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What to do when you feel lonely

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COVID-19 has significantly changed our way of life, and has increased the amount of people who feel lonely. With many people in lock-down, and schools either cancelling in-class options or lowering the amount of people who can be there at once, it can be very isolating. 

 

Whether you are a student, or you live alone, or maybe you just feel lonely in the place you are in, here are some ways to curb your loneliness during these unusual times:

 

 

  • Find Others to Talk To

 

 

It may seem obvious, but finding others to talk to can really help your loneliness. If you don’t like phone calls, or are unable to meet up with people in person, try an online chat, forum, or website. Bonus points if you make a connection with someone who you can talk to continuously over the course of a few weeks. Having the ability to stay in contact with someone and follow up with them about what you had already talked about can really ground you and make you feel less lonely.

 

 

  • Plan Solo Dates

 

 

It may sound awkward, but plan something special for yourself. Maybe you really just want to have a picnic. You go have that picnic! It doesn’t require you to have more people. Make it special for yourself and pack a book and some fruit and a nice blanket. It’s literally planning a special date where you are the one who is being treated and it can decrease your feelings of loneliness because you are still treating yourself. 

 

 

  • Read

 

 

Reading can be a useful tool to avoid the outside word. It could be fiction, non-fiction, graphic novel, whatever! Immersing yourself in a good book can be extremely useful in spending long periods of time NOT thinking about being lonely. Books are a perfect example of something you can do and enjoy alone, but not feel lonely doing. Plus, it gives you something to talk about the next time you see or hear from someone. 

 

 

  • Plan a Self-Care Night

 

 

Similar to planning a solo date, this is just for you. Bring out those face masks, pull out the nail polish, and pour that bubble bath. Tonight is for you and you alone. Bring a book in the bath with you and you can cross two things off this list! When you are feeling lonely, it can be very easy to stop taking care of yourself. Maybe you live alone, and you don’t feel like showering every day, or treating yourself. Put in that time for yourself and you will definitely feel better. You don’t need someone else to treat you when you know exactly what your needs are. 

 

 

  • Make Your Bed

 

 

Something so small and self-explanatory. Every morning when you wake up, make that bed of yours. Feeling lonely can make you dwell in the comfort of your bed, so you want to make sure that it is as clean as possible for the next time you escape under the covers. 

 

 

  • Stay Active

 

 

You will read it everywhere, but make sure that you are moving your body at least a little bit everyday. There is yoga, there is a park calling your name saying “come walk here”, stretch! Any little thing can help with your mental state and can curb your loneliness, especially if you are in nature and are really appreciating the world around you. Set aside at least 30 minutes to dance to your favorite pump up jam, or whatever you want to do. Just keep that heart rate up and you are golden!

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10 Ways to Be a Positive Light in these Troubled Times

bigstock-Beautiful-Woman-Smiling-In-Nat-354469721 Be the Change!

2020 has felt like one big game of Jumanji that just keeps going. The fires that raged in Australia, the Coronavirus sweeping across the world, floods, riots, it is a lot to handle. 

“2020 will be my year” was the mantra for lots of people on January 1st, and although it seems like a lost cause now, maybe this year can still be your year. The best way to feel happiness is to spread happiness to others - check out these 10 ways to be a positive light during 2020.

 

 

1. Smile

 

“But no one can see me smile behind my mask.” Yes. Yes we can. 

Have you noticed people scurrying past each other, keeping their "phsyical distance" to the point of avoiding eye contact in public places?  

The Covid Culture and words like, "asymptomatic carrier" has created a culture of fear of other people which we need to stop! 

Be the change, lead the revolution - and just smile at a stranger!

Why not be that person who makes someone’s day just by exercising those beautiful face muscles. This could be done when walking past someone, it could be when you are going through a till at the grocery store, or it could even be to the car who stopped beside you at a red light.

If you are worried that smiling is pointless behind a mask, remember that the muscles required to help you smile also move your skin around your nose and eyes, so you can totally see a smile, even with your mouth safely hidden behind your mask. 

 

 

2. Avoid online disputes

 

The wise Ice Cube once said, “check yourself before you wreck yourself.” Continuously remember that the words you are spreading online don’t just sit there in cyberspace. There is someone else, somewhere else, on the other side of the screen reading what you are writing and, depending on what you are posting, it can be extremely harmful. We have also seen a large increase in the amount of people taking part in cancel culture, which can tear another person’s life apart. 

