I was honored to contribute to this article which appeared on Page 5 of the Wellness Section in the Sunday New York Times on October 30th.
Does the upcoming Valentine’s Day make you wish you had someone to love (and to love you)? Do you miss a loved one? Or do you just feel lonely?
Don’t despair—there are ways to feel less lonely during all the Valentine’s Day hype.
Perhaps you have tried interacting with others on your smartphone or even with an online group. But recent studies have shown that we become even lonelier during screen time because it does not provide the meaningful, deep connection with others that we long for.
To dispel loneliness get out of your house and get involved with an activity you like. Besides having an enjoyable time, you might even find a new acquaintance, friend, lover. Don’t wait for someone to find you—smile and start talking with someone nearby while engaged in the following activities.
Think about who you would get the most satisfaction from helping. Would it be children, teenagers, adults in special circumstances, senior citizens? Then do an online search for where you might be most needed. The search terms would be the name of your city and the word, “volunteer”. Or, you can make the search more specific, by adding the name of the group you would like to help (e.g. homeless, migrants, special needs, hospitalized). VolunteerMatch.com and CreateTheGood.com are two sites that list volunteer opportunities in your local community. Not only would you be making a positive change in your community, you would be meeting people who are also volunteering.
Foster or Adopt a Pet
You may find a loving pet to be a loving companion. A cat can give you warm, soft comfort as it curls up on your lap. A dog might even get you out of your house on a daily basis, where you might meet some of your neighbors. Or you and your dog might meet other doggie lovers at a doggie park. Contact your local pet adoption group to foster or adopt a pet.
Join a Special Interest Group
If you have a hobby or special area of interest, you could join a group of people who share that interest. Every city has an abundance of special interest groups. Find one at meetup.com. Some of the meetups in your city involve hiking, cooking, developing a new skill, discussing a topic, and participating in a sport.
Sign up for a Course or a Fitness Center’s Program
If you have a regularly scheduled event where you are with other people, you already have a way not to be lonely during the upcoming Valentine’s Day. Find classes at your local adult schools or universities that might interest you. Join a fitness center. And don’t forget to reach out to others by maybe asking for help with something.
Read a Good Book
Visit your local library or bookstore. Selecting a book from browsing the shelves will give you an opportunity to interact with others before going home to read that book. Escape to another world through an engrossing fiction book. Learn something new through a helpful nonfiction book. One nonfiction book, Love Demystified: Strategies for a Successful Love Life, will give you even more suggestions on how to dispel the Valentine’s Day blues.