Question: What Does Isolation Feel Like?
Answer: It Can Be Awful — but Here’s How to Feel Better
“I feel like I have no energy, even to spend time with my close friends.”
“I feel so cut off from the world. I wonder if people even notice me when I’m out and about?”
Do you recognize yourself in any of these statements? If so, you may be feeling the effects of social isolation. The good news? There are simple things you can do to feel better.
Social isolation is more than being alone; it’s feeling detached physically or psychologically or being disconnected from friends and family, something two thirds of adults experienced during the coronavirus pandemic.
Even as some pandemic restrictions ease and some events resume, older adults may still be experiencing social isolation for a variety of reasons. Grown children and grandchildren may live far away. A job change may mean no longer having daily contact with co-workers. Injury or poor health may keep you away from the activities you enjoy.
In short, being cut off from other people can make you ache emotionally — which, in turn, affects your physical well-being. Studies show that social isolation and loneliness are as bad for health as obesity and smoking.
Increase Your Social Interactions
So how can you overcome loneliness and isolation, feel more connected to the world around you, and protect your health? According to experts, trying something new to increase your social interactions — or returning to a favorite hobby or other activity — may help.
Here are some activities to consider:
- Volunteer in your community.
- Enroll in an art, exercise, or cooking class; many community organizations, such as libraries and senior and community centers, offer activities and classes.
- Join a social club like Men’s Shed or Red Hat Society.
- Participate in a program that connects older adults with schools and young people, like these in the Generations United database.
- Seek out kindred spirits in online communities. Support Groups
Isolation can feel physically and emotionally painful, but even taking a small step — like researching an online activity or having coffee with a friend — can put you on a path to a more connected, more enriching life.