Everyone is allowed and encouraged to have their own opinion, but just remember when you are writing something online, you aren’t writing in a diary. You are writing to billions of people worldwide, and they can be affected by what you are writing. 

 

 

3. Social interaction is important 

 

Humans are social beings, so we need our ‘people time’. This could be through a Skype or Facetime call, going out with friends if your area allows, and even striking up conversations with people when you are out and about. Gaining social interaction is important to your mental health, but it is also important for other’s mental health. 

For example, why not strike up a conversation with the person at the cash register when you get groceries? A lot of people whose jobs are deemed essential get interaction from their coworkers, but it’s always nice to have a pleasant interaction with a customer.

Make pleasant small talk. Or, take a moment to thank them for working during the pandemic. You will make their day 100% percent of the time. 

 

 

4. Support your favorite local businesses

 

During the pandemic a lot of local businesses have been fighting to stay afloat. If they survived the beginning, when everything was closed down, they need your help more than ever. 

If you are a fan of a Food delivery service and your favorite local restaurants are on there, check to see if they have a contribution button. You can also help them get more money by seeing if they offer delivery or takeout without a delivery servcie, that way all the proceeds help them to stay open. 

If you have a membership at a gym, consider keeping your membership active and subscribing to their online offerings, if that's all they can offer, just to be supportive. Got a favorite local store? See what you can do to help them out. Even buying something small could help them reach their daily quota to stay afloat. 

 

 

5. Practice random acts of kindness

 

Random acts of kindness is such a broad idea, but that’s a good thing. There are millions of things that you can do every day to help others and spread kindness. Here are just a few things you can try implementing into your day to cheer others up:

  • Open a door for someone
  • Pay for the person behind you in line when you get coffee
  • Send a cute picture or motivational text to a friend, family member, or coworker
  • If you live with your family, do something for someone else you don’t normally do
  • Donate to charity
  • Your pets deserve some love and kindness too so spend some extra time with them
  • Donate food to food banks or supplies to homeless and women’s shelters

 

 

6. Tune out of the News

 

Have you ever heard the phrase, "if it bleeds, it leads?"

Journalism insiders know this to be a cynical outlook on the way the news media often chooses to highlight tragedies and disasters in the news because it tends to be attention-grabbing.

Covid-19, protests, Antifa, a tense political climate - these are all being broadcast on the news everywhere you turn - the radio, your Facebook feed, television. And for many people, hearing these negative themes over and over again is affecting mental health.

So change your own vibration and tune out - turn off the news and listen to a favourite podcast instead.

Read a book instead of your phone's newsfeed.

Take a social media detox break.

And feel better. Then spread your new, more positive feelings out to the rest of the world!

 

 

7. Change the Subject

 

Building on the above point - just because the media is talking about pandemics and divisive movements all day long, doesn't mean you need to.  

Bring a positive and welcome change to your social and family circles and change the subject. 

Talk about something else!  What are you working on in your personal life right now? What stories from your own life experiences can you share or relive? What are you cooking at home these days?

Your friends and family will have less to debate and more to relate if you introduce some pleasant, positive topics into your conversations, give it a try and enjoy an escape from all the negative energy pushed on us these days!

 

 

8. Practice empathy

 

Just like practicing random acts of kindness, try practicing empathy once a day to help those around you. Here are some examples:

  • If you are stable financially, try supporting others who may not be
  • Don’t overbuy things
  • Take only what you need and allow others to have a share
  • Just like number four says, support your local businesses and encourage others to as well
  • Engaging in helpful acts can increase your empathy and help you to feel socially connected when you are lonely

 

 

9. Be a source of encouragement

 

This goes hand in hand with practicing empathy. Reach out to friends and family and if any of them are lonely, anxious, or depressed, encourage them however possible. Perhaps someone lost their job or they are frustrated with something happening in their life, being there to listen and encourage them can go a long way. 

 

 

10. Help where you can

 

Helping can mean a lot of different things. You can help out at home by cleaning, organizing, making meals, or helping others with work. Maybe your friends need your help, or your coworker. Asking others how you can help can increase your relationship with them and can let them know you care. Maybe your coworker is having a rough day or someone you know received some bad news. See if there is something that you can do to make their day better. 

