Loneliness and social isolation have significant negative impact on health with aging. Recent studies have shown that loneliness and social isolation may lead to memory loss, heart disease, stroke, mental illness, immune dysfunction, sleep disturbance, substance abuse and early death! Those who are able to maintain strong social connections and relationships live healthier lives. Not surprisingly, the World Health Organization has added both loneliness and social isolation to the International Classification of Diseases list!
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The other day, I was listening to a podcast where the expert described the lives of Japanese centenarians. One of the important aspect of their lifestyle was connection with their community and meaningful social bonds. Your social network is your safety net to support you when something goes wrong and celebrate your successes and milestones! When you socially connect with someone, your brain gets boost from neurotransmitters such as serotonin, oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins which make you feel happy, purposeful and motivated. That’s why you feel great when you are having a joyful conversation with your friend on phone, meet with your relatives during a family wedding or have a pot luck supper with your neighbors. Your brain is flooded with these wonderful neurotransmitters! Decades long Harvard research also confirmed the importance of close relationships and happiness.
With that, here are some of the ideas to beat loneliness and social isolation
Connect with your friends and family on regular basis. It could be in person, on phone, video call or other medium.
Know your neighbor
Join health club or similar facility where you can participate in group exercises and healthy activities
Dedicate some time volunteering
Get a pet
Involve in spiritual activities and events if you feel it has positive impact on you
Find a purpose or work for a cause
Join a group vacation tour
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