Loneliness is a negative feeling that isolates us from our outer world. To overcome loneliness feeling we want to get new friends to make interaction and share our personal feeling, thinking, interest etc. Often when we think of social interaction we automatically think of our family members or our work colleagues. And yet having diverse social networks that are independent of work and family is essential for emotional, physical and relationship well-being. Here’s why:
For improving your mood:
On an emotional level, healthy friendships promote a positive mood and can help to reduce symptoms of depression. Being around others who share your interests promotes a sense of belonging. Even an activity as simple as having a cup of coffee regularly in the same cafe can enhance your sense of engagement and improve your mood.
Healthy friendships can enhance your resilience to stress by assisting your brain to essentially turn off the protective mechanisms in your body that respond to stress, reducing harmful exposure to prolonged glucocorticoids, or stress hormones.
Physically, social relationships are said to increase longevity, promote cognitive functioning, and enhance your immune system functioning, again probably because enjoying the company of others assists you to down-regulate your stress system. Regular chats, especially the friendly debate that sometimes erupts in conversation, actually helps your neural networks (the bulk of your brain) to grow!
In terms of relationship health, having an extended network of friends means that you are less likely to rely on your partner to meet all of your needs. You will also be a far more interesting person to be around if you are out and about, getting involved in enjoyable activities that you can then share with your partner when you reconnect.
So here is my list of place to meet new people and extend your friendship group to overcome loneliness:
This is a website that was started in New York around 2001 as a response to the collapse of community in America. This site basically works for people who always have loneliness. Since that time the group has taken off worldwide and we now have our own version here in Australia. Meet up provides you with an online index to every possible interest group in your local region, from people who love to beach walk, to scuba divers, to people who are carrying out their bucket list! If you don’t find a group that tickles your fancy it’s a simple process to begin your own meetup.
Your local Citizens Advice Bureau.
Here anyone can get a wealth of information, both in terms of legal advice and in relation to services available in your local community. In the Southern region of Queensland, we are fortunate to have a wide array of local community groups, if you know where to look. The Citizens Advice Bureau prints a Gold Coast Community Guide that provides the contact details for every type of community group you could imagine, from bird lovers through dancing groups. This booklet is available online www.advicebureau.org.au or at your local library.
Your local council.
Also in the Southern Queensland region, we are fortunate to have a climate that allows us to be outdoors most of the day. Check out the council’s Active and Healthy Program, a guide detailing over 170 free or low-cost activities from yoga and pilates through to mindfulness and cooking programs. You can collect this booklet from any local library or council office or download a version from the council website www.goldcoast.qld.gov.au.
Most local community centers will have a notice board outlining regular activities and groups that take place weekly within that center.
Adult Community Education.
If you’ve always wanted to learn how to cook Moroccan food, speak Portuguese, or keep your own honey bees you can find short courses at community adult learning centers. In the Southern Queensland region, we have access to Adult Community Education colleges, you can find out more here www.acecolleges.edu.au, or the Byron Community College at www.byroncollege.org.au.
One organization linking people who want to volunteer with organizations who need volunteers on the Gold Coast is volunteeringgc.org.au. Often organizations like this one are looking for volunteers to get involved in a range of activities from short-term events through to ongoing regular positions. If you work volunteering then loneliness will go behind the door.
OK, I know that I’ve given you six options not five, however there are so many different ways for you to meet new people and get involved in your local community that it’s difficult for me to stop listing them: check out your local community garden where you can grow your own veggies, join a local Buddhist group or church group…
Make it a goal to at least investigate one of these strategies for meeting new, like-minded people in your local community today, and improve your well-being at the same time. If you can walk then start walking you will get your destination and be able to overcome your loneliness. If you frequently feel sad you may get help from this article.