Wednesday, October 23, 2013
With the various health issues, family health care issues, long work hours, economic issues (cost of groceries, gas and medical care) and home repair issues, it is often easy to find ourselves isolated and detached from our friends and neighbors. Since I've experienced several of these issues recently, I've decided to come up with a viable plan to help me cope with any unexpected situations that result in me being/feeling isolated from other people. Here is what I came up with:
1.) Let other trusted people know what is going on and establish a list of family, friends and neighbors with whom you can call or visit. In this age of technology, my number one need is to talk and/or see another human being in person. They can either come to me or I can go to them. Either way, the human touch is my A#1 choice for coping.
2.) Seek out your spiritual leader. Most ministers, rabbis, priests, pastors etc. are available to their congregations for home or hospital calls. You just have to pick up the phone and call or speak to one of them after your religious services. Spiritual leaders also know who to contact for help in your community, if you have an issue of needed outside help. Many religious organizations offer counseling, social events, volunteering opportunities and other religious functions.
3.) If you have a mode of transportation and can physically get out of the house, many area hospitals offer support groups which you may find helpful in your particular situation. They also have education classes (usually free) on a variety of topics.
4.) If you have a mode of transportation and can physically get out of the house, many areas have a public library with computer hub, book clubs, education classes, craft classes and other resources available.
5.) Many school systems offer adult education, some colleges offer online educations (some of these are even free!) and many cities and/or counties offer a variety of classes through their recreation and parks departments. Some offer programs for senior citizens, job fairs and community boards. The local Chamber of Commerce frequently offers programs for a variety of businesses as well as classes and social activities. Many post local activities on their web sites.
6.) If you don't have transportation, calling the city, county or state that you live in may give you information on bus lines, handicapped transportation and organizations who volunteer to drive people to various locations. Family, friends and neighbors are also usually good about offering rides, especially if you offer to pay something toward the cost of gas.
7.) If for some reason you can't leave the house or are in a hospital setting, please let your family, friends, neighbors and spiritual counselor know. Most people are only too glad to offer support if they know that you are in need of it. During my last two surgeries, friends and neighbors came to visit me. Many of them brought dinners so that my hubby wouldn't have to both take care of me and spend time shopping and cooking. We were both so very grateful to everyone.
8.) If some other reason keeps you isolated, take heart. Seeking out Spark Friends, the message boards here at Spark People, writing blogs, reading other Spark blogs can offer you support via the internet. I have met many people through our local Spark Team and we get together once a month for dinner. (I helped to start our local team with another person in our area. It was actually her idea and I ran with it) If there isn't a local Spark Team in your area, you can take the bull by the horns and start one yourself with a few of your friends or co-workers. You can also look up your State Spark team and ask on the team boards if anyone lives in your area. That would be another way to get some face to face support.
9.) I started going to our local Weight Watchers meetings, which offers unlimited meeting opportunities. I can go every day if I feel the need for support with my goals during my weight loss journey. For me, I like the idea that if I feel alone and in need of support, I just look the meeting times up on their web site and off I go! There are many other organizations that offer something similar. Be aware that most of them charge a weekly or monthly fee unlike Spark People which is free. Again, the human element here is what appeals to me when I'm feeling isolated for what ever reason.
10.) If all else fails, I turn to doing crafts and look for classes in making simple items at the local craft store. Or, I go to the local indoor pool at the Y and attend water classes, Zumba classes, Silver Sneakers, yoga, monthly lunches, workout on the machines or watch demonstrations of different classes. Many of the things I learn, I can in turn take back home with me and do on my own. I am on the member contact lists for several of my water classes. When people don't hear from me for a while, I will often get a call or email, asking if I'm okay. It goes a long way to help me fight isolation!
I hope my list of strategies strikes a bell with some of you out there. The biggest hurdle I've encountered with combating isolation is swallowing my false sense of pride and independence and picking up the telephone to let others know my situation. I've learned over the past 5 years that other people are not mind readers. If I have needs, I have to make them known, otherwise those needs will remain unfulfilled.