According to the AARP, one third of the people over the age of 45 regularly experience loneliness. A study done at Brigham Young University found that loneliness increases death at a rate on par with smoking and twice as much as obesity. Other recent studies have noted that loneliness can impact how our immune system functions, damage sleep quality, and put us at risk of heart disease.
So what can be done about loneliness? Here are 5 easy things you can do.
- Practice some self-kindness. Engage in some self-care. Don’t just sit and feel lonely. Give yourself a break. Actively do something for yourself that you enjoy. Make a list of all the things you really enjoy doing and then choose one and do it. Keep doing what’s on your list. Doing things, even alone, helps wit loneliness.
- Share present moment happenings. When something happens that you feel good about, share it with someone who will listen. It doesn’t have to be major happenings. By sharing these moments you create connection with others These can help you overcome loneliness. Any form of connectedness is helpful.
- Find ways to be around people. Think of activities you can do with others. They don’t have to be with close friends. For example, attend church services with others, engage in group sports, attend discussion groups at the local library, join a book club, choose a hobby that involves being with people. Get creative. Explore all the different ways that people meet and get involved with one.
- Do some volunteering. There are many schools, civic groups, and non-profit organizations that always need volunteers. Choose one that interests you and spend time volunteering. Make sure what you choose involves being with people.
- Having a pet can help. Research has found that pet owners have better social and communication skills and engage more in community activities Animals can be great conversation starters. If you don’t want to own a pet, consider volunteering at an animal shelter.