Author: Lindsay Denton
Unfortunately, loneliness has proven to be a worrisome trend worldwide, affecting all individuals, regardless of their gender, education, income, or age, wreaking havoc on their physical, mental, and cognitive health. Still, some studies show that the elderly population can be particularly vulnerable to frequent feelings of loneliness and social isolation. But you don’t have to let these feelings consume you. There are ways older adults can overcome loneliness, but the journey is bound to start with an initiative.
Start with introspection
While there’s a wide range of developing interventions, it’s important to note that a one-size-fits-all approach is unlikely to be effective because different people may feel lonely for various reasons or a combination of several. Start to explore what may be the root of your loneliness through reflection. Only after recognizing and addressing the underlying cause and negative thoughts can the issue be approached adequately through advocacy and evidence-based interventions.
Try therapeutic journaling
One way of understanding what underlies your feeling of loneliness is to take a deep dive into your internal thoughts and experiences. Through therapeutic journaling, you’ll be able to keep negative emotions from building up inside, gain a better understanding of your feelings (and how to address them), as well as an entirely new perspective, and maybe even discover something new about yourself.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy
If you find that you need professional support, a psychological treatment called Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) has been demonstrated to be effective for helping an individual focus inward, recognize and address his or her negative thoughts that underly loneliness.
Discover your best Self
Sometimes, the underlying issue preventing an individual to properly connect with others is psychological, such as feelings of low self-worth, poor self-esteem, lack of confidence. Older adults can start to overcome loneliness with the help of activities and habits that make them feel good about themselves. These can help you learn about yourself as an individual, nourish your spiritual, mental, and physical health, and discover the version of yourself you can be proud of.
Keep your planner updated
Consider making a list of all things you enjoy doing or participating in, and write them down in your planner. Planning many entertaining and stimulating activities a weak ahead means giving yourself something to look forward to. For instance, if there’s a place you’ve always wanted to visit but never got round to do it, put it on your list.
If you can, try to keep yourself physically active; even a daily walk in the park can boost your endorphin levels, improve your mood and your overall health. Second, making healthy diet decisions will help you feel more positive, vibrant, and energetic. The kind of lifestyle filled with choices that help to nourish your wellbeing, diminish that prevailing feeling of being defeated, pave your path towards building lasting self-esteem, as well as help you meet other people who share goals similar to yours.
Give solo yoga therapy a chance
Yoga and meditation are well known for their countless physical and mental health benefits and are frequently even used in treating mental health issues. Its numerous positive impacts sneak up on your daily routines, envelop your mind with positivity, and your body with energy. Mindfulness offers lonely yogis a way to accept and observe their feelings in a non-judgmental fashion, build resilience towards negative feelings, such as self-pity, and grow their confidence instead. On top of it all, numerous styles and asanas show that there are no age restrictions.
Be more appreciative
Reminiscing of the good old days doesn’t have to fill you with melancholy and keep you wondering if there’s anything you should have done differently. Instead, practice acceptance and find a way to be grateful. Acknowledging and respecting so many great things you’ve done or been through, and thinking of your beautiful family, and inspiring people you’ve met is a way of loving yourself.
A robust body of research shows that leisure activities can be an imperative tool in overcoming loneliness later in life. Getting in touch with your creative side and perfecting a craft can keep you forward-thinking, motivated, and proud of yourself.
Tend to your network
Humans are social creatures to whom companionship is extremely important. Still, if you think that you’re not yet entirely comfortable with complete reintegration with your community, think about starting small. And when we say small, we think fluffy, four-legged small. Animals also require interaction and affection, and it so happens that adopting a pet from a shelter can help you chase the blues away.
Connect with your loved ones
Getting the whole fam together as often as you can is one of the most natural ways one can combat loneliness because it creates a space for open communication and strong emotional support and improves your overall health. Whenever you’re feeling blue, confiding in your loved ones, or simply being physically present with them is one of the healthiest outlets and coping mechanisms. Therefore, don’t hesitate to reach out to them. If they live in the same town as you, your caregiver can accompany you for a visit or arrange transportation for you to visit them.
Learn to love technology
Naturally, if you had to choose between face-t0-face communication and virtual interaction, you’d always go with meeting in person. However, when your friends or relatives live far away, or you’re homebound, virtual interaction is the next best thing. You can have a chat over the phone, share photos, e-mails, or see them with video chats via a personal computer or a tablet. Technology might feel a bit daunting for seniors; however, there are so many user-friendly apps to choose from, like Skype, Facebook, Viber, or FaceTime, that will make staying in touch with your family easy. Moreover, creating a social media account can also help you make new friends or renew relationships with some old ones.
Social group membership
Another way that older adults can overcome loneliness, as research has found, is by engaging in community and social groups. Social group membership has been shown to produce positive mental health effects, as well as reduce feelings of loneliness.
Think about participating in weekly choir sessions, joining book clubs, church groups, or community activities such as walking or singing group, Saturday bingo, bridge, or quiz nights. Besides, as you can tell, the activities we’ve mentioned beforehand (yoga, arts and crafts, physical activity) is also something you can do in groups. Practical interventions such as these provide lots of opportunities to meet new, like-minded people. But, more importantly, they can help retirees to maintain their sense of belonging and sense of purpose by assisting them to connect to communities and groups that are meaningful to them.
Join a cohousing community
If you’re feeling lonely and isolated, you may want to consider moving into a cohousing community. And while even the thought of the whole process of moving may feel intimidating, think about the countless benefits these kinds of living arrangements provide. Cohousing is becoming increasingly popular among young and elderly around the world because it espouses true neighborliness, interconnected community, and an antidote for loneliness. Moreover, if you require professional assistance during the relocation process, now may be the perfect timing to find help, as spring weather can allow for a more stress-free moving day.
Volunteer in your community
Another way for older adults can overcome loneliness is by volunteering their time, skills, and experience. This is a fantastic way to remind yourself that you still have a great deal to offer. By helping a good cause, you will feel needed, appreciated, and confident, gain opportunities to meet new people, as well as renew your sense of purpose and meaning, and still give back to the community.
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