Back in May, the Surgeon General announced a national strategy on social connection, highlighting what many of us know intuitively and feel deep in our bones: staying connected to the world around us is what allows us to thrive physically and mentally, while loneliness and isolation can lead to negative outcomes. Many of us have enough friends but don’t always prioritize them, while others of us are craving more connection in our lives. As July turns to August and fall is around the corner, here are some creative ideas to deepen our relationships that go beyond eating out or meeting for a drink:
- Go for a walk or hike. Chicago may be flat but there are still great walks in and around the city. Head to the lakefront trail or drive out to the suburbs to get into the woods. The Palos Trail systems even has some mini-elevation gains! Invite a friend or join one of these established walking groups. A bonus here is getting out into nature.
- Enjoy a different kind of book club. Instead of the typical book club where everyone is supposed to read the same book, host an article club where everyone brings their favorite article to share. These could be anything from a tip in Real Simple to a long form piece in the New Yorker. If you’d rather not host, you can reach out to your local bookstore or library branch.
- Most importantly, tap into your true self. Spend some time thinking about what you really want to do instead of what you think you should do, and then pursue it. Do you want to learn how to knit? Play an instrument? Learn how to tell an amazing story? Once you figure out what you are authentically drawn to, connections occur with others who love that activity as well.
And remember: loneliness is not the same as being alone – many of us need time alone to recharge. But even introverts need some level of companionship and engagement. You can read more about the Surgeon General’s findings here.
By: Jean Taylor, Intern