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DIY or Get Help – part 2

DIY or Get Help – part 2   12/28/18

Social isolation, loneliness, and depression are three distinctly different things.  Last week’s Seize the Day news column provided definitions of each because it is important to understand the differences, and address each one appropriately.

This week’s column offers DIY (Do It Yourself) action steps for dealing with social isolation and loneliness.  Keep in mind:  a do-it-yourself approach is not appropriate for depression because it is a diagnosed medical/mental health condition.  Typically, dealing with depression requires a variety of approaches to treatment, including professional/therapeutic support, social support, exercise, diet, rest and medication prescribed by a health care professional.

To deal with social isolation and loneliness, and decrease the risk for developing depression, we need to do things that promote mental health and wellness.  Action steps include:

Physical activity.  Do movements that are intense enough to improve blood circulation.  Gardening, cleaning house, hiking, walking, or walking the dog are a few ideas.  Adding music can make it even more enjoyable.  Perhaps it can include a social component, such as when you go dancing or are part of an exercise group.

  • Crafting.   The big benefits here are having an opportunity to relate to the outside world, achieving the satisfaction of creating, and getting a feeling of accomplishment.
  • Have fun.  That will look like different things to different people:  laughing with friends, playing with grandkids, watching a funny movie, playing games, etc.  Games are great for keeping our brain engaged and stimulated.  And games provide an excellent opportunity for socialization. (Unless you are playing solitaire or other one-person games.)
  • Communication and socialization.  Connect with friends or family.  In person (face-to-face) is best, but via technology works, too. While together, share some laughs, and maybe some hugs, too!  Laughter and touches such as hugging can release oxytocin in the brain.  Oxytocin is a chemical that is involved in happiness.
  • Focus on others.  Be perceptive of what they might want or need.  Ask them about their day, their family, their plans, or their hobbies.  Then listen with your eyes and your ears.
  • Volunteer.  Find, offer, or create an opportunity that works well for you.  Have it align with your personal goals and core values. Focus on what you can give, and you’ll be surprised what you get in terms of feeling like you’ve made a difference.  A proven way to help ourselves feel better is by doing acts of kindness or generosity.
  • Practice gratitude.  Appreciate the little things, and write them down on a daily basis in a little notebook or on slips of paper that you put into a gratitude jar to read later.  Choose contentment.
  • Be curious.  Take a class or two or three, learn new things, and develop new skills.  Being a lifelong learner expands your growth experiences, builds neuroplasticity in your brain, and creates another opportunity to meet new people.  When we associate with people who care about the same things we do, we’re that much more likely to align ourselves with positivity and people who will encourage us to make and reach our goals and live a healthy lifestyle.
  • Spirituality –  Practicing spiritual beliefs has been found to improve mental health.

Adapted from:  Idaho State University, “Preventing Anxiety and Depression in the Elderly.  (https://blog.cetrain.isu.edu/blog/preventing-anxiety-and-depression-in-the-elderly)

Photo Source: https://pixabay.com/en/elderly-chess-belgrade-672143/

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