And the consequences of such levels of loneliness go beyond the lost art of conversation. Former US Surgeon General Vivek Murthy called loneliness a serious health concern. Alongside mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, loneliness can impact sleep quality, reasoning and productivity. It’s been linked to a 29% increase in the risk of coronary heart disease and considered as damaging to health as smoking a packet of cigarettes a day.
“We’ll go to the doctor when we feel flu-ish or a nagging pain,” says psychologist and author Dr Guy Winch, who is working with Lipton. “So why don’t we see a health professional when we feel emotional pain such as loneliness?”
“We say things like ‘Oh, you are feeling depressed or lonely, shake it off, it’s all in your head. Can you imagine saying that to someone with a broken leg?” he says in his TED Talk ‘Why we all need to practice emotional first aid.’
In a connected world you may not associate your circumstances with feelings of loneliness. But, says Dr Winch, “loneliness is defined purely subjectively. It depends solely on whether you feel emotionally or socially disconnected from those around you.” Which means you may be surrounded by people every day and fill many hours of your life on social media and still feel alone.
And this is really where Lipton’s new brand purpose comes in. “Lipton has always been a brand that created connections,” says Lipton’s Global Vice President, Jennifer Antczak. “Tea really helps people to be present in the moment. And that is exactly what a quality connection is. It is a genuine connection where you are present in the moment and feel truly engaged with the other person.”