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'Tis the season when exposure to others can be especially good for you.

Mixolo, your "flu shot" for this seasonal bug...

Mixolo purposefully avoids words like ‘loneliness,’ and even ‘alone,’ opting instead for ‘solo’– a term that seems to describe self-determination, empowered choice.

We know that most Mixolo members are already accustomed to navigating solo. Geographic mobility for career and other reasons means we’re not always close to family members and childhood friends, so we join clubs, networking associations and other organizations so we can enjoy the company of others.

Even so, as the holidays approach, the days shorten and many of us without close family or friends nearby steel ourselves for the festive imagery of the season. We may feel like outsiders standing apart as others enjoy the fun. Further, if you are one of the growing number of self-employed who work at home or participate in the gig economy, you may not be part of company holiday parties or gift exchanges when the season rolls around.

In the modern world, loneliness has become an epidemic–and a dangerous one at that. Loneliness, or the stress and anxiety associated with isolation, coupled with internalized societal stigma (real or imagined), can interfere with sleep and undermine your immune system, increasing your risk for heart disease and accelerate cognitive decline.

In Great Britain, Prime Minister Theresa May went so far as appointing a cabinet level “Minister of Loneliness” to address the public health risk posed by isolation–perhaps the first time an international leader has embraced social interaction as a key to public health.

Loneliness, of course, is different from being alone. The number of Americans living alone has grown in the last century from about 5 percent in the 1920s to over 27 percent today. Moreover, 42 percent of adults don’t have a romantic partner, with the largest gap among those 35 and younger, 61 percent of whom are going it alone. But solitary status when it comes to your home or your bed does not necessarily predict loneliness. A 2012 study from the University of California San Francisco found that most of those reporting loneliness were married or lived with others, and were not clinically depressed.

The nagging symptom of FOMO (or fear of missing out), like a persistent scratch in the back of your throat, can start with seeing others’ goofy Halloween costumes posted on social media and blossom into full-fledged lonely by New Year’s Eve – that holiday, it seems, when being part of a couple or a crowd is viewed as "essential."

It doesn't help that many hospitality and entertainment venues tend to overlook an entire market in favor of the coupled and grouped. Mixolo is actively breaking down these barriers, with some headwind, as some venues, despite empty seats, resist the culture shift that could be a win-win for all.

The best medicine? Reach out and increase your connections. Consider joining our network of ready-to-go-out solos. Think of a Mixolo membership as a flu shot to ward off the season’s current strain. Mixolo has a stack of invitations awaiting your RSVP. Join not-yet friends at our always festive gatherings–from culinary events to musical performances.

We believe solos want to go out, without stigma. We're partnering with solo-friendly event coordinators and venues who want to make it easier for the unaccompanied guest to step out on their own and find community when they arrive.

No more opting out of things you want to do when your friends and family circle aren't interested. At Mixolo, we are building an IRL (in real life) social network for solo adults, regardless of relationship status, who want to step out on their own and would like to enjoy events and experiences with other people who share their interests. We're the going out app! No plus-one required.

In our beta stage, we're curating solo-friendly events and experiences in the Baltimore/Washington region. Membership is free. Find out more and get on our list as an early adopter member or event host at The Mixolo app is now on Apple iTunes and Google Play. Not in the Baltimore/Washington area? Get in the app and "hurry up and wait." Help us build our network of ready-to-go-out-solos so that we can attract hosts in your area.

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