While the COVID-19 pandemic didn’t invent the concept of loneliness, it can certainly feel that way. It’s been more than a year since we’ve been able to see our friends and families with the cadence that we’re used to, and we’re probably all experiencing greater levels of loneliness.
You may be thinking, “How can I be lonely? I’ve been living in close quarters with people this past year and would like some space!” Loneliness isn’t defined by whether or not you are surrounded by people. Instead, loneliness means you’re not having meaningful connections. Whether you’re living alone, with family, or with friends, loneliness can impact us all.
Many people were feeling lonely long before the pandemic, especially older adults. For years, doctors have been observing how widespread loneliness is having a negative impact on our health.
For adults 50 years and older, research has found that loneliness can increase the risk of premature death, even more so than other risky behaviors like smoking or physical inactivity, as the Centers for Disease Control reports. It can lead to depression or dementia, an increased risk for heart disease or stroke.
That makes it all the more important for our health to maintain quality relationships with the people we love. The great news is, if you’re working to connect with friends and family in meaningful ways, you’re also helping improve their long term health at the same time!
Our days are filled with work and family and trying to take care of ourselves. Making time for friendship should be treated with just as much importance as daily exercise or eating well.
Here are a few ways to help maintain friendships and stave off loneliness, even during a pandemic.
Our lives get so busy we can simply forget to call our friends. Make use of one of the many calendar apps that can schedule repeating events. Create an appointment once a month to check in with your friend, even if it’s just for a short phone call to ask how they’re doing.
It’s not just for the 18th century. Letter writing can help us slow down and thoughtfully process the events in our lives. This can build meaningful connections with your friends, who will likely enjoy receiving something in the mail that isn’t a bill.
Activities for being together or apart
The pandemic won’t rage on forever, but in the meantime, plan an activity that you enjoy doing with your friends, and give it a virtual spin. Do you both enjoy hiking? Plan a hike that you can each do in your own neighborhood and then make a hike report to share your adventures afterward. You could also make the same meal together over video chat (find a safe place to prop your camera phone or computer!). For bookworms, find a novel and read it together, checking in every week or so to talk about your progress.
At Sea Mountain Insurance, we’re here to support you on your health and wellness journey. Contact one of our health insurance specialists to learn more about health and life insurance.