How to Fight Boredom or Loneliness & Expand Your Social Circle
What should you do when you’re bored or lonely? Being bored is OK…occasionally, but recurring episodes of not being excited about something coming up in your day might mean it’s time to change your routine a bit. Loneliness, which is much different than choosing to spend your time alone, is a bit more serious, and can be detrimental to your health and mental well-being. If you feel truly lonely, and in need of the companionship or camaraderie of other people there are a few things you can do to increase that likelihood.
These Ideas are For People Looking for Potential Solutions for Finding New Social Opportunities…They are Not Judgement on Your Intentional Lifestyle Decisions
The ideas below are just that, ideas, and not meant to be professional advice related to mental health. Please take a look though and see if anything resonates and would be helpful. We tried to share ideas that weren’t the status quo, and perhaps instead could be used as a checklist of sorts to compare against your daily habits and lifestyle choices. Adopt a few of these practices or approaches and you just might gain new friends and interests.
SET UP YOUR LIFESTYLE TO REMOVE BARRIERS
Live in a Walkable Community or Town
Research by Interests– Use Meetup to see if there are local interest groups that appeal to you.
Eat Out– Have a coffee or lunch out frequently rotating through every shop in town.
Read Outside Your Home– Read in local parks or on the steps of the library.
Write or Work in Social Spaces– Visit co-working or other shared creative spaces.
Check the Walk Score of towns and neighborhoods.
Choose Housing Type Conducive to Meeting Neighbors
Multi-Family Communities– Condos, apartments, townhomes, alternative communities, and cluster homes by design bring you closer to others.
Amenities– Pools, tennis courts, central mailboxes, and green spaces breed familiarity and chances to chat on the sidewalk.
Community Events– Hosted events take the pressure off individuals and maximize interactions between residents
Shared Work or Goal– Cohousing and eco-villages communities provide opportunities to work with neighbors
Create an Inviting Neighbor-Facing Presence
Color Signals Friendliness– Add something inviting like a pretty plant in a street front window.
Radiate a Welcome– Put a pretty, attractive, or interesting item on your mailbox, front door, and front step even if your entrance is one of many inside a building.
Share Your Extras– If you have a garden, occasionally place things out for neighbors; whether bunches of rosemary or little piles of zuchinni.
Make this change today for under $100
Remove Hygiene Barriers to Introductions and Conversations
Many studies, including ones from the Root Cause Coalition of the AARP, the World Health Organization, and the National Institute of Health, have determined that declining personal hygiene is a common factor among those diagnosed with loneliness and/or depression. Which comes first is hard to say, since isolation is stated as a beginning point in the spiral of downward social interaction. Remember, not everyone is physically or mentally able to think about these types of changes and flexibility on your part will open lots of doors too. Here are a few areas to at least consider if you or someone you know is trying to reach out and make new friends or have more social opportunities.
Good Physical Hygiene– If you are able, consider the positive impact that a clean body, breath, and hair can have on first meetings.
Good Clothing Hygiene– Also important; if within your ability be alert to musty smells, pet hair, or food stains.
Reduce Scented Perfumes, Colognes, Lotions– If you wear scent, try to keep it extremely light. Due to allergies and personal preference many people cannot tolerate standing or sitting next to someone wearing a lot of scented product.
Cleanish Vehicle– This might be difficult or impossible depending on where you keep your car, but an attempt to keep it at least sort of clean; regardless of year, make or model, makes your home (when your car is parked out front) or you (when you’re out an about in your car) look just a bit more approachable.
Consider Getting a Dog
More Places to Go- Visiting with others at a dog park is a pleasant way to meet others while your pet plays.
Take Your Dog Places- Sit outside at a dog friendly cafe or bookstore and many will stop by to say hi and ask if OK to pet.
Take Training Seriously– If you do decide to have a dog, you have the most likelihood of others welcoming you and your pet into their lives if it is trained to be friendly, stay off furniture, not jump on people, and keep barking to a minimum.
A Note About Cat Allergies– Please take this information as related to this post on loneliness and nothing more. We love pets of all stripes and they bring SO much comfort to their owners. However, according to the AAFA, LiveScience, and Canidae, and many others, people are twice as likely to suffer from cat allergies than dog allergies. Cats can be adorable, loving pets, but since a larger percentage of people are highly allergic to their dander, especially when compared to that of dogs, it is a riskier pet to own if people visiting you in your home is a goal. A dog as a pet is a risk as well, but if someone has a cat allergy it can be severe and disallow the opportunity for a comfortable visit to your home; which of course also limits you reciprocating as a host if you join groups.
Image courtesy of Brunswick Forest Wilmington
Speak Positively to Increase the Likelihood of Future Conversations and Invitations
No Deeply Personal Questions– Please no asking religious affiliation or strongly implying yours, asking relationship status, age, or other nosy questions unless you know someone extremely well.
No Complaining– This includes things you don’t like, or want to commiserate about; unless you are already very close to someone and the timing seems appropriate.
No Gossip or Bragging– Using other people as your sole focus of conversation, even if they are your own children and the gossip is positive, can trigger someone to assume that you have very little of your own knowledge or interests to share.
