Last week, I reconnected with a friend who had recently retired.
“I’m happier than I’ve ever been. My kids are grown and doing great. I’m out of the rat race and working out again,” she said.
She was positively glowing.
One of the things she said was key to her transition was keeping busy. She didn’t want to become a hermit crab who never left the house.
“I go the gym six days a week,” she stated. “It gives me a place to go and I feel better when I’m done.”
Apparently, some of her friends who had also recently retired were less comfortable with going out.
She made a good point and I wondered, just how important is it that we keep getting out and about as we age?
The answer? Very.
Science has weighed in on the subject. We know that isolating yourself can be harmful to your health and your heart. Staying home on a regular basis and not getting out can also lead to fear and increased aggression. Then there’s the likelihood that loneliness will cuddle up to you as your self-induced isolation inhibits your social circle.
Who wants to feel sick, fearful and lonely? Not me. Cocoons are for budding butterflies.
So, here’s something to try. If you find yourself cocooning and staying inside your home often, think back to when your kids were little.
Remember when they started a new school? They may have felt lonely and nervous about not knowing anyone. They may also have complained that there was “nothing to do.”
I’ll bet you had some great advice for them.
I remember, for example, telling our kids there are simple ways to start a conversation with new people. Compliment them on something, maybe the shirt they’re wearing or their hair, and ask about it. Or maybe they’re doing something you like to do, like painting. Take an interest in their hobby or, in this case, artwork.
And the “nothing to do” complaint? That was a no brainer. That’s why we have vacuum cleaners and rakes in our home.
Odds are pretty good you had similar conversations with your kids. How did you encourage them to be social? How did you keep them from isolating themselves in the house?
Now, flip the receiver of these suggestions. Think of the sage advice you gave years ago and apply it to yourself. This is the beauty of the wisdom we’ve earned fair and square.
And the bonus? Your health and well-being may benefit from it.
Make the best of this time. And get out of the house!