Not the elderly, Gen Z has decided that it's the most lonely age group of all — and it might just be killing them.

According to a new study by Cigna's U.S. Loneliness Index, which surveyed more than 20,000 U.S. adults, nearly every respondent reported sometimes or always feeling alone or left out, while younger generations experienced much more loneliness than their elders, reaching "epidemic levels."

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18 to 22-year-olds (Gen Z), in particular, are reported to be the loneliest of all, identifying with 10 of the 11 loneliness factors, including feeling like those around them aren't really a part of their life or don't know them well and shy. Even more concerning, loneliness is said to be more detrimental to one's health than 15 cigarettes a day. Essentially, being lonely makes you stressed, and stress leads to chronic inflammation, hence its affect on mortality.

So what can be done? The right work-life balance is a good start. If you're working too little, you're more likely to feel unhappy than if you were working too much, but in any case making sure you have enough time to focus on yourself is of the utmost importance. Predictably the biggest factor in reducing loneliness is meaningful connection, says Cigna, but exercise, family time, and sleep also help dramatically.

Stay safe out there kids.

Image via Fox

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