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Habits That Keep Loneliness At Bay As We Age

| Updated: April 1, 2024 11:46

We can adopt certain habits as we age like enjoying solitude and ensuring self-care

There is a crucial difference between being alone and being lonely. We can be alone and enjoy solitude. On the other hand, we can feel lonely in that situation. Which path we choose depends on our temperament and attitude. But we can change both. And, we should if it is vital for our happiness.    

As we get older there are several reasons we may feel lonely. Post-retirement blues is not just about an absence of activity but also about lack of social interaction. Another factor, grown children get busy and may live far away. Old friends may also move to other cities and extended family may not be accessible.  

Aging is a unique experience for each of us. That’s why we have to find our own solutions. Solutions that keep us pleasantly engaged and bring us happiness. However, as seniors, we can ward off loneliness by adopting the following habits: 

Enjoying our own company: People who love themselves and their own company do not fear aging, loneliness or isolation. We can opt for activities like reading, listening to music, walking, gardening and cooking, which we can do by ourselves.  

Instead of seeing solitude as an enemy, we must see it as an opportunity for personal growth,  introspection and self-discovery. So, it’s all about how we perceive and spend our time alone.

Structuring the day: Having a regular routine brings consistency and comfort. Research has shown that a routine can make seniors feel more secure and less lonely. Whether it is a morning walk, a favourite television show, or chatting with a friend – these are elements of a routine.  

Connecting socially: Today with technology, it is not even necessary to meet in person to stay socially connected. Video calls are good to nurture relationships. And, when we are connected with friends and relatives it reduces feelings of loneliness. 

We could make the effort to text a friend, call a family member, or even email an old acquaintance. These habits remind us that we’re not alone.

Learning something new: Whether it is taking up a new hobby or researching a topic that interests us, learning is a sure fire way to avoid feeling lonely. Engaging in cognitive activities like learning, stimulate the brain and improve mental health.

Staying physically active: We do slow down physically as we age. But we can still keep fit with regular exercise that suits us. Exercise increases chemicals called endorphins which boost mood and combat the sadness which loneliness brings. Getting out of the house to do errands gives us the opportunity to meet people and a sense that we belong to the community.    

Doing yoga or meditation: Mindful meditation, deep breathing or yoga can help us cultivate a strong connection with ourselves which will reduce any feeling of loneliness. Also, being mindful or present and fully absorbed with whatever we are doing, makes us more aware of our thoughts and feelings. This awareness will help us deal with negative emotions. 

Helping someone: Whether it is accompanying a neighbour to the doctor or volunteering at a social service organisation, helping others is a great way of feeling needed and useful. It gives a meaning and purpose to our lives which keeps loneliness away. Kindness doesn’t only beget kindness, it is also a buffer against feelings of loneliness. 

Ensuring self-care: Ensuring that we prioritise our physical, mental and emotional well-being is arming us against loneliness. Eating right, exercising, getting enough sleep and seeking medical support when required are all part of self-care. Why self-care is important is that it makes us focus on ourselves rather than on externalities. 

Also Read: How Kindness Can Improve Mental Health

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