My shrink is always encouraging me to socialize in some form or another and she’s full of ideas as to activities I can participate in. I always nod politely and file the information away in the “not a chance” bin. But she’s right about how beneficial it could be for me. In their article “Being a Good Friend Keeps You Young” by doctors Mehmet C. Oz and Michael F. Roizen (sorry, I have lost the link), the “YOU Docs” tell us that “socializing and laughing it up with best buds can cut your odds for memory loss in half, as well as make you twice as likely to avoid disabilities that could seriously cramp your late-life style (like not being able to dress or bathe yourself).” And of course it helps combat depression.
So what can we do to get ourselves out and about? Suggestions include joining special interest clubs (books, remote control aircraft, chess, yachting… you name it, there’s probably a club for it); volunteering (hospitals, homeless shelters, schools, animal shelters…); participating in religious group activities; hanging out with friends and family (go to coffee, a movie, bowling, walks in the park…); physical activities (yoga classes, CrossFit, hiking groups, shooting hoops at the community center…). You get the idea.
Go at your own pace. If you’re not a social butterfly, don’t force it. Start slowly with low-key activities shared with those you are most comfortable being around. My shrink assures me that it gets easier the more we put ourselves out there.
So dinner tonight is a start for me. I doubt I’ll be the “life of the party,” but I also doubt that I will commit any catastrophic social gaffes. If I do, I imagine my friends will forgive me. After all, that’s what friends are for.
Wish me luck.