Loneliness is a weird thing: you can feel lonely when you don’t have anyone to talk to, but you can also feel alone when people surround you, even family and friends.
But one thing about loneliness that is pretty straightforward is that it can have negative health effects. It can boost the risk for coronary artery disease, stroke, depression, high blood pressure, declining thinking skills, and trouble performing common daily tasks.
The good thing is that if you’re lonely, you can ease it. You can bring connections, meaning, and happiness to your life by working on expanding your social networks.
That said, not all loneliness can be solved by seeking out people. Loneliness and isolation that occurs despite relationships may require talk therapy and a process or journey that looks inwards.
If your loneliness is the result of a lack of relationships, a more outward approach is sure to help. This journey can help you build new friends and acquaintances.
Making friends can be challenging with age because people are typically established in their social groups and not as available as they may have otherwise been earlier in life. You’ll have to work a little harder, but the challenge is likely to be rewarding.
Seek like-minded people: Being around people who share your interests can give you a head start because you’ve already got something in common. Consider your interests: are you a foodie, history lover, or gardener? What about your heritage or a particular cause?
Maybe you even want to learn something new. Regardless, search for in-person clubs, meetup groups, volunteer opportunities, or classes that line up with those interests.
Create opportunities: If you don’t like the idea of joining someone else’s group, start your own. You can host gatherings at your place or elsewhere. All you’ll need is at least three people.
Some ideas to get together for meetups include:
• Book or movie clubs
• Dinner clubs
• Game/trivia nights
• Hikes/beach/nature walks
• Yoga museum visits
You get the picture. And you don’t have to invite dear friends only; they can just be people you want to get to know a little better, like neighbors or acquaintances.
Brush up on social skills: Working on your social graces can help build deeper connections. Things like enthusiasm, being engaged, asking follow-up questions, and listening can help you build relationships.