Living alone has its upside of independence and simplicity – but it can have a downside: increased isolation. While there are a variety of reasons that someone may live alone, it is easy to experience loneliness, or “chronic loneliness,” which can increase the level of the stress hormone, cortisol. Even if you are not living alone, you may experience times when you feel lonely which can affect your cardiovascular health and immune system, as well as lead to depression and anxiety.1 If you are feeling a little on the lonely side, here are five ways to better connect:
- Phone a friend: Yes, texting can be faster and more efficient, but a phone conversation can allow you to open up and feel better connected with someone. Try picking up the phone next time instead of texting so that you can truly check in with a friend or loved one. You can also consider video conferencing as another alternative to texting for a more connected experience.
- Take a Social Media Break: Burying your head in your phone instead of stepping outside can increase feelings of loneliness. Relying on online connections prevents us from spending time with those that are right in front of us.
- Furry Friends: Caring for a pet can provide purpose as well as the companionship of a new pal. Walking the dog, for example, also helps you meet people in your neighborhood or at parks. Studies have found pets even add years to our lives.2
- Join a Group: Find a group that shares a common interest with you. From community groups to exercise groups and book clubs, there are ways to connect (even virtually) across almost any interest. Go to the meetings and get involved!
- Volunteer: Find a cause you are passionate about and join their efforts. Look online at volunteer opportunities in your area, check with your local schools, city hall, library, hospital, church, pet shelter, homeless shelter or soup kitchen.
It is easy to isolate yourself from others, and fall into a pattern of chronic loneliness. Make sure to follow these tips to stay better connected and boost your spirits, and consider contacting a mental health professional if feelings of loneliness linger.
1 “By the Numbers: Older Adults Living Alone.” American Psychological Association. May 2016. Volume 47, No. 5.
2 “How Can We Overcome Loneliness?” Medical News Today. January 2018.