Strategies To Combat Loneliness
Fortunately, you are not doomed to live a life of loneliness. Here are seven powerful strategies that can help you become more connected with those around you. You don’t need to implement all seven. However, the more you put into practice, the better the likelihood that you will expand your social connections.
1. Step out of your comfort zone to meet like-minded people. If you’re a gardening enthusiast, join a local gardening club. If you want to make a difference in your community, why not join a service organization? Look for clubs and organizations in your city or town that interest you. Check online, in the old-fashioned Yellow Pages, in the newspaper, or call your local chamber of commerce.
2. Get a pet. Companion animals are a great tool for making friends. If you’re having trouble connecting with people in your neighborhood, consider adopting a likeable dog from the local shelter. In the context of walking your dog, going to a dog park, or even running errands with your pet, you’ll likely be surprised how much social interaction is created.
3. Seek out those lonelier than yourself. If you don’t feel very connected in your workplace, look for someone else who seems to be a loner. If that individual rejects your attempt at friendship, try to develop relationships in a setting where your attempts are more likely to be accepted. As already mentioned, extended care facilities have many lonely people and are easy to find. Why not contact a local nursing home and see if the administration would allow you to share something to brighten someone’s day? Your initial visit might involve giving away a potted plant or some of those already-read books on your bookshelf.
4. Volunteer. Many workplaces don’t encourage the development of close social ties. Today’s neighborhoods and apartments often seem engineered to insulate and isolate rather than to create connectedness. However, stepping into a volunteer position often provides an opportunity to engage with other staff (and often those you serve) in more meaningful ways. Furthermore, medical research shows that volunteerism itself is health enhancing.
5. Reconnect with family. Make family time a priority—even if there are tensions in your relationships. Although emotionally difficult, one of the most powerful socially-connecting practices is making wrongs right and fixing broken relationships. If you’ve isolated yourself from a family member who wounded you, why not lovingly confront him or her and communicate your willingness to forgive?
On the other hand, if you have good relations with children or grandchildren, plan to strengthen those ties. Many of today’s activities don’t maximize social interaction. Entertainment-based family time tends to be big on the entertainment and small on the family.
6. Connect on a vertical level. Throughout history some of the world’s most lasting friendships were founded on a common spiritual foundation. Regardless of your spiritual roots, why not consider a fresh reading of the Bible? Arguably no single book has promoted social connectedness in North America more than the Bible. A great place to start is with the New Testament’s four gospels. Many scholars believe that the Bible was written not only to connect you with the Divine, but also with other people.