Staying socially connected can help your physical and mental wellbeing.
But you may have times in your life when you have less social contact. For example, you may be busy caring for an infant or parent, may have lost a spouse or friends, may have retired, or may be staying at home because you’re unwell or don’t have transport.
In these situations it can be easy to slip into social isolation. This occurs when you regularly lack connection with friends, family/whānau and your community. Being alone a lot can be bad for your physical and mental health, so it’s important for you to make and keep up your social connections.
Here are a few tips to help you reduce your social isolation:
1. Reconnect with family, friends and whānau
Reply to an email, ring someone for a chat or meet for a coffee. Technology can be a big help – try texting or having a video chat with friends and loved ones.
2. Take small steps to be around other people
Go to a café or the shops and smile and make small talk with the cashier, other customers and so on. Wave or smile at your neighbours.
3. Join a club or group
Get involved in something that interests you – a book club, a craft group or a walking group. Or volunteer for a cause or charity that you support.
4. Move through the awkwardness
It may feel awkward at first to chat with people you already know and new people that you meet. If so, brush up on easy conversation starters that can help you find things to chat about. You may also want to try socialising in smaller groups. A coffee date with one person might feel easier than a large club meeting.
5. Find activities in your community
Check out resources and programmes at your local Age Concern, library, community centre, café or CAB. You can also browse community newspapers to see what activities are happening near you. Older adults can use their SuperGold card to go to places.
6. Keep learning
Enrol in an online or in-person course, or attend a talk or seminar in your community.
7. Be patient and keep trying
It can take several conversations before you make a new friend. Don’t give up – the rewards will be worth it.
- Dementia – preventing social isolation, SuperSeniors, NZ
- 5 ways to sharpen your social skills after isolation, AARP, US, 2021
- Social isolation, Super Seniors, NZ