21st May, 2024

Why Loneliness Can Kill, and What to Do About it

With Dr Richard Pile

Photo of Dr Richard Pile

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On this episode

Loneliness is a bigger problem than many of us realise, and it’s been a rising issue even before COVID. It’s not just a feeling of being alone – it’s a mismatch between the quality and quantity of relationships we’d like or need, and the ones we actually have. This mismatch can have a big impair on our lives. In fact, it can be as detrimental to our health as cancer.

But there’s a way to cultivate quality relationships in our lives and make sure we have the social connections we need. It starts with recognising the importance of these connections and taking active steps to maintain them. This could mean setting aside regular time to spend with friends and family, or seeking out new social opportunities.

Loneliness and isolation can lead to a higher risk of premature death, greater than that posed by smoking, physical inactivity, or obesity. So this discussion with Dr Richard Pile will help you make a plan to spend more time with those who energise you. Because overall, it’s the quality of relationships that counts, not just the quantity.

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About the guests

Dr Richard Pile photo

Reasons to listen

  • To learn about the psychological and physiological impacts of loneliness, including how it can be as detrimental to health as cancer.
  • To understand the importance of quality and quantity in relationships, and how they contribute to one’s overall wellbeing.
  • To discover how to create deep connections and combat loneliness in high-stress professions.

Episode highlights


Why loneliness might be more harmful than cancer


Severe loneliness


Covid’s effect on loneliness


Planning for deep connections


Where can we find community?


Useless friends


Friendship and connections


Loneliness on a scale


Knowing who energises you and who drains you


Where to find connection


Richard’s tip tips

Episode transcript

[00:00:00] Rachel: Isolation and disconnection were on the rise even before COVID and that can be incredibly harmful to our health. Now loneliness isn’t just about being on your own, but it’s about the quantity and to a greater extent, the quality of your relationships. If you’re a doctor or a busy professional working in healthcare, you might spend most of your day talking to people, but that’s not the same as connecting with your colleagues over a coffee or a glass of wine after work. And with more meetings being moved online and teams being more distributed, we’re losing…

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