4 Stress-Free Ways to Connect with Others: Feeling Better in a Lonely World

We can speculate as to the many reasons why such an enormous amount of Americans report feeling lonely. She’s lonely because she works all day, doesn’t have a boyfriend or three cats, and eats all her meals at home. He’s lonely because he spends 12 hours a day playing video games. The boy is lonely because he’s been shuffled from one foster home to another and has decided not to invest any emotions into one more adult. The scenarios are endless, but the through line is “connection.” A lack of authentic, deep connection between people is amiss, and the fallout is a cultural epidemic of loneliness.

You thought you were feeling bad before you read this! I’ll toss out some facts so we know what we’re dealing with, but then, we’ll take a look at how feeling lonely doesn’t need to be part of your daily repertoire any longer. OK, so, about 70 years ago, less than 10% of American households had just one person it in. Now it’s over 25%. Living alone, doesn’t equate to loneliness, per se. However, lack of face-to-face personal interaction is the greatest cause of loneliness.

John Cacioppo, the director of the Center for Cognitive and Social Neuroscience at the University of Chicago, is an expert on the topic of loneliness. He believes we have never been lonelier since the growth of social media. It’s a false sense of having company. “…Surrogates can never make up completely for the absence of the real thing”.

Some sources go as far as to suggest that using Facebook and Twitter make us more narcissistic rather than connected. Nonetheless, Cacioppo would concur that in order to diminish feelings of loneliness, you’ve got to get out. You don’t have to hop into crowds, crash parties, or meet with old girlfriends or boyfriends. But this girlfriend has done some research, and wants to share several ways to get off the loneliness train.

Loneliness is psychological, but it also affects your brain. One study showed that loneliness even affects the basic transcription of DNA. We’ve got to rid ourselves of this dis-ease! Here are some alternatives we can call into action:

1. Volunteer in a group with people: Being of service gives us a feeling of value. A lot of times we don’t go out or make new friends because we don’t feel worthy. Start boosting your esteem by helping others. Deal poker in a retirement home. Teach tumbling to pre-schoolers. Help with local 5K races in your area for charities.

2. Join meet-up groups: Look online and you will find thousands of groups in your area of like-minded peeps. Steer toward the non-hook-up crowds. Hiking buddies, paleontology–lovers, trivia buffs. Check a few out, in person. You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

3. Take a weekend sabbatical from electronics: See what you come up with when you can’t rely on your “virtual” friends to keep you company. Go to a store or a restaurant. You’ll find yourself making more eye contact when you don’t have a phone to stare at. It will be uncomfortable at first, but so rewarding when you power through.

4. Allow yourself to be vulnerable: If you’re not willing to be open and authentic, you won’t reap the rewards of true familial satisfaction. To feel un-lonely, you have to get connected. The only way to do that is to be brave and wear your heart on your sleeve—or at least nearby. It will be worth the courage.

I’m convinced we need others (face-to-face) in our lives to keep us feeling full and intensely alive; It’s backed by scientific study—and a diary I’ve kept for many years. Start with a purposeful perception. Look at the things you’re grateful for. Gratitude will give you a sense of worthiness and positivity. From there, you can conquer having dinner with someone else at least once a week! Good luck and may your lonely days become memories of the past…


Want to Take a Break from Alcohol? Ways to Make Changes and Still Have Fun!

Been a bit sluggish or fuzzy—for like, three…to, maybe, …fifteen years? Do you hear a little voice whisper almost every morning, “Hey, today’s the day we don’t have a glass or eight of wine.” These are just a couple of reasons you might want some tips on how to wean yourself off of habitual alcohol partaking.

Easy Dose It

Other reasons for needing to cut back (or cut yourself off) are for medical-related conditions. Perhaps your new religion, new potential spouse, or old friends and family frown upon your indulgent-enjoyment of libations.

Maybe you’re simply ready for a move towards a healthier lifestyle. Judgment-free of motive, cutting-down or complete avoidance of drinking can be a positive, healthy choice.

Take A Break

Reducing the amount and occasions you drink (as opposed to quitting cold-turkey) can be an easier path for many. Unless you’ve been ordered by a court, can’t remember your last birthday, or are at-risk of liver, pancreatic, or kidney failure, you may just want to wean yourself off, little by little. In doing so, you may find the journey informative and rewarding.

Change It Up

Replace behavior: If you normally go to happy hour with or without coworkers, other stay-at-home moms, or a 5pm wine-pouring alarm going off, try replacing those events with something else that doesn’t require or thrive well with alcohol.

Experts will suggest a physical activity. Instead, commit to a 5pm Zumba/salsa/ballet/ Pilates class that lasts for four hours (kidding on the last part.) Basically, find an enjoyable outlet that provides exercise and personal enjoyment to replace the primary drinking hour(s).

