As the days get shorter and we see our neighbors a little bit less, it’s important to stay on top of situations that can lead to feelings of isolation, depression or loneliness. The team at Parkview Behavioral Health has some great tips for staying involved, feeling accepted and beating the seasonal blues until the sunny days come back around.
Loneliness is a universal emotion that often occurs during significant life transitions. It’s so important to recognize when you or a loved one has these feelings because they so often lead to poor health, including high blood pressure and an increased risk of depression, heart attack and stroke. Simply having or providing company is not enough. People need to feel connected to, and valued by, close family and friends.
Here are some healthy strategies to help you or your loved one overcome loneliness:
Make an effort to meet new people
Meeting new people can be adventurous, exciting and certainly worthwhile. Organize a neighborhood get-together or make new friends at your place of worship, community seniors club, travel club or civic organizations. You can learn something new or discover new opportunities by talking to, and interacting with, others. Making new connections can also lead to lasting friendships. Remember, these bonds can take time to develop, so be patient and enjoy the experience of getting to know someone new.
Volunteer your time
Volunteers positively impact the health and well-being of the community. Serve as a tutor or mentor to a young student, collect tickets at performing arts events or help your local animal shelter care for four-legged friends. However you choose to give back, volunteering is a great way to help and make new friends.
Parkview is always looking for new volunteers. Learn more about volunteer opportunities at Parkview Health.
Learn a new hobby or reconnect with past interests
Trying your hand at a new hobby can stimulate your mind and help keep you motivated. Maybe you have let go of activities you loved earlier in life and it’s time to take them up again. Many hobbies can be shared with others, even when you have mobility challenges. For example, you can join a book club and share your thoughts on the latest best-selling novel with other avid readers. You could also take scrapbooking classes at your local craft store.
Adopt a pet
Caring for a pet can be a great healing opportunity for someone who feels lonely. Pets love unconditionally and provide loyalty and friendship. Caring for a pet can renew meaning and purpose in your life, and research shows the uplifting influence of interacting with pets can improve your physical and mental health.
If you’re not ready to care for a pet but love animals, you could volunteer at HOPE for Animals, a local low-cost spay/neuter and wellness clinic.
Take advantage of home visitation services
Meeting people can be particularly difficult if you're homebound. Call Aging & In-home Services of Northeast Indiana the Allen County Council on Aging or a place of worship to inquire about home visitation services.
Know when it’s more
Loneliness can lead to depression, which is a condition generally accompanied by feelings of hopelessness, inadequacy, helplessness, changes in appetite and sadness. Reach out if you think you or your loved one is experiencing signs of depression. Talking with a friend, family member, worship leader, counselor or healthcare provider can help with treatment, both physically and emotionally. If you’re employed, your company may provide an employee assistance program (EAP). EAP counselors can help you with a variety of social and emotional difficulties.
Parkview Behavioral Health can also help in time of need if you or your loved one is seriously depressed. Call the Help Line at (260) 373-7500 or (800) 284-8439 anytime, 24 hours a day. Our dedicated assessment specialists can answer your questions, provide recommendations and offer referrals to other agencies where you can receive help or help others.