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Feelings of loneliness can intensify around the holidays

“The holidays, for some people, are a fun time. But then for a lot of people, they’re not.” Photo: Pexels

(A. Pawlowski/ Today) — It’s not unusual for many Americans to spend a lot of time alone — more than a quarter live by themselves, and more than a third of those who can work from home do so every day, surveys have found.

Add food delivery and online shopping to the mix, and you might never interact with another human being in person for days, which can be fine if that’s what you want. But when does all that alone time turn into loneliness?

A recent study put a number on that question: People start feeling lonely when they spend more than 75% of their time by themselves, researchers reported in the December issue of the Journal of Research in Personality.

That sounds like a lot of solitary time, but it may be surprisingly common in real life. It amounts to engaging in less than four hours of conversation with others every day, says Matthias Mehl, Ph.D., co-author of the study and professor of psychology at the University of Arizona. (…)