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How to Make (and KEEP) New Friends as an Adult

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Make friends easily but just can’t keep them? Adult friendships can be as slippery as a wet bar of soap. Everyone has a job, possibly a family and kids, it can be downright stressful and can feel hopeless. Keeping friendships can be easy, though, if you take into account these useful strategies. 

Here are some tips and tricks, taken from Psychology Today about how to make (and keep) friends as adults. As you branch out and attempt to start a new friendship, give this one a try. 

 

Health

Having a solid friendship isn’t just good for your mental health, it’s also good for your physical health. Genuine friendships boost your immune system and lower your blood pressure. Emotionally, they help you lower your risk of depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

While friendship can be very important for your health, make sure that you are also taking the time to be by yourself and reflect. Friendships can be exhausting at times, especially in the digital age where you can contact someone with a voice command from Siri. If you find that you are overwhelmed or that you need to take a break, not from the friendship, but just from excessive communication, let your friend know. They will understand and want what is best for you. 


Community

Friendship isn’t necessarily just a one-on-one relationship. Try expanding your friendships into your neighbourhood, your workplace, places of worship or anywhere that you frequent or take interest in.

Having trouble finding a sense of community during the current pandemic? Try finding an online community that meets to discuss something you have in common! This could be an interest, a religion, or a career. Depending on what you are looking for, there are lots of websites with group chats or profiles where you can talk about the things you have in common. This may fulfill that sense of community you are looking for. 

 


Follow Up

Meeting people isn’t the hardest part about making friends, it’s continuing to grow a relationship. By continuing to speak to your friend, you are showing them that you care about them and that you want to develop your friendship. A good icebreaker that has been around for decades is the 21 questions game. You each go back and forth, asking a question, and you can either both answer the question or just the person you are asking. This leads to a mutual understanding that you want to learn about the other person, and it helps them to feel like you care and that they matter to you. 

Try starting conversations that may be more personal or continuous. 

This may be the most important thing to do during this current pandemic. Many friends lose touch due to the fact that there may be little to no face-to-face interaction. Make sure to check in on friends you haven’t spoken to in a while to let them know you are there for them and that you would love to have a phone call or a zoom call. It can really brighten someone’s day.

 

Little Things

It’s easy to sabotage a friendship before it even really begins. Wanting everything to be perfect maybe what is holding you back from something great. Instead of some impressive gesture, try something simple. This could be a joke of the day or sending a cute picture of your pet or something you found funny that day. These little things make people feel noticed and let them know you listen. 

 

Check out this link for another great article with more information on this topic: 

10 Ways to Make (and Keep) Friendships as an Adult

https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/friendship-20/201605/10-ways-make-and-keep-friendships-adult

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The Newest Ways to Meet Friends Online

The Newest Ways to Meet Friends Online

Our society has changed and evolved from how it used to be, and the Internet has played a major role in this.

When it comes to how we socialize, maintain friendships, and meet new people, our online world has transformed friendships. (More on how maintaining friendships has been affected in another blog post to come!)

Nowadays, especially thanks to the efforts of online dating, meeting someone online has become completely normalized.

From this, we have evolved to accepting a new type of relationship from the online world - making platonic friends online.

Here's our roundup of some of the latest ways to meet new friends online.

 

1. Online Friendship Sites

How it works: Take the concept of online dating, make a few tweaks, and adjust the model for platonic friendship instead. 

Online friendship sites, (like FriendMatch!) take a proven model for meeting new people, and apply it to friends instead of romance. 

Similar to dating sites and apps, you fill out a profile online first.

Then you can browse profiles of other members, but instead of filtering by physical attributes, you will be filtering your search by other options such as location, age, hobbies, and interests.

To start a new friendship, just like with dating you must start by sending a message to those members you are interested in.

Besides FriendMatch, other friendship sites include BumbleBFF, Girlfriend Circles (women only), and Peanut.

Pros: 

  • Meet new people with confidence. Unlike any other methods in this article, you can confidently message members on these sites and apps, knowing that every member registered is looking to meet new friends.
  • Easy, familiar setup: Simply browse profiles and send messages to those who you think you might click with.
  • Low cost. Unlike dating sites, many friendship sites are much less expensive to use, if not free. (FriendMatch is free to use, with an upgraded option that lets you send more messages daily.)
  • With a dating site, once you have successfully met a match, you're done! But with friendship sites, there is no limit to how many friends you can make.
  • You can make new friends nearby, locally that you can meet in person, or you can make online-only friendships if you are just looking for someone to talk to.

