With the holidays in full swing, we need to remember that this can be very tough and challenging time for many. We all feel lonely sometimes but what about people who feel loneliness a big percentage of the time? Loneliness is the number one factor for depression outside of mental illness. 1 out of 10 people age 65 and older say they feel lonely often. Half of older people consider TV to be their main form of company. Seniors aren’t the only ones who feel lonely. Any change or transition can cause loneliness. The working mom who decides to become a stay at home mom; anyone who has moved to a new location, divorce, loss of a loved one, etc. Anyone can feel chronic loneliness but the good news is there are ways to combat loneliness and bring happiness back into your life.
1. Connect better with others by being an active listener. If we put our attention completely on someone else we connect in a meaningful way. When we become an active listener, the other person knows we care and that they are being heard.
2. Pay it forward – do something for someone else whether it’s a random act of kindness, being a volunteer, etc. When we do something nice for others we also reap the benefits of a boost of happiness that can last 24-72 hours.
3. Be open and vulnerable- to have close relationships we need to let people in.
4. Reach out to others – call up your friends and family and make the plans. Set up activities. Be the planner.
5. Avoid feeling sorry for yourself and be proactive – enjoy your time alone. Do something you love, start the hobby or class you always wanted to.
6. Find solitude in silence by meditating, prayer, gratitude or sitting in nature. Meditation that is done for 8 weeks or longer is linked with decreased loneliness.
7. Try something new – step outside your comfort zone! Add variety into your life. We can get in a rut and feel depressed. So change it up a little bit even taking a different route to work can give us a boost of happiness.
8. Social media – connect on-line through social media, Skype or chat groups. You can also meet new people through social media or meetups just to name a few. If you’re not that comfortable with computers/social media this could be your chance to learn something new and take a class!
9. Become a pet owner- pets lower blood pressure, they have a calming effect and makes you feel needed plus they are so cute and lovable.
10. Reach out to existing relationships and strengthen the bond.
11. Loneliness is contagious- it makes people negative and angry which causes other people to not want to be around them. So think twice when feeling negative. Also, find positive people to socialize with. Happy moods are contagious too!
12. Avoid escapes such as sleeping too much, watching too much TV, etc it can lead to loneliness/isolation and depression.
This holiday season reach out to those around you. Make the effort to check on family, friends, neighbors, etc.