Farewell to Loneliness, Hello to Well-Being!

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Many people, who are planning retirement or have entered this life phase, worry about potential loneliness. What will their social structure look like in the days following work? Will it be full and exciting or will they be faced with fewer contacts and dwindling social activities? Some folks have a knack for maintaining friends and are continually adding to their list of friends. Others, however, find themselves adrift with too much time alone. 
Retirement lifestyles require forethought and careful planning to avoid these natural pit-falls. One is the ever changing fabric of our social circles. New retirees are faced with the absence of the previously held social structure at work. On the job they are in touch with people all day on various levels. This side benefit of work must be replaced with other social opportunities once they retire. On the home-front, it is likely that the "old gang" will begin to change as well. Some friends might increase their travel plans or as "snow-birds" spend part of the year in a warmer climate, resulting in a temporary void. Other friends may move away permanently to retirement communities or to areas closer to their family. The result for those who remain behind, is dealing with declining contacts and social activities.
Gerontologists agree that healthy aging includes interacting with others on a consistent basis. Having friends not only creates social well being, it also adds to our mental and physical health. Recently researchers from Rush University Medical Center reported, "Older people who don't socialize much might be increasing their risk for declining motor function and overall health," Not only does social contact keep our minds fresh and creating new memories, it also keeps us fit and active. 
Our goal is to identify a suitable formula for the balance between being busy and carving out just enough wanted solitude! Think about your preferences and assess if staying socially engaged is daunting for you. If so, here are five tips to help you ward off loneliness and maintain your well being!

  1. Keep busy! Find things that engage your interest, as well as get you connected in the community. Join an interest group or religious organization, rekindle a hobby, commit to political grassroots activities, volunteer, and stay in touch with your family, friends and neighbors.
  2. Do something for someone else. Nothing will bring you in connection with others as fast as doing something for another person. The rewards generated will be tenfold. Identify something that you love doing and then find a way to turn that into a gift of time. For example, make dinner and share it with a friend or family member, visit someone in the hospital who otherwise would have no visitors, offer to watch a neighbor's child so they can have a night out, or mentor a young adult in your area of expertise.
  3. Avoid distractions that contribute to your loneliness. Limit your solitary activities. Without strong convictions, loneliness can creep up on you. Notice if you watch too much TV, sleep longer than you need, isolate yourself with computers or books, or turn to alcohol or drugs to cope. Replace these activities with connections to others.
  4. Travel or take day trips to new places. Vary your activity in search of new experiences and seek opportunities to make new friends. Try new points of interest or attend lectures to stimulate your mind. 
  5. Make a commitment to be happy and fulfilled. Think about how you might be enabling your loneliness with negative thoughts and actions. That kind of attitude dampens any potential prospects. Savor the good things in life and be grateful for what you have. 

Pick one of the above suggestions and give it a try today! Implement these ideas or create ones of your own to keep your calendar sufficiently full for your tastes. You can even recruit a friend to join you on the first outing or two to make things more fun and keep you inspired.

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Barbara Katz has 1 articles online

For over 20 years, Barbara Katz has been committed to helping individuals (particularly women) and couples create the lives they want and deserve - initially as a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist and now as a Certified Retirement Coach. In this new venture she is able to bring her extensive experience, intuition and education to provide her clients with the coaching and planning that will help them achieve a new level of fulfillment and purposeful living as they enter their "golden years." For more information on how to improve and maximize your retirement lifestyle go to http://www.retirementpotential.com

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Farewell to Loneliness, Hello to Well-Being!

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This article was published on 2010/03/31