Cons:

  • Just like with online dating, you might not meet your bff instantly. It takes time and sometimes patience, sometimes many messages and meetups to find the person you will click with. But hang in there, because the right friend is worth the effort!
  • Just like any social network or dating network, you might be approached by people you are not interested in getting to know. You have the option to ignore these requests, respond with your non-interest, or block the members on most sites and apps.

 

2. Blogging

Nowadays, another way that some people are making new friendships online is through blogging!

How it works: Whether you are a blogger yourself, or a fan of someone else's blog, real friendships are made through blogging platforms. 

There are thousands of blogs and bloggers out there to choose from, one for every interest. Many bloggers share information about their interests, or even their daily life. You might follow a blog because the blogger has many things in common with yourself, and you enjoy following their story.

Friendships can happen through blogs when you start connecting with each other, often through the comments section first. 

In some cases, one blogger will comment frequently on a blog post, and sometimes through this, commonalities are found, and sometimes connections are formed. This leads to direct messaging, which leads to a deeper connection.

Some bloggers have different meet and greet events, where these friendships can move from online to offline, or sometimes some comments lead to other forms of messaging if a connection is made, which leads to friendship, either online only or offline. 

Pros:

  • When bloggers connect with each other, through their posts it can feel like you have already gotten to know each other, and already know which things you have in common.
  • Blogging can be deceptively lonely - while bloggers share highlights from their lives, being a blogger is still a unique position to hold that local friends and family will not always completley understand, so it can be really refreshing to meet with fellow bloggers who understand this way of life.

Cons:

  • Unlike with friendship sites and apps, you can't always be certain that the blogger you love to follow is actually interested in meeting new friends, so it's best to build a friendship more slowly via this route.
  • If you don't have a blog yourself, it might be harder to connect with a blogger you feel would make a great friend for you, because even if you share details about yourself in supportive comments on their blog posts, the blogger might categorize you as a fan and not a friend.

 

3. Discussion Forums and Facebook Groups

Zero waste groups and forums, vegan groups, keto groups, professional groups, pregnancy and new mom groups - there is a niche online discussion forum or Facebook group for just about every hobby or interest out there!

How it works: Start by joining a group that matches up with your interests. Here, in this group, you will find and connect with other people who share the same interests as you. You don't need to jump into narrowing down a new friend right away, but start by just participating in the discussions. Eventually, you might find that you connect with some members really well, or have more things in common with them, or perhaps live nearby them.

There are two ways to find new friends from these groups:

1) Occasionally these groups will host offline meetups and events, when you attend you might just meet some new, like-minded friends. 

2) You can also send a direct message to someone you feel you have a connection with, starting with a deeper conversation, and from there perhaps moving on to a platonic online friendship, or even meeting up for an offline, traditional friendship.

Pros:

  • No need for searching profiles - you already have things in common with the people in these groups.
  • Hosted group events offline give you the chance to meet new friends.

Cons:

  • Similar to the other methods in this article, you can't be certain that the people you would like to become friends with are actively seeking new friendships.
  • Group events and meetups can be intimidating to go to alone.

 

4. Instagram

Similar to blogging, friendships are now being formed right off Instagram!  Through Instagram, people often share lots of information about themselves, their lifestyle, their goals.  From this, you might start to feel like you know which people you have lots in common with, or which people you might like to get to know.

How it works: If you think someone you follow on Instagram would also make a nice addition to your social circle, start by getting to know them through Instagram. Leave comments on their posts, or reply to their Instagram stories. 

You can take it step further by sending a direct message and introducing yourself. Slowly, over time and many messages, comments back and forth, you might start getting to know each other better. From here, you have the option to suggest meeting up sometime to hang out, or just keep it as an online friendship.

Pros:

  • You can go slow with meeting new friends on Instagram - if you feel like the friend-chemistry isn't working, it's easy to back out.

Cons:

  • No certainty that the person you know on Instagram is actually looking to make new friends.

 

5. Online Classifieds Sites 

Remember, way before the Internet days, when people used to place romance ads in the newspaper classifieds? This is still happening!

How it works: Now people are usingCraigslist, Kijiji, Angie's List, even newspaper online classifieds in their search not just for romantic relationships, but for friendships!  People are now posting ads that introduce themselves, and describe what kind of friends they are seeking, in a creative way to find new friends locally.

