Feeling Isolated? You’re Not Alone

Loneliness is more common than you’d think.

Story by John Martin

While the freedoms of retirement are exciting, the sudden shift in lifestyle can bring about unexpected changes that are less than exciting.

Many retirees experience emotional challenges after transitioning out of the workforce, such as social isolation and lack of purpose or fulfillment. The grief of losing loved ones and the stress of caring for a spouse or grandkids can create additional challenges.

To top it all off, social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic has increased feelings of social isolation. One recent study found that loneliness had more than doubled among seniors in 2020.

Nobody wants to feel the weight of isolation or depression, so it’s important to recognize those feelings and take steps to increase your quality of life wherever you can.

It’s more common than you think

If you’ve been experiencing symptoms of social isolation and loneliness, try to remember that you’re not the only one going through this. According to a report cited by the CDC, “more than one-third of adults aged 45 and older feel lonely, and nearly one-fourth of adults aged 65 and older are considered to be socially isolated.”

The CDC defines loneliness as the feeling of being alone, and social isolation as being the lack of social connections.

What can I do if I’m feeling lonely?

The National Institute on Aging lists a few recommendations for turning the blues into something warmer:

  • Be physically active and eat a healthy balanced diet.
  • Get 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
  • Stay in touch with friends and family.
  • Participate in activities you enjoy.
  • Let friends, family and your doctor know when you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression.

How to reach out to loved ones who are struggling

Mental health can be hard to talk about to others. Some consider it embarrassing to admit they’re struggling, so it’s important to check in with loved ones if you notice symptoms of anxiety and depression.

The Cleveland Clinic highlights changes in behavior that can be indicative of depression, such as losing interest in hobbies and important relationships and falling behind on self-care. If you suspect something, try to plan activities with the person in mind. If you can get them outside, a change of environment and immersion in nature can be great recovery tools.

Remaining mindful of your own feelings and the feelings of loved ones in your life can help you make the most of your retirement.


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