Your Loneliness Rx
Take any article out there about making as an adult, and I’ve probably read it. I’ve moved every year for the past 10 years, in 5 different cities. The worst part? Having to leave friends behind and start anew.
I’m a mix of introvert and extrovert and when it comes to meeting new people, that’s where I’m most introverted. But my extroverted side definitely needs social time. And I’ve learned my health does too.
Loneliness is increasingly being talked about as a health hazard. The UK now has a Minister of Loneliness. Former US Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy is raising awareness about this "loneliness epidemic" and associates smoking 15 cigarettes a day and obesity having similar effects on your lifespan. Lacking social connections also puts you at higher risk of heart disease and mental illness.
Between moving often and working all the time, I hadn’t done a great job of cultivating new friendships and nurturing the ones I have, so I recently made it a priority to re-introduce myself to my friends and family and make new friends. More than any other change I’ve made in my life, spending more time with the people I love has been transformative.
Here’s what’s worked for me:
Instagram’s location search. One of my new friends found me when scrolling through posts nearby. She saw I was posting things she’s into and messaged me to say so. I suggested we meet up for coffee and now she’s my go-to fitness class buddy!
Proactive scheduling. I found myself seeing each of my local friends only every few months. We’d hang out, say “we should do this more often!”, get busy, and before we knew it, weeks had gone by. Now, after we hang out or chat, I send them an email later that day so we can start finding our next date.
Phone calls. Skype and Google hangouts are great, but we’re so often on the move these days that sometimes an old-fashioned phone call is more likely to do the trick. Have a long commute? Schedule phone calls with your long-distance friends. Have a long walk to the grocery store? Try to catch one of your friends on the fly!
Events. Rather be in a pool of piranhas than a room full of strangers? Try events with speakers or activities rather than cocktail hours or general meetups. Even if you’re early, you know that at some point, everyone’s attention will be on the main event, which can take the pressure off. Take a seat and see if there’s anyone with a friendly vibe and ask them what brought them to the event. If you like their outfit, tell them! Compliments are a great way to break the ice.
I’ll be at GOOD Fest in LA in a few days for a solid dose of good company. It’s sold out, but there will be another GOOD Fest coming up in August and the ladies at B+YND put on classes all year, so keep an eye out!