Pros:

  • You can approach with confidence - those who are posting these ads are looking for new friendships.

Cons:

  • Lots of scrolling - since online classifieds sites are not designed for friendship seeking, it's not easy to filter by things like age, gender, location, and interests, as you can with friendship websites and apps.

 

6. Meetup

Meetup has been around for awhile, and the concept is that groups of people host offline group encounters as a chance to go out, socialize, and meet new people.

Pros:

  • No planning required, just show up!

Cons:

  • Going out in a group style by yourself can be intimidating.
  • Not really designed for 1 on 1 friendships.

 

There you have it! Our list of some of the modern ways to find new friendship online. 

Did we miss any ideas? Please share in the comments below!

 

 

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Australia to NYC: Making new friends as an adult

Australia to NYC: Making new friends as an adult

Recently, I moved from Australia to New York City. It was, and still is, incredibly scary and challenging. While I knew a handful of people, they were scattered between Manhattan and New Jersey, and most were friends of a friend- not my own connections. I didn’t want to pity-invited along to any event. In a city  of 8 million people, it doesn’t seem like it would be difficult to find, and make, friends but it was, and it wasn’t long before I started to feel a little bit isolated and consider a life where my only friends in the city would be the raccoons in Central Park.

Raccoons, and possible rabies, aside, I knew I had to do something about this feeling of disconnect from society, or I’d end up a lonely spinster in arguably one of the greatest cities in the world, known for its vivid social scene.

 

So I got to work. Thinking about how I’d made friends in my previous, Australian life, it dawned on me that not all of my best and closest friendships had been formed at school or work places- the two places I assumed were the time-honoured friend-making scenes. So, I put together a list of ways  to meet great friends in my new city.  Here are some things that worked for me:

 

Meetups

I discovered that going along to meet ups for something you’re interested in or passionate about is a great way to meet people. Not only are you mingling with other living, breathing hominids, but you’re also meeting people with similar interests to you, and because you have an inbuilt convo starter, you don’t need to make small talk about the local sports team or the unseasonable weather we’ve been having lately.

 

Book or Movie Review Clubs

Similar to meet ups, a book club or movie review club is a great way to meet people because you’re forced to not be a wallflower and to participate in the conversation. Maybe you’ll find your next bestie after you both give 50 Shades of Grey withering reviews, and bond over your shared highlighting of all the naughty parts in the book- (the only parts worth reading). The other benefit to making friends at things like this is that you’re still keeping up with your passions and hobbies. You get to keep your interests and make friends.

 

Helping people

Take a look around you, is someone struggling with a map or a Metrocard? Give them a hand. It won’t take much time and maybe you’re catching the same train, so you’ll have some time to chat.

This is exactly how I made a friend from Boston, after witnessing him struggle with the ticketing machine and offering my assistance.

Even if you don’t make a lifelong friend, you’ll feel good for helping someone and you’ll become well-practiced at approaching people, and with this comes confidence- good practice for more new friends!

 

Co-working spaces

I use a co-working space and I witnessed the blossoming of a new friendship right before my eyes recently.

Dan was casually working away at a desk in an open spaced area shared with others when Al, the eagle eye, spots some kind of gaming-card deck, the name of which is unknown to me, and asks Dan if he can “check out his deck”. Dan responds in the positive and the next twenty minutes they were dedicated to talking about the game, the styles they played and where. At the end of this brief encounter, the pair were Facebook friends and making plans to hook up to play said game in the future. While I wouldn’t advocate laying out a token of all the things you’re interested in like a weird, religious shrine for others to see and remark upon, open planned spaces encourage and foster these kinds of interactions and I have found them to be a good way to meet people.

 

Internet dating

I once met a group of guys out one night on the roller derby scene and as the night progressed, my best friend and I hung out with them more and more and we bonded quite quickly. Drunkenly insisting one of our new found pals couldn’t possibly make the late night commute to his home- in another town an hour away, we forced the poor guy to spend the night on our too-small couch. Waking in the morning to see he’d since left but had neatly folded his sheets and blankets, placing them on said couch, and hadn’t made off with our TV, made us think he was an ok guy. Later on in the day, I’m flicking through potential suitors online and see someone who looks awfully familiar to our new found friend- we were a match! We thought this pretty funny and laughed ourselves silly and then we forced him to move in with us and we’ve been great friends ever since. While we were never romantic, as the site had intended in pairing us up, that person is now one of my best friends, and I’ve met other friends through him. So while internet dating can be , it’s not entirely unreasonable to use it to make friends.

