There are many factors that can contribute to a feeling of isolation or loneliness when living with an illness or injury, or as we enter our senior years. To help combat these feelings, we've put together some simple activities and behaviours you can easily implement to feel more connected to the people in your community.
1. Reach Out to Family and Friends
This one might seem obvious, but often life gets in the way and we fall into habits where we lose touch with our family and friends. Consciously find time and take positive steps to regularly contact your loved ones. It's important to keep contact with this amazing support network we have spent years developing and nurturing, both for our own wellbeing, and for theirs.
2. Get Out of the House
Our homes are a wonderful source of comfort, but it's also important sometimes to leave our comfort zone and experience new things. Perhaps you have lived in the same neighbourhood for several years. How has it changed? Maybe you have recently moved to a new neighbourhood. What hidden gems are you yet to discover? Take advantage of concession public transport rates and explore your community. You'll even find lists of upcoming events in your local newspaper. Make it a priority to enjoy the many enjoyable treats your city has to offer.
3. Make Healthier Meal Choices
The food we eat can make a huge impact on the way we feel, and affect our energy levels. Making a commitment to enjoy healthy, freshly prepared foods is one of the best ways to improve your general outlook and wellbeing. Enjoying a wide variety of foods is another way to keep things fresh and exciting. Things to avoid are foods high in saturated fats (these foods will make you feel sluggish and lethargic) and foods high in sugar (they may give you an initial energy spike, which is quickly followed by a "sugar crash" leaving you even more tired than before). The perfect companion to nourishing our bodies with healthy food, is implementing an exercise routine. Keeping it simple is best. Start with something achievable like regular walks or swims at a local pool. As your fitness and energy levels grow you may choose to include activities like group fitness classes.
For more inspiration, learn more about meal planning and food preparation services available.
4. Take Up a Hobby
Is there something you've always wanted to try? What things bring you joy? If you don't already have one, consider taking up a hobby that focusses on the things you already enjoy. The good news is that many hobbies don't cost a lot and you can get started relatively inexpensively. There are a wealth of free resources in public libraries and even online video tutorials to help you get started. Once you have mastered the basics of your hobby, you may want to reach out to others in your community that share the same pastime and combine your efforts, making new friends in the process.
5. Volunteer Your Time
There are many worthy community organisations that are making massive differences to people lives, who could do much more and make an ever bigger impact if they had additional volunteer resources. Not only can volunteering give you a sense of purpose, it will help you back into a weekly routine, and you'll make valuable friendships along the way with your volunteer colleagues. Some organisations also offer additional benefits to their volunteer workforce in the form of discounts or gifts as a thank you for your time.
6. Adopt a Pet
We've long known that dogs (and by extension, many other domesticated pets) are a human's best friend, but they also offer us many physical and mental health benefits. Just having them around for companionship can lift our spirits and help us to relax. Being responsible for their daily needs can also remind us to make sure we also do these crucial activities for ourselves - have breakfast, go for a walk, and even grooming. Having a pet at home to guard your premises can also give you reassurance when you need to be away for several hours at a time.
We understand that a pet isn't for everyone, be it allergies, financial or time restraints - in this case, caring for and maintaining a garden can provide many of the same benefits.
7. Reflect on Your Achievements
In the course of your life you've had many amazing experiences, and achieved so much. Take a moment to reflect on all the incredible things you have done, friendships you have made, and successes you have accomplished. We often take these experiences for granted as they form so much of the core of who we are as a person, but without them you might have become a completely different person and gone down a different path. Cherish those moments, and let the wonderful feeling of nostalgia wash over you.
It's easy to stay within our comfort zone (it's called that for a reason!), taking a simple leap of faith and trying something new is the key to future and continued happiness. Surround yourself with the people you love (and who love you), find your new pastime, and forge new lasting and meaningful friendships in the process.