While social distancing may have protected many of us from the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, the pain of social isolation put many more at a greater risk for other health conditions such as heart disease, stroke, anxiety and depression.
Staying connected to loved ones has become more challenging now than ever before especially for those who are elderly due to public health guidelines.
According to the National Academy of Sciences, “ Social isolation and loneliness are more common in older adults with depressive and anxiety disorders than in their non-depressed and non-anxious peers.”
It is imperative that we band together during this time and forge a path for reducing isolation moving forward.
Cigna reports that identified “Hispanic respondents (47.7%) and those who identify their race as “other” (47.2%) were loneliest, followed by Black/African American respondents (46.3%)4.”
We cannot afford to be unresponsive to the needs of underserved People of Color (POC) who are suffering from two very life threatening epidemics.
The difference between social isolation and loneliness which are used interchangeably is that social isolation is a lack of human connection whereas loneliness is a feeling that can occur even when you are surrounded by people.
Social isolation can lead to loneliness and negative feelings of self-worth and self-doubt.
Some of the most common signs of chronic loneliness involve an inability to connect with others on a more intimate level, having no close or "best" friends,
as well as an overwhelming feeling of isolation regardless of where you are and who's around.
There is no doubt that lack of social interactions increase health risks and loneliness even for those living in multi-person households.
However there are a few things you can do to help improve socialization:
Get Involved In Your Local Community
Find a cause you are passionate about supporting and lend a helping hand. Becoming a volunteer in your local community not only enables you to feel more connected to those around you but it can help keep you mentally stimulated and combat loneliness. Studies show that engaging in meaningful activities can even help you live a longer and fuller life. HOPEFUL Inc. offers fulfilling volunteer opportunities for those interested in helping the underserved Sacramento community. You can become a volunteer by visiting https://www.hopefulinc.org/mentalhealthawareness.
Phone A Friend
Designate a time and date when you can chat with a friend or family member on the phone over FaceTime or via Zoom. You can also email, text, and use social media apps to stay connected. Chances are they want to hear from you as much as you want to speak to them. If you are not tech savvy, find a local workshop or class in your community. When you put aside both of your busy schedules and make time for conversations that matter you will find yourself feeling less isolated and more confident in your relationships with others.
Find A Hobby
Exploring a hobby you enjoy doing is a great way to connect with people who understand you and make new friends. Hobbies such as art, music, reading, gardening, cooking, photography can reduce stress and loneliness to improve your overall well-being. Take some time to learn a new language, join a club for the hobbie that interest you the most or take an online class to find your passion. Sign up for and attend one of our events by checking out our event schedule here: https://www.eventbrite.com/o/hopeful-inc-20066379237
One of the best ways to alleviate anxiety, stress and feelings of loneliness is through fitness. There are a variety of exercise classes and fitness groups you can join at your local gym. When excercising are body releases endorphins and interacts with our receptors in the brain that can help to reduce our perception of pain. Put simply exercise is a great mood booster and having a workout partner to keep you accountable is great motivation to stay active and engaged with others.
Find A Support Group or Support Animal
It’s important to remember that you are not alone, there may be others going through similar experiences and hardships. When you find like minded individuals to connect with, make the most of it. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and share your story. Support groups appeal to a wide range of members Halfofus.com can help you begin addressing loneliness or any mental health issue you’re struggling with. Likewise MeetUp.com is another good resource to help you meet new people face-to-face. If these options do not work for you, it might be worth considering pet adoption. Having a furry companion may be just what you need to ease your pain and isolation. The ASPCA can help you locate the nearest animal shelter and pets who need a home.
Sometimes it can be beneficial to reach out to others first rather than waiting for someone else to strike up a conversation. You’ve already begun taking charge simply by reading this article.
Remember everyone is different and there is no one-size-fits all solution to loneliness. You may have to try out a few options listed above before you find the right one. But once you do your mental and physical well-being improvement will be worth the effort.
4Research Puts Spotlight on the Impact of Loneliness in the U.S. and Potential Root Caus- es. (2018, May 01). Retrieved from https://www.cigna.com/newsroom/news-releas-es/2018/ new-cigna-study-reveals-loneliness-at-epidem-ic-levels-in-america