolated, join a club or a class to meet people and take a break from social media. She also says to talk to your doctor.

Laughlin Holtz says getting outside at parks like this one can help curb feelings of loneliness. In Howard Pari Apostolakos NBC 26.