5 Tips to Fight Loneliness

Sometimes life can start to feel a little lonely. Maybe your adult children recently flew the nest, you’re missing family who live across the country or you’ve retired and find yourself at home a lot more. Whatever the reason, it’s common. According to a study by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, 43 percent of seniors feel lonely on a regular basis.

Loneliness isn’t just a mental issue—it can also affect your physical health in a variety of ways.

It can make it tough for you to handle normal daily tasks such as bathing and getting dressed, raise your risk for medical conditions like diabetes and reduce how well your immune system works.

So what can you do? Breaking out of your normal routine and doing things a little differently can help you feel more connected to others. Here are a few ways to do that:

  1. Be open to change. Doing things the way you’ve always done them can make it tough to establish new relationships or enhance the ones you already have. If you find that you’re a creature of habit, this is a critical step in eliminating or preventing loneliness. Start playing cards with your spouse instead of watching TV at night, try out a new coffee shop, walk your dog to a different park, or try a new workout class at the gym.
  2. Stay connected to loved ones. Social isolation, a situation where you don’t really interact that much with others, is something that can sneak up on you. One of the simplest ways to avoid loneliness is to actively work to maintain relationships with your loved ones. This can be done by giving them a weekly phone call, keeping a standing dinner or lunch date, or sending them a handwritten note just to let them know you’re thinking of them.
  3. Add to your social circle. Making new friends isn’t just for the young. In fact, new friends can encourage you to change unhealthy habits you’ve acquired over the years, offer a sense of belonging and increase your self-esteem. Participate in physical and social activities at your local community center, like the Northwest Activities Center in Detroit, the Baxter Community Center in Grand Rapids and Midland’s Greater Midland Community Center.
  4. Give back to your community. Volunteering at locations like your local soup kitchen or place of worship not only allows you to positively impact the world around you, but it connects you with a like-minded group of people who desire to have that same effect.
  5. Join a social club. Do you enjoy going out for a nice dinner? Trying new wine? Are you interested in learning something new? Join a group and connect to socialize. Search for local groups at com.

Photo Credit: skeeze 

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