Many women in the Sixty and Me community are dealing with loneliness. Some older women feel like they have had isolation thrust upon them by a divorce, career change, bereavement or relocation. Others have made conscious choices that have led to a solitary life. Either way, there is no denying that loneliness is a serious issue.
Through my conversations with the women in our community, I have found two general perspectives on living alone.
Some women love their own company and have found lots of wonderful ways to make new friends and get involved in their community. Even if they live by themselves, they feel that their friends and family are only a call away.
Unfortunately, for many women, things are not quite so simple. For one reason or another, they find themselves trapped in a “loneliness loop.”
The more isolated they feel, the less they want to engage with the world – and the less they want to engage with the world, the more isolated they feel.
Recently, I had the honor of sitting down with Kory Floyd, a Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona. Kory is also the author of a new book called “The Loneliness Cure.”
On our interview, we discuss what Kory calls, “maladaptive behaviors” and the impact that they have on older women who are suffering from feelings of loneliness.
Kory starts by giving his thoughts on how to feel good about yourself during those “lonely patches” that everyone experiences. He also talks about the fact that our feelings of loneliness come from our innate need to have strong social connections.
Unfortunately, when they are feeling lonely, some people turn to external things to compensate for their lack of meaningful relationships. These behaviors, like shopping or drinking alcohol, provide a short-term buzz, but, do little to solve the underlying problem of loneliness.
Following are a few of Kory’s thoughts on the maladaptive behaviors that contribute to our loneliness. When you are ready to address them, I suggest starting with the following article. In it, I provide some practical advice on dealing with your bad habits.
In our interview, Kory points out that many people respond to their feelings of loneliness by indulging in addictive habits like gambling, shopping, smoking, drinking or out of character sexual behaviors. In the short-term, these behaviors give us a temporary buzz and may insulate us from our feelings of loneliness. But, in the long-term, they may make us less likely to engage with the world.
This is not to say that having the occasional glass of wine is a problem. It’s more the use of alcohol (or any other addictive substance or behavior) as a crutch that is the problem.
If you are feeling lonely, Kory’s advice is to focus on the things that you can control. Start an exercise program. Embrace healthy food. Learn to be mindful about the way that your body is reacting to your feelings of social isolation.
These behaviors will give you a psychological foundation that you can build on.
If you are looking for a place to start, here are 10 small habits that can make a huge difference in your life.
I hope that you find my interview with Kory useful and inspiring. Please enjoy the show. Then, join the conversation in the comments section below.
What positive habits have you adopted recently? Do you agree that negative habits can actually make us feel more socially isolated? Why or why not? Please join the conversation.
Kory Floyd is a Professor of Communications at the University of Arizona. He has been studying loneliness and the need for affection and love in life for over 20 years. He is the author of a new book called “The Loneliness Cure, Six Strategies for Finding Real Connections in Your Life.”