You hear over and over how important it is to be physically active. But do you hear that it is also important to be socially active? People who are socially active have better mental health as well as cognitive function. They feel like they belong and are more connected to the world around them. Those who do not spend time with others have a higher risk of developing depression and possibly dementia.
- Take the opportunity to give back to the community through volunteer work. Maybe you can help stuff envelopes for a mailing for a non-profit, help in a soup kitchen or even socialize with cats or dogs at a local animal shelter. Studies show that volunteering can lead to better health and mental cognition. It also gives people a sense of purpose as they do good for their community.
- Find or Continue a Hobby.Do you like to paint, draw, play bridge, take pictures, fish or golf? If so, help them expand that hobby. There may be classes or events at a local park district or YMCA where they can get involved. There you can make friends and interact with other people who have the same passion.
- Catch Up with Old Friends.Do you only talk to the same family members or a couple close friends? Why not reach out to other family members or friends that you haven’t seen in a while and let them reconnect. If you can build a bigger social network, you won’t feel isolated.
- Interact with a Pet.Did you have a cat or dog growing up or as a younger adult? If you can care for it, why not get a pet that would be easy to take care of. (Cats are pretty self-sufficient.) If you don’t get a pet of their own, see ‘Volunteer’ above. If you are able, maybe you could volunteer at a local animal shelter a couple times a month. Psychology Today reviewed a number of published studies and found that pets do make excellent therapists. In fact, when looking at studies involving Alzheimer’s, development disabilities and even schizophrenia, the patients who interacted with therapy animals saw beneficial results.