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Mary's Moments Blog Post

LONELINESS


Loneliness (Forest Bench) | Mary's Moments Blog Post

Are you one of the millions dealing with lonlieness? Or perhaps like me you have loved ones experiencing the telltale signs of this symptom.


For many reasons, isolation has become a way of life for many people and it’s taking a toll on their well-being.


Loneliness is known to lead to physical and mental health issues:


  • Heart disease

  • High blood pressure

  • Diabetes

  • Depression

  • Anxiety

  • Dementia


We must prioritize creating and growing our social connections.


If you’re looking for ways to stop feeling lonely, there are options:


1. Give back.

Many studies have shown significant health benefits associated with giving back to others. First, helping out allows you to get out of your own head, putting the focus outside of yourself. Second, it feels good to benefit the lives of others by lending a hand. Third, it helps you meet other well-meaning people.


Find a local charity or organization that fits with your interests. Libraries, hospitals, schools, and churches often have volunteer opportunities. If you want something less formal, simply find a way to help your neighbors.


You can also join ongoing community service efforts or create your own, such as organizing a local cleanup. Helping out makes you feel good in the moment and in the long term.


I have long been involved in charitable work in one form or another; however, it can be as simple as “pay it forward”. I was at a drive thru the other day only to get to the window and learn the person in front of me had paid for my coffee.


A small gesture though not expensive had a big impact. For a moment I was forced to stop my wandering thoughts of the day and say thank you to this car – this person I didn’t know and could no longer see as they had already driven off.


To follow thru on a good feeling thought with action is a win-win.


2. Become a joiner.

Look around your area to find ways you can interact with others. Join a church a temple, or a local organization or outreach program. Enroll in a class, learn a new hobby, or visit the farmer’s market. Or you might want to get involved politically, attending town halls or government meetings.


Some mental health organizations even offer in-person support groups for attendees to share their feelings without judgment. And, if the group you want to join doesn’t exist, start one! You can create a positive chain reaction and foster connections in your community by taking the initiative.


I have recently become more involved in the special needs community. Since I have a special needs child, I saw the need for a break for the parents (in most cases, moms) of this neuro-diverse community. Planned a successful evening out for them. Hoping to make this a regular event. There are many options for joining and getting involved.


3. Start moving.

Exercise is always a great idea to improve mental health, but in certain cases, it can give you a burst of social activity, too. Join a local gym and try out a variety of group classes.


You’ll not only get to challenge yourself physically through new exercise routines, but you will likely meet regulars, that might even be able to pass along some helpful fitness tips.

Or check into signing up for adult sports teams, the local swimming pool, free yoga classes in the park—whatever your area offers.


This one I have personally faltered on. I actively participated in aquasize at the local community centre twice a week and brisk walks with my neighbour 2-3x a week pre-COVID. Though there are enough excuses since as to why I don’t have time, I cannot afford to not make the time now. Especially for a set walking routine – it is indisputably the single best exercise one can do.


4. Tap into online resources.

Moving so much of our lives online has partly created the loneliness problem. But we can also use online resources as a way to make and maintain connections. This would be especially helpful for those who can’t easily leave their homes.


Take advantage of free online classes where you can to meet people with similar interests. Connect to groups or family members through social media. But its important to actually engage not just scroll through. Join online support groups or discussion boards. Or play games that have built active online communities you can join. There are many ways to get involved virtually.


5. Spend time in nature.

While loneliness can have negative effects, solitude can be restorative. One way you can feel more connected, even when you’re alone, is by engaging with nature. Nature is known to help combat stress and has other physical benefits such as lowering blood pressure and stress hormone levels, calming the nervous system, boosting the immune system, improving self-esteem and mood, and reducing anxiety. Just a couple of hours per week can result in real health benefits.


6. Reconnect with friends and family.

Many of us fall out of touch with old friends and family members over the years. We are all busy and juggling full schedules, but taking the time for personal connection is a task that should claim priority in everyone’s lives.


Consider it a must-have for your health, just like brushing your teeth or exercising. Schedule a check-in call each week, write a card or letter, or chat via social media. Ask questions, share photos, and reminisce over old memories. You’ll feel more connected to other people, and even to your own past


7. Be present.

When you do spend time with people—whether on the phone, online, or in person—be sure that you are fully engaged. Multitasking is a not so good habit that many of us have. It’s the one thing that the more we do it, the worse we get.


Put away your mobile devices and pause your daily to-dos while you are spending time with someone you care about. Stay open to and aware of the small moments of happiness in your interactions. You’ll get more out of the experience, and its positive effects will reverberate more deeply in your life.


Know this takes constant effort and practise. Most of us do get caught up in the busyness of life and our thoughts often wander. Even the most seasoned trained professionals in the industry need to continually practise these techniques but as with most things…… practise begets progress.


WHEN TO SEEK HELP FOR LONELINESS


Loneliness has negative effects on physical and mental health, and some of them are serious. If loneliness is interfering with your daily functioning, or leading to larger issues such as depression, seek help from a mental health professional. Effective November 30, 2023 people in crisis will be able to dial 988 anywhere in Canada to be connected with trained responders 24 hours a day by phone or text message.


We may all be facing some form of a loneliness epidemic, but we don’t have to do it alone. With these tips, you can stop feeling so isolated and start feeling more connected to others. When you feel bonded to friends and family, you will also feel happier and healthier.


This content is for informational purposes only. It is not meant to substitute for medical or healthcare advice from a physician, nor is it intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Consult your healthcare provider before beginning a new health regimen.




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