Contemplating that knitting class? There's no day like the present to get involved.
By the time a person reaches their mid-50s, the number of hours spent surrounded by children, friends, and extended family members has plateaued, and from the age of 40 onward, adults spend an increasing amount of time alone. Yet, frequent socialization can have significant mental health benefits; in a study of more than 1,100 seniors, researchers found that cognitive functioning declined 70 percent slower in those who had frequent social contact than those who had little social activity. Additional research has shown that socially active adults with depression are two and a half times more likely to have symptom improvement after two years than those who had minimal social activity. Looking to maintain your reputation as a social butterfly while keeping your mind sharp? Take up one of these social circle-expanding activities.
Take Classes at a Local University
Not only can attending a biweekly Italian art history course or macroeconomics class among hundreds of millennials make you appear incredibly studious, but you’ll also be able to socialize with fellow students and learn something new at the same time.
Pick Up a New Hobby
Now that you’ve said goodbye to your daily job, utilize all that free time by taking a weekly yoga class, learning how to knit with members of your community, or maybe even attending a writers’ workshop. You can also virtually connect with people in your area and across the country in a friendly game of competition — the National Senior League holds weekly Wii Bowling competitions for teams of four. Prefer some in-person rivalry? The National Senior Games Association organizes a 20-sport, biennial competition for the men and women 50-years-old and older who are involved in its 51-member organizations throughout the country.
Join Social Networks
Don’t discount your grandkids’ use of Facebook and other social media platforms just yet. When you sign up, you can join groups geared toward your specific interests and make new friends. Plus, using a social platform can help you stay in touch with loved ones who don’t live nearby.
Instead of giving your time back at a soup kitchen just once a year, turn that one-off volunteer experience into a regular occurrence. If you love working with children, consider becoming a Foster Grandparent, in which you help children learn to read and provide tutoring, serve as a mentor to teenagers and young mothers, and even work with abused or neglected children.
Fill Up Your Calendar
Make it a point to schedule regular meetings with your neighbors, friends, old coworkers, and loved ones. Make a set plan to catch up with your longtime buddy at your go-to coffee shop every other Thursday, have your kids and grandchildren over for a weekly Sunday night dinner, and stroll through the park with an extended family member once a month.