Life is busy these days and whether we realise it or not, many people are experiencing bouts of loneliness more often. Experts tell us this is due to the quality of our relationships not necessarily the quantity. Increasing use of social media for our friendship fix, results in us missing out on more meaningful interactions. Concentrate on the positive interactions and people in your life, accepting relationships may inevitably change will help you to move on if they fail.
There can be many explanations why we lose this very important “male/blokes” contact with mates. Marriage, children and work commitments, some of the more notable reasons. Very quickly we lose a sense of us and important friendships and interactions go by the wayside, thus leading to loneliness. Prolonged loneliness leads to less enjoyment in relationships, low levels of contentment, more negative emotions and eventually can lead to depression, anxiety and have poor physical health outcomes. Increased symptoms of headaches, stomach problems and poor sleep patterns can develop when we are socially isolated. Men suffering from loneliness are more likely to live shorter lives.
Tips for combating Loneliness:
· Make time for friends, this is anyone that makes you feel good, has common interests and can share a laugh with you.
· If social interactions make you feel anxious or you avoid them, reach out to others. These uneasy feelings will ease with time, the more occasions you attend the easier it will become.
· Practice these encounters, think about questions you could ask to generate conversation and really listen to the answers.
· Join a sporting club. If you no longer play, volunteer or take on a role at your old club that would keep you involved.
· Don’t like sport? create your own “Men’s Social Club” in your local area, meet for a coffee, beer, fishing or a cycle once a month, keep connected!
· Stop texting, and make that phone call. Friendships and connection take commitment but contribute positively to us living longer, healthier, happier lives.
· Switch off social media and participate in your local community. Search local papers and government websites for organisations and events that interest you, and get involved!
· Volunteer your time, look through your local papers for opportunities to volunteer, this is a great way to forge new friendships and food for your soul.
John was 66 years of age when he came to our office. He had been successful in business, managed staff well and now was retired and expecting a life full of fun, gardening, fishing and fixing all those small jobs at home that he never had time to do. Within the first twelve months John was starting to back up into his shell, his hobbies became a little tiresome and he missed the responsibility that his old job provided. Under instruction from his wife, John came in for a chat.
John's story sounded very familiar to many conversations previously held in the office about retirement and how to plan for the special time when you finish work. John's solution's came from some words of advice about regularly attending a coffee shop and having random conversations with other patrons and secondly his new best friend "Jet", a dog from a nearby rescue centre that the family adopted. There was a major change over the next 3 months for all concerned, John was now never lonely, John's wife was happy and Jet was ecstatic with his new life and family. John walked that dog daily which also created a new friendship circle. It is okay to be alone, however backing up into your shell isn't the answer.
Remember a simple conversation can turn an acquaintance into a friend.