Try to avoid common conversation pitfalls by following a few guidelines that show you respect people’s time.
- If you’re shy, keep in mind a list of questions you can fall back on to get things rolling with someone new.
- Speak at a good pace, and avoid using a slow or plodding conversation style.
- Don’t give people the blow-by-blow details, get to your point in a couple of good sentences.
- Once you share your idea or comment, elaborate only a little, unless asked a follow up question.
- If someone says you told them something already don’t insist on finishing the story again, just move on.
GET BUSY CREATING OPPORTUNITIES FOR INTERACTION
Have More Memberships and Meetups in Your Life
Participate in meetups, groups, and memberships that are conducive to conversation (or start your own). Check online via Meetup.com, your local library, local chapters of associations representing your interest group like AAII for investors, Audobon for birdwatchers, etc.
My favorite meetups are the potluck lunch, book club, walking, and passive income groups I hang out with on a regular basis. For me, the best ones are a mix of ages and interests. Try something once and quit if you don’t like it. Lots of people come and go from groups and no one thinks anything at all of it, so don’t let that stop you from checking out an interest……from Von
Hobbyist or Enthusiast Based Activities– Like gardening, bird watching, museum attendance, boating, and astronomy.
Interest Based Conversation– Topics like philosophy, books, environment, politics, investing and aspiring writers.
Fitness or Physical Game Groups– Consider walking, hiking, pickle ball, fishing, geo-caching, or wild food foraging.
Socially Collaborative Event Based Groups– These can be board game nights, potluck dinners, dining out, traveling together groups, etc.
Join Neighborhood Sharing Networks– Choose one about your area like a facebook or NextDoor group for your neighborhood.
Find a New Interest– Use the non-fiction section at your local library for inspiration. Slowly browse the shelves of topics, looking for a categories that spark your enthusiasm. Choose one or two that you like and look for local groups that are active in the subject.
Start your own Meetup Group– Become the organizer for a subject in which you have great knowledge or interest but no one to share it with. Creating and managing a new meetup is easy. Fill out a profile for your group, set up an event, and watch members start joining and RSVPing, all within a week or so. Meet a few people at a coffee shop and talk about your interest in detail with other like-minded people looking for conversation. If you’re shy about hosting, start a group anyway, then ask others in the group to be a co-organizers and rotate responsibility for future events.
Job Should be Compatible with Desired Lifestyle
Get a Job– If you are able to work or volunteer at least part-time you will cross paths with many more people.
Location– Consider changing jobs if it’s location forces you to live in an area unfriendly to your needs.
Commute– Don’t spend all your free time commuting if at all possible.
Weird Hours– If you’re only available when others aren’t you are much less likely to find people to hang out with.
Culture– If your job frowns on working out or lunching with co-workers, or limits opportunities for collaboration, then you might do better somewhere with an interactive and/or more fun attitude toward employee health and wellness.
Teach Something, Tutor Something, or Share Something
Teach a Class– Join your town or community college education educator offerings. You will usually see in a local area’s parks and recreation guide a list of classes and opportunities to learn. Whether language, fitness, creative writing, or other topics, those classes are frequently taught by retired locals with something to share. Reach out and you’re almost guaranteed to come in contact with people who share your interests.
Tutor– Same concept here but usually on a one-on-one basis. Think piano, knitting, math, language, and post an ad at your community center or via an ad service like craigslist. Safety first though; meet for the first time at a local library or coffee shop, and give lessons at your home only if extremely comfortable with doing so.
Share Something– This ties into being an approachable neighbor. Use your neighborhood’s group page, or a small sign in your yard to offer extra produce, curb alerts for belongings you no longer use, and other shareable things. We have friends who lend their power tools out, and have created a vibrant share group with their condo community where they’ve met more people and helped each other out more often just by nature of offering up little-used equipment to those who don’t have it.
Create Your Own Volunteer Opportunity
Work for Free for Someone Who Inspires You
Reach out to a business owner as a huge fan of their work. Let them know a couple of areas you could help their business or them, and volunteer to do the work for free. If you find a kindred spirit in a small business owner who needs a little help in areas you are good at; it’s OK to say “I admire your business and would be happy to volunteer a bit of time to help solve those issues for you”. You are more likely to meet other people who work for the business and are also driven by quality or have the same work ethic, not other stay-at-homes or retirees with nothing on the calendar.
Consider conventions, trade shows, and conferences as great places to explore your interests. You’ll be introduced to the latest and greatest thoughts and products, people with similar interests, and get to participate in socials and giveaways. Look for ideas on ExpoDataBase, Absolute Exhibits, and The Muse. Interesting conferences include expos for Baby Boomers and Retirees, as well as those by industry leaders like Dwell Magazine, or the Association of Restaurant Supply.
Adding a Few Conveniences or Wellness Items to Your Lifestyle Can Improve Overall Happiness
See if any of these pages appeal to your idea of creating a more well-rounded lifestyle, or free up time for more socializing or activities.
Comfort & Convenience
Safety & Security
Simple Living Ideas
Unique Gifts for Yourself and Others