Humans were meant to be social creatures. We thrive on interaction with others. Socializing and meeting new people is an important part of our lives. That’s why it’s important to expand your social circle. It’s beneficial for our physical health as well as our mental health.
However, with age, it can become a bit more challenging to make new friends, especially following retirement. As a result, many seniors begin to become isolated and lonely. According to a report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM), 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.
With loneliness comes an increased risk of cognitive decline and feelings of depression. But, no matter your age or personality, you must continue to put yourself out there and make new friends. Here’s how you can expand your social circle in four steps!
Find Like-Minded People
We’re friends with the people we are with for a reason. Usually, there is some sort of shared interest. Whether it’s sports, a hobby, or a belief, some agreed-upon mutual liking brings you together. One of the easiest ways to find people who share your interests is by searching online.
There are so many social groups that can be found on the internet. Facebook is a great resource. You can search for new groups to join and easily keep in touch with all your new friends. Social media has made it so much easier to stay in touch. If you don’t find exactly what you’re looking for, try starting your own group and inviting friends to join it. The possibilities are endless online.
Scouring the internet and keeping up-to-date with your online friends is great, but you still need to get out. A great way to meet new people (in person) is through volunteering. Pick a cause that means something to you and share your passion with others. For example, if you like animals, consider helping out at an animal shelter, or if you enjoy reading, volunteer at the local library.
Say Hi to a Stranger
Talking to strangers can seem awkward or uncomfortable, but it’s a great way to meet others. Striking up a conversation with someone is easier than you may think. Make small talk while you wait in the grocery line. Or if you’re in line to order something like a coffee or smoothie, ask if they have any recommendations. You never know whom you will meet.
Take an interest in them and ask questions. Being a good listener is an important trait and an attractive quality to have. If they’re wearing a sports shirt, inquire about it. No matter how shy you might feel, just saying hi and sparking a conversation could make someone’s day. Most older adults just want to have companionship and someone to talk to.
Befriend Your Neighbors
If you’re not working anymore, there’s a good chance you will spend most of your days and time at home. So, why not get to know your neighbors if that’s the case? There are several benefits to befriending your neighbors but increasing your social circle is definitely one of them.
Bake some yummy treats and surprise them with a homemade gift basket. Or take turns hosting dinner and encourage them to invite other friends you can get to know. If you like your neighbors, you’ll probably like their friends too. If you both have dogs, set a time to go for a walk together. Neighbors are the best friends because they’re close and easily accessible.
It’s Time to Be Social
Being social is vital for your mental well-being. Regardless of your age or circumstances, you can still find opportunities to be social and expand your social circle. Social interaction with others will help boost your mood, promote positivity, and, most of all, provide you with a support system that cares. It may be difficult at first to grow your social circle, but with time and these steps, you’ll find making new friends (and keeping old ones) easier than you thought. It just takes a little effort.