An active social life is often tied to a consistent and well-maintained routine. Undergoing a significant life change or entering into a time of transition can easily throw off that routine. Even though it might not seem like a priority at the time, sustaining your social life through periods of change can have positive benefits on your physical and mental health.
Here, we discuss a few life transitions common to older adults and how to stay social despite the changes.
The problem: For many working adults, a healthy social life stems from interactions with coworkers. When you’ve grown to depend on your relationships with your coworkers as daily stimulation, retirement can seem isolating and lonely.
The solution: Entering retirement doesn’t mean you need to cut all ties with your coworkers. You can still join your same social circle for after work activities or visit the office during lunchtime. Make an effort to reach out to particularly close work friends to establish a new social routine now that you don’t see them every day. Continuing these relationships can help ease an abrupt transition from a full time job to retirement.
The problem: Whether moving to a smaller home or retirement community, relocating is always tough on your social calendar. Depending on how significant the distance is in your transition, maintaining relationships and activities through a relocation can be a challenge.
The solution: As with retirement, the stress of relocating can be eased by positive social interactions. Even though you’re relocating, you might still be able to continue many of your same social activities. Look into similar options near your new home to build a new social calendar around activities you already know are stimulating. Make plans to keep in touch with the friends you’re leaving behind—set phone dates, plan visits, and connect on social media.
The problem: When you sustain a loss, socializing is often the last thing you want to do. Rather than face your friends and family, you might feel inclined to suffer your grief alone.
The solution: As understandable as this reaction is, a time of bereavement is when you need your social circle the most. Isolating yourself from your loved ones will only serve to perpetuate your grief. Instead, allow your social group to help you through this challenging time, whether their offer is simply to deliver a meal or keep your company. Reach out to a friend when you need to talk.
Going through change is never easy, but staying social can help ease some of the stress and struggle that comes with the adapting process. Embrace the social circles you’ve created for yourself rather than allowing transitions to isolate you.