6 tips to feel less isolated
Many people think of our world as hyperconnected. There’s stimulus coming from everywhere: social media, TV, email, you name it. But whether you’re busy or have a lot of time on your hands, it’s very common to feel socially isolated. And that can lead to higher rates of chronic illness and depression.
The National Institute on Aging has reported that adults who are lonely or socially isolated are less healthy and have longer hospital stays. They’re also readmitted to the hospital more often, and more likely to die earlier than those with meaningful and supportive social connections.
Humans are social animals and, according to researchers, need contact with others to thrive and survive. When we lack human contact, that can lead to negative mental effects like anxiety or depression, which can in turn cause physical symptoms like weight loss or gain, increased blood pressure, sleep disorders, headaches and digestive issues.
Who’s at risk?
According to the National Institute on Aging, those who may be at increased risk for feeling socially isolated include people who:
- Live alone or can’t leave home
- Live in isolated communities such as rural, unsafe or hard-to-reach areas
- Have had a major loss or life change, such as the death of a spouse or partner, or retirement
- Struggle with money
- Are caregivers
- Have psychological or cognitive challenges, or depression
- Have trouble hearing
- Have limited social support
- Have language barriers
- Experience discrimination where they live
- Are not meaningfully engaged in activities, or feel a lack of purpose
Tips to help stay connected
Here are some tips and ideas to help combat social isolation and stay connected:
- Keep reaching out to friends and acquaintances, even if it’s just a text, email or quick phone call. If you are able, you can also consider a video chat.
- Practice mindfulness — stretching, breathing exercises, meditation and visualizing times when you felt content can help bring about a sense of peace.
- Take care of something, whether it’s a houseplant, a goldfish or a pet, but only if you are able to care for them.
- Volunteer with a local organization that’s doing something you think is important.
- Take a walk around the block or in a nearby park — just breathing some fresh air can do wonders to uplift your spirit.
- Keep a regular schedule — routines can help give you more of a sense of control.
If after trying a number of these different tactics, you or someone close to you is still experiencing deep feelings of loneliness and isolation, you should reach out for professional help. And remember that you’re not alone in feeling the way you do.
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If you have any questions, call myBLUEPRINT4HEALTH at 1-800-996-2057 or visit myblueprint4health.com to explore your benefits.
National Institute on Aging. Loneliness and social isolation — tips for staying connected. Accessed April 13, 2022.
Rally Health. What doctors wish you knew about loneliness. Accessed April 13, 2022.