“While everyone around me is celebrating, I am expecting to be alone. Or even worse, surrounded by couples and strangers.” -Could This Be You?
Loneliness is something we rarely talk about, but is universal and even more pronounced as we age. According to a report by AARP, approximately 48 million U.S. aging adults are lonely. Many additional studies have shown that loneliness contributes to higher health risks such as depression, anxiety and stress related illnesses. Holidays tend to exasperate loneliness even with all the gatherings and parties. What are some simple tips to connect and curb seclusion?
1. Get out of the house. Isolation breeds loneliness. Turn off the television and start small by proposing to leave the house at least once a day. Whether it is a short walk or a trip to the store, you will find ample opportunity for stimulation and even conversation.
2. Meet your neighbors. According to one study, 58% of Americans never have gatherings with their neighbors. Knowing your neighbor’s name is a good start, but finding reasons to gather is one of the best ways to combat loneliness.
3. Attend church. Worshipers have significant health benefits as well as the opportunity to make friends, join groups and become active in serving.
4. Volunteer. One of the best ways to curb loneliness is to be of service to others. The blessing comes back around as you serve others and in turn have an important sense of value and contribution to your community.
5. Attend a class. There exist many opportunities within your community to join a class or to take a workshop. Even on a fixed income Seattle Lifelong Recreation offers affordable day trips, classes and workshops for those who are 55 plus at community centers all around the Northwest. New friends await!
6. Cultivate compassion. Take note when those around you are experiencing loss or health challenges. Send a note, drop by with flowers, bring by cookies or make an effort to encourage them. Taking initiative with compassion during difficult circumstances will bring joy to both of your hearts.
7. Make Social Media Significant. Too many people use social media like television, watching the lives of others from afar which can increase the feeling of loneliness and being left out. Take social media to another level. Encourage online dialogue by commenting and initiating a face to face meet up whenever you can.
8. Start a coffee klatch. The term “coffee klatch” comes from the German word, “kaffeeklatsch,” which refers to a group of friends getting together over a cup of coffee, usually at someone’s house. Keep it open and even limit the visiting time or the goodies potluck style. By opening your home to others, you will also open up opportunities to get to know new friends and curb the loneliness of others.
Beating loneliness takes courage and initiative. When we bravely step out to connect, we can overcome the initial fear of being rejected and more often than not, end up finding others who are experiencing the same situation.
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