Spread happiness: 8 simple ways to boost happiness and stay connected
It’s been a long year – especially for seniors who may feel isolated from their community and anxious about the pandemic.
The prolonged effects of social isolation can lead to loneliness, physical inactivity, poor mental health and other health issues. But there are many ways that you can stay connected whilst in self-isolation.
It’s time to look for new ways to connect. Try these ideas for creative ways to connect – even if you’re feeling reluctant to return to your pre-COVID life.
1. Try new activities
Being at home for an extended period of time may have left you feeling like you’re stuck in a rut or experiencing a lack of confidence. Trying something new can be a great way to boost your self-esteem, and don’t worry if you need a little help to get started, your family and friends are here to help you each step of the way.
Are you looking for a new interest or hobby, but you’re not sure where to start? Ask your family or friends for some support to help you source the right materials or information, talking with your grandchildren about the internet is a fantastic way to connect. Your library or community centre may also be able to support you as you try a new hobby.
Ideas of new things to include:
- Learn to use a computer & search the internet or watch Netflix
- Researching family history
- Learning a new type of craft like scrapbooking
- Taking online dance or art classes
- Joining an online community group in their area
- Making Christmas decorations
- Writing a story or your memoir
2. Organise an armchair overseas holiday
This is a fun way to create some novelty – especially if you’ve had to cancel a holiday. Choose a location you would like to travel to. Then cook up a storm from that part of the world and find some resources to enjoy while spending a day or two soaking up everything from that country.
- Watching a travel documentary from that country
- Reading popular books or watching popular films from that country
- Practicing a few words of the language
- Tuning into live streams or virtual tours from key sights such as museums, zoos, historic landmarks and theatres
- Listening to music from that country
- Getting dressed up in special outfits
Plan a virtual African safari, a trip to Italy or a roadtrip through the USA.
3. Start a family Facebook group
Connect your extended family by starting a Facebook group (ensure it is a private group). This is a great place for sharing old photos, family history, reliving memories and connecting with family members you may not have seen for many years, especially people leaving overseas.
If you are unsure how to set up the group, ask your younger family members to help and invite other relatives to join in.
4. Spread Christmas cheer
The lead up to Christmas might not feel quite the same this year, but you can still find ways to celebrate.
- Reminisce: Share with family and friends your best Christmas memories, like the traditions you loved when you were young, or how you used to decorate your home.
- Send Christmas wishes: People love sending and receiving handwritten Christmas cards. Spend some time (physically or virtually) writing and sending cards.
- Change traditions: Think of ways you can update your traditions. For example, you cannot physically attend Christmas mass this year, look for services you can stream online. Or organise a video call for putting up the tree.
- Help with Christmas shopping: Accept friends or families offer to go to the shops to purchase gifts, holiday treats and wrapping paper. If you are separated because of distance ask for help to organise online shopping with home delivery.
- Visit Christmas lights: Driving is a great way to get out while remaining socially distanced from others. If you are able to, hitch a lift to see Christmas lights in your area.
- Be a Santa to a Senior: This year we have partnered with Meals on Wheels Queensland and aged care homes across Australia to send Christmas messages to seniors. Find out how you can get involved here.
- Watch fireworks online: There may not be the usual Christmas and New Year community events you can attend this year, but you can think of other ways to celebrate, like watching previous year’s Sydney fireworks online.
5. Keep up the regular check-ins
Even if you’re growing tired of online video chats (let’s face it some of us are) it’s important to keep in touch with friends and family however you can.
According to Beyond Blue, regular contact can significantly reduce loneliness. So instead of organising a long catch-up every now and then, try to prioritise shorter, regular check-ins.
Some other ways you can stay connected include:
- Check in with neighbours
- Call or send letters to people you know and love
- Connect with other older people to learn how to use technology ( find a service that offers classes, such as the local library or Be Connected)
- Remember the importance of routine, exercise and protecting your mental health, If you have a smartwatch, count your steps and compare your progress with others.
6. Accept an offer of help
No-one wants to feel like a burden on others. But remember, an offer of help is usually coming from a good place and you will be helping another person feel connected and valued.
7. Find new ways to give back
Many older Australians enjoy volunteering, but may not be able to do so at the moment. Here are some tips to find different ways of giving back, to ensure you still feel fulfilled in this aspect of your life.
You could do this by:
- Donating a Christmas gift to a local charity
- Knitting items for a local children’s charity
- Make homemade masks for others
8. Organise a companionship CAREGiver
When family or friends are too far away to offer companionship, a home care service could be the answer. Companionship is important for self-esteem, mental health and maintaining physical wellbeing.
A companionship CAREGiver can…
- Help with hobbies
- Offer company over a meal or even help prepare a meal
- Assist with technology
- Reminisce about days gone by or plan the armchair holiday
- Take you on outings around your local area
This is one of our most important services during the festive season – learn more about companionship care for seniors.