This time of year, it can be hard to muster up the energy to roll out of bed, much less spend time with friends. A few months of short days and cold nights can take a serious toll on our emotional well-being. But let’s not let our wintery woes get the best of us.
Social isolation doesn’t just make us feel bad. Research shows that it can also have tangible negative effects on our physical health. According to the National Institute on Aging, loneliness is often associated with raised systolic blood pressure levels. Now more than ever, it’s important that we fight the urge to hibernate and get out among friends and loved ones.
Recently, professionals in the medical field have begun thinking of creative new ways to stave off what some are calling an epidemic of loneliness in modern society. Dr. Paul Tang, a national expert on health care quality, is one such individual.
In 2013, Tang founded LinkAges, a service oriented program designed to help people connect with one another. At its core, LinkAges is essentially a networking platform for volunteers to meet and swap skills and knowledge. Volunteer hours are then “banked” in exchange for future services.
Say, for example, someone in your LinkAges network needs a new radiator. You’re handy with cars, so you volunteer three hours of your time to go to their house and lend a hand. Those three hours are then banked in the LinkAges system. If, a month from now, you need some help with yard work, you can cash in your three hours for help from a volunteer with landscaping experience.
We just can’t get enough of this idea. Programs such as LinkAges have the potential to transform communities into well-connected networks of caregivers and helping hands.
But this is just one way to stay connected. Check with your local community center to find out about upcoming events and activities. Join a book club. Set aside time to watch the game with friends. Don’t be shy! You’re not the only one who could use some company.
Struggling with loneliness this winter? Don’t resign yourself to isolation. Call today to speak with one of our caregivers. We’d love to hear from you!