A tip - while you may be tempted to invent romantic scenarios with this new person, or people, in your head- don’t. It isn’t that actively dating someone is a bad way of meeting friends, but you want your own friends and not temporary friends you’ll have to give up if the relationship doesn’t last. So you may have to sacrifice one hottie, and the relationship potential they have, in order to make, and remain, friends. .

 

So while it may seem daunting and an impossible task, it isn’t always doom and gloom when it comes to making friends as an adult. I hope this list has inspired you to look outside the box when it comes to making new friends. What did you think of this list? Have you tried any of these things? 

 

About Jamie-lee Owen

Jamie-lee Owen is a writer and raccoon lover. More of her work can be found at jleeowen.com

 

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11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

11 ways to avoid Christmas when you're feeling down

 

It's the most wonderful time of the year!

Unless you are suffering at Christmastime, in which case you might want to jam stockings up your ears to avoid hearing one more overly-joyful overly-played holiday jingle!

The reality is that Christmas can be hard for some people. Really hard.

Anna and John Wilkins have not celebrated Christmas in years. After their daughter was suddenly killed in a car crash one year, the season of merriment has not yet appealed to the couple. 

"All those meaningful family traditions we had have just become painful reminders of Susie, and of everything that we have lost and missed since we lost her," explains Anna, who along with her husband, no longer puts up decorations, and actively avoids the holiday.

 Mourning the loss of a family member or friend can make the forced-cheerfulness and consumerism of the holiday season feel especially empty and meaningless.

There are other reasons for feeling sad at Christmas too.  Any struggle is amplified at Christmas, and add to that shorter days and a higher rate of Seasonal Affected Disorder, and things only get worse.

Whether it's a breakup, you're living alone in a new city, or if you are facing a struggle with a disease like cancer, advertisements that are constantly showing us happy scenes of perfect families can sometimes only show us what we are missing and enhance the pain from the season.

Even people without extraordinary struggles can feel worse at Christmas - sometimes money is tight, and with the super-high expectations of gifts, food, alcohol, and attending events demanding all these things, the cash-strapped can feel especially poor in a season of plenty.

Sometimes rebelling against a "traditional" Christmas is just the thing to do. 

 

 

If you must stay home

 

 

Listen to talk radio or a podcast

Radio has been described as one of the most personal forms of media. 

Even in today's modern Internet era, this is still true.

On a radio talk show or a good podcast. the host speaks directly to you. 

Radio programmers know that their listeners are usually listening alone, and the result is an intimate experience where you might feel comfortable and familiar with some of your favourite hosts, as if they are dear friends. 

A good radio show or podcast can be good company and good entertainment at the same time - a nice distraction from Christmas!

With podcasts, you can listen to entire marathons of your favourite programs, so if you are up all night, at least you are in good company!

Some great podcasts to try:

The NoSleep Podcast If you like horror fiction and radio drama, you will love this podcast! Short horror stories produced and narrated in a dramatic style - so much fun!

Myths and Legends Like most podcasts, you can listen to this one in any order. Learn the original versions of folk and fairy tales like Cinderella and King Arthur from narrator Jason who relays the stories with a dry and slightly sarcastic wit that is most entertaining while also being handy for conversation starters.

 

Take a walk or a hike

Look at the Christmas lights. Create background stories for the scenes you come across - the families rushing off laden with gifts and food, the happy reunions.

Hint - A casual glance towards a home's happy-window-Christmas-scene, with its lit-up tree and jammed full of revelers as you walk by is okay.  Try to avoid standing in front of any houses and staring straight into the window though, no matter how interesting the back story appears to be!

However, if peeking into many worlds of family togetherness is distressing and not amusing, skip the neighbourhood walk and go to a park or nature area instead.

Adopt a pet, a furry friend who is also lonely this Christmas.

Give it the best day ever. Take it on your winter walk. Feed him treats. If you can't commit to adopting a pet, there are many shelters who are desperately seeking "foster" parents - so foster a dog or cat for awhile.  They make great company!

Do a puzzle

If your mind is distressed, sometimes it can help to focus on an engaging task. 

Celebrate the way people of other faiths do..