Reward Yourself

Reward behavior: Instead of spending money on alcohol, save it and treat yourself to something else that makes you feel equally content or even happier. In a very short time, you’ll see that the saved dollars normally spent on drinks will add up as a nice side bonus.

Spend the money right away on healthy drinks like smoothies, or save up until the end of the month and buy something new to wear. Side note: Chances are if you’ve given up drinking for a month, your clothing size will probably have gone down 

The Bennies

Reap benefits: Cutting down on the grog and spirits will become noticeable in your brain and your body. Your thinking will be sharpened as well as your looks. You’ll probably lose weight, your skin will glow, and you’ll have more natural energy.

Being mindful (even though it’s a trendy buzzword these days) is still wildly and truly applicable, especially within the realm of this topic. Alcohol consumption does not have to be harmful.

As we are aware, many wines and legal elixirs can be health-beneficial when ingested in small-to-medium doses. It’s the overconsumption that breeds danger. Stick to your choice, be kind to yourself, and enlist a buddy to join you if that will make it easier and more fun.

Kid Friendly Activities to Fit Your Budget

You’re looking for something to do with your kid, but you don’t want to spend $300 for a day at Disneyland. Wherever you’re located, there are several, fun, inexpensive, appropriate activities available for you and your youngster. We’ve got some budget-minded (and even free!) suggestions to lend to a memory-making day.

No Kid-ding, There’s a Lot to Do!

Sometimes it seems like there’s nothing to do. You want to do something with your child, but you just can’t come up with a new activity. It might feel like you’re always doing the same thing, or you can’t afford certain luxury outings.

Whether you live in a rural town, suburbia, or a city, believe it or not, there’s a plethora of options you can add to your child’s activity list. What seems like boring “big person” stuff can actually be kid-friendly and, ultimately, kid-enjoyable.

Friendly Faces and Culture Galore

Wherever you live or are visiting, the place has a history. It can be a memorable time when both you and your kid get to incorporate learning with a fun experience. Most locations have landmarks or historical symbols worth discovering and exploring.

Often, a local paper will note activities related to ceremonies, parades, and other cultural events that will take place. You’d be surprised how interesting the history of your locale can be. Many times there are re-enactments of historical events.

It’s also intriguing to hear about original settlers who arrived at your location. Cultural foods, costumes, and wares are often presented at fairs and other “town” events. There’s usually no admission fee to attend these types of festivals.

In a larger city, your opportunity to enjoy a variety of cultural events is widened. You can always go online and Google, “Kid-friendly things to do in__(your location)__ on      (the date)”.

Kid-Friendly Familiar Outings

  • The zoo is always a great place to visit. Check and see if your zoo offers tours or animal shows.
  • Museums are amazing. It can be something other than just the “Natural History.” Check out art museums, science, space, aircraft, even miniatures.
  • Aquariums are fascinating. Getting to learn about and watch sea creatures will fill a day with information and intrigue.
All of the above entry fees are minimal or sometimes by donation only.

Free Kid Activities (or Super Cheap)

  • In the winter if you’re near snow, there’s always sledding, snowball tossing, and snowman building.
  • In the summer if you’re near the beach or a lake, there’s always swimming, surfing, and sandcastle building.
  • Take a bus, train, tram, or ferry to somewhere nearby you’ve never been. Or, take any new mode of transportation just for the experience of riding it!
  • Check out what’s going on at the library. Sometimes there are great live-readers, storytelling, workshops, or free movies.
  • Visit a farmer’s market. Besides the delicious produce, there’s often musicians, craftsmen, and other artisans presenting their talents and wares.
  • Grab a couple of sleeping bags and a can of beans and go camping. An overnight in the mountains, desert, or even a backyard can be a memorable, fun time.
  • Visit a pet shelter. Go say hi to the animals. They love the attention, and they bring a smile to children’s faces. (Just don’t bring a new puppy home if your family is not equipped physically or financially.)

When Stuck, Indoor Activities

  • Play dodgeball with rolled up pairs of socks
  • Build a fort with chairs, sheets, towels, and blankets
  • Play card games and learn and practice card tricks
  • Tie-dye old socks, t-shirts, and pillow cases
  • Play hide and seek
  • Draw self-portraits on the bathroom mirror with lipstick or dry-erase markers

If you get into the mindset of a child’s imagination, the ideas for kid-friendly activities can be endless. Cherish your time together, no matter what you choose to experience. For other ideas on family matters, health, and optimum living, check out www.GetThrive.com

Fun, After-Feasting, Calorie-Burning Activities

It’s always great fun indulging in our favorite foods at holiday meals. But guess what? It can also be fun shedding those calories! Here are some stress-free, playful ideas on how to burn off the stuffing in your belly.

