Prevention Wellness

Loneliness Buster: 7 Instant Fixes for Happiness After 50

As individuals age, there’s a common trend of spending more time alone, as revealed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Time Use Survey. This shift involves a gradual decline in the time spent with children, family, and friends after the thirties, leading to increased isolation. By the age of 70, the average person spends merely one hour with friends and non-spouse family members, dedicating around eight hours a day to solitude. This pattern can significantly impact mental and physical health, prompting the U.S. Surgeon General to declare loneliness a public health crisis in 2019.

Addressing loneliness after 50 involves adopting strategies recommended by therapists to foster connections and combat social isolation. Suzette Bray, a licensed therapist, emphasizes the importance of avoiding comparisons with others’ social lives, normalizing occasional loneliness, and offering self-compassion. Activity sampling is suggested as a means of self-discovery, helping individuals identify new passions and connect with like-minded individuals. Taking the initiative to engage in activities alone can lead to unexpected opportunities for social interaction and build self-confidence.

Volunteering emerges as a powerful tool to alleviate loneliness, providing opportunities to meet new people and fostering a shared sense of purpose. Ray Christner, specializing in cognitive behavior therapy, encourages offering skills or interests to local organizations, emphasizing the positive impact on mental well-being. Reconnecting with past relationships, whether due to life’s demands or drifting apart, can be rewarding, as shared history offers instant conversation topics. Therapists also recommend scheduling time to deepen existing connections, fostering regular meaningful interactions to combat loneliness.

“Loving kindness meditation” is suggested as a practice to strengthen feelings of closeness, involving sending positive intentions to oneself, loved ones, acquaintances, and challenging individuals. Finally, the act of writing is highlighted as a powerful tool to combat loneliness. Writing can range from private journaling, which helps individuals feel less alone with their thoughts, to sending personal, handwritten notes expressing gratitude or sharing memories, thereby fostering connection and combating feelings of isolation.

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