Human beings are social creatures. We need relationships and emotional connectivity. Studies show us that the long term harm caused by loneliness is similar to smoking and obesity. 79% of Gen Z’ers, 71% of Millennials, and 50% of Baby Boomers frequently feel lonely. Proportionately, involvement in hobbies, sports leagues, social groups, and volunteer groups has fallen from 75% to 57% over the last decade.
Loneliness is a health hazard and its implications are significant. People who do not feel connected to others experience more colds and depression, develop heart disease at higher rates, and live shorter lives. The mind and body are so connected that when faced with illness, isolation, divorce or traumatic events lonely people are at greater risk of having an impact on their emotional and psychological health.
So, how do you cultivate your well-being if you are frequently lonely? Build relationships through social media platforms such as Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, Twitter, Facetime, WhatsApp, and LinkedIn. You could even try out some new ones, like Ikaria, Cocoon, Monaru, and Squad. Reach out to your grandchildren on Kids Messenger.
Here are some other ways to use social media to foster online community:
- Video Chat–
Social from afar is the next best thing to person-to person interaction. Bonds with loved ones are strengthened through facial cues, body language and other non-verbal forms of communication. If you can’t be with the ones you love, try having a digital dinner, a virtual happy hour with friends, or a remote book club meeting. Try using Google Hangouts, Zoom, Skype, or Messenger! Think outside the box!
- Online Kindness–
Show kindness on social media platforms. Send some kind words to someone who could really use it, in the form of a comment or a direct message.
- Online Groups–
Cultivate a niche community with people who share your passion. This could mean a favorite hobby, or perhaps exploring a new one!
- Nurture your current relationships or form new ones–
Get in touch with friends or family that you haven’t spoken to for a while, or reach out to somebody that you’d like to get to know.
Take this time to expand your horizons instead of feeling lonely and sad. Move outside of your comfort zone, get engaged in a project. Do whatever it takes to get you moving instead of focusing on your loneliness.
Create with intention– things that make you feel good inside. Use this list to help get you started:
- Cultivate a business idea. Do the research, figure out the plan, and launch that big idea.
- Make those summer travel plans that you’ve been putting off.
- Research places to relocate to or live when you retire.
- Read that pile of books that you’ve been meaning to get to.
- Write actual letters to your parents, children, grandchildren, relatives, or friends.
- Take up a hobby that you’ve been thinking about trying.
- Bake or cook something that you’ve been wanting to try but never had the time.
- My number one top recommendation is exercise. Get outside and walk, hike, bike, go to the park, or workout in your home. Release the dopamine in your brain and it will immediately make you feel better.
Only you can decide how to best remedy your feelings of loneliness. So reach out, figure out your plan, and initiate the action! You only get one life. Make it a happy one!