Thankful Eating

As far as pleasurable experiences go, it’s tough to beat a Thanksgiving meal or treats at other food-plentiful holidays. The turkey, ham, potatoes, stuffing, cornbread, pies, and other cultural specialty dishes are too delicious to pass up.

After the meal, we’re often exhausted from the tryptophan levels in our blood or from our bodies trying to digest everything. If you’ve done the cooking, add some extra fatigue on top of that. Most likely, not many of us are going to jump up in the evening and get in a workout.

But…There’s always tomorrow!

The Morning After

You’ve been well fed, and hopefully, you’ve gotten a good night’s rest. Now it’s time to have some more fun—this time expending calories instead of ingesting them.

If you’re over at a friend’s or family’s home, there will probably be other people to hang with. The same if you’ve invited others to your place—or if the kids came home!

Group activities the day after your feast are bonding and can make enjoyable memories. But even if you find yourself solo (or choose to be), many of the following calorie-burners can be just as pleasurable.

Outdoor Calorie Burners

-Garden. Depending on the weather, it could be a great time to prune fruit trees, fertilize, or move outdoor plants into the greenhouse. There’s always something to dig, trim, plant, or feed.

-Hopscotch. All you need is some chalk and something to toss (keys, a small beanbag, even a rock).

-Stroller or wagon time. Walk or run while pushing/pulling the youngsters.

-Collect and bag recycling. It gets you moving, saves the planet, and can put a few dollars in your pocket.

-Take your dog for a walk or play ball. If you don’t have a dog, offer to take your neighbor’s. They may appreciate it.

Indoor Calorie Burners

Pillow fights. No hitting below the belt.

-Dance. Blast your favorite music and let loose. Or, put on a music video and try to imitate the choreography. In a group or alone, dance like no one’s watching J

-Vacuum. Uses a ton of energy and you can get creative experimenting with different components for hard-to-reach spots. And, you’ll feel good about how clean your carpet looks afterwards.

-Play dodgeball with balls of socks. Just remove lamps or breakable items from the space you’ll be playing in.

Indoors or Out

-Jump rope. You can practice on your own, or with a group. Remember double dutch?

-Ride a bicycle. You can watch TV or read while riding your stationary bike. Outside, you can burn 50 calories in 10 minutes even on a nice, light ride.

-Play duck, duck, goose. It’s really fun to watch the adults try to get up quickly.

-Stair climb. You can go from the living room to the upstairs bedroom and back 10 times. Or, you can be productive and carry laundry up and downstairs. Outside, staircases, short and long, can be found all over. Just climb near a handle in case you trip.

Many communities sponsor “fun runs”, usually 3K or 5K’s. Those are terrific for getting out and meeting new peeps. There are also a bunch of chores that burn lots of calories indoors and outdoors. They may not be fun in-and-of themselves, but listening to music, or doing them with a friend, child, or pet can make it enjoyable, productive, and rewarding.


Hairstyle Updates with Sass

Bored with Your Hairstyle? 

Find a hairstyle that is so radical that you literally earn a badge of courage if you dare try it. This has to be one of the most non-controversial, yet sophisticated and lovely eras for beautiful and manageable hair. The highlights are minimal but effective, and the cuts are simple but offer volume and versatility.

The newest rage in simplicity is a haircut called the lob. It’s basically a long bob, which falls slightly between your chin and shoulder blade. Most of the hair is similar in length, but the way it’s modestly highlighted and barely styled, gives it an oxymoronic messy/neat presentation. You can look cute and sassy while accompanying the kids to school, but also have a more glam appearance for an evening dinner if you toss in some hot curls. Check out some celeb photos donning the lob http://www.harpersbazaar.com/beauty/hair/advice/g3621/top-celebrity-bobs-and-lobs/?slide=32

So, you don’t want to cut your hair?

For those unwilling to cut their hair as short as a bob or lob, the braid has returned as a chic and popular style. Pulling the hair back into a tight braid is a severe, but a very attractive look for dress-up, ultra professional, or evening. A looser, side braid is lovely for daytime, errand-running, or even workouts.

Tape-on extensions are also en vogue. They’re great because you can get ones with a slightly different tone than your color, without damaging your hair from processing. Extensions can give you the luscious look you may have never had due to fine or limp hair. They look amazing, especially when you take the time to curl or style, but they do require more maintenance; you have to brush thoroughly twice a say, wear your hair up while sleeping, and shampooing can be a procedure. Otherwise, if you’re willing to put in the time for the fun and fancy look, it’s worth trying extensions for a couple of months.

Just because we’re aging doesn’t mean we have to don old frumpy haircuts. Be adventurous and let your inner-sass out. Whether you want your hair as long as Rapunzel’s or as short as Betty Boop’s, today’s styles allow you to “fit in” comfortably and adorably.