Enjoy a nice meal at a Chinese restaurant.  Catch a movie a the theatres. (No one will see you alone in the dark theatre!)

Pull an Ebeneezer Scrooge (post-ghostly visits)

Spread joy to any less-fortunate souls you see that day. Load up some coffee gift cards, pack paper bags with treats, and offer them to anyone you see, who looks like they are having a worse Christmas than you.

Read to seniors

Many seniors living in these places have a lonely Christmas - sometimes they are not able to leave the care of their institution, and so they are without their families. Many of these seniors have lost many friends, maybe their spouse, and family members.

But you can still bring a little kindness into a senior's holiday. a nice old fashioned Christmas story.

Yes, it's festive, but giving kindness to someone lonely might just give you that needed feeling of classic joy this Christmas!

Make arrangements with a hospice, personal care home, or retirement village. Choose a classic novel or an old-fashioned book with a historic storyline that might bring a senior back to a simpler time that they might remember fondly. 

Many seniors, besides having a lonelier holiday than many, also have long given up hope for reading books. Vision loss and decreased mobility make it hard to turn pages and read. 

But stories are special, calming, and entertaining!  You can read to a senior one-on-one, or make arrangements for a microphone, and arrange with the care home staff to give a reading to a crowd on Christmas.

One great book choice for seniors? Try Christmas with Anne and other Stories, a wonderful Canadian collection of festive short stories set in the early 1900s. 

Use FriendMatch to connect with a new friend

Come onto FriendMatch and find someone else in the world who feels the same way you do.

 

If you can escape your town

 

Sometimes the easiest way to avoid your troubles is to just run away from them! 

Okay, that might not be the most responsible statement, but sometimes a temporary but instant solution is simply needed.  And December 24 is one of the cheapest days for air travel!

Here are some ideas for how to escape whatever is bothering you this Christmas:

 

Go Skiiing

Picture it; the pristine Canadian Rockies, fresh, sparkly powdery snow, the lifts are running, and they are drastically less busy than they will be in a few weeks. 

Christmas is the perfect season for skiing, and everyone has their favourite ski destination. 

Sure, you'll see a lot of snow and Christmas trees, but that doesn't mean you can't spend the whole day on the glorious mountain, and enjoy the frostiest beers and whatever meal you like in front of a warm fire apres-ski.

 

Go to the Beach

 

One year, Peter's wife left him right before the holoidays.

He was devastated, "I couldn't stand all the "merry this" and "good cheer" that when I felt so hearbroken, I had to get away.  And more than that, I didn't want to face my entire extended family at our usual gatherings and explain what had happened. I still didn't understand it myself!"

On a whim, Peter booked himself a week at a resort in Mexico.

Now married again, Peter and his wife spend every second Christmas away from home.

"Travelling at Christmas has become a new tradition to look forward to. We always go somewhere new and exciting, and we take advantage of great airfare and resort prices before the rush!"

It's even easier to forget about Christmas when you are sitting under a hot sun, drinking a margarita and reading a new book, (Self-care!) or snorkeling...

..or whatever you love to do when all your responsibilities are waiting patiently for you at home.

It can also be much cheaper to travel to a hot destination like Mexico for Christmas time - after the holidays, the rates for sun holidays go straight up.

 

 

Head to a city with Great Nightlife

If you want to be alone, but you don't want to feel alone, a good solution is to spend Christmas in a buzzing party city.  

Head to Miami for tons of culture, and a perhaps slightly toned-down version of a vibrant nightlife - in some places in the world, the streets are filled with music, art, and people - all kinds of interesting characters - to keep you company.  Grab a seat on Ocean avenue, order an iced coffee or a cuba libre and soak up the energy as you people-watch.

Other options of this sort include the French Quarter in New Orleans, Reykjavik in Iceland, and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

 

 

 

 

 

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Are Married People Lonelier than Single People?

Are Married People Lonelier than Single People?

 

A recent study published in The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships examined the relationships with friends, neighbors, and extended family members, and compared the connections that single people had versus married couples. 

They found that on average, single people spend more time connecting with friends, neighbors, and relatives than married people.

Single people are more likely to give help to, receive help from, and stay in touch with siblings, friends, parents and neighbors than those who are married.

In fact, even if someone has a divorce, they will still spend less time with friends and neighbors, suggesting that the effects of a less social lifestyle can last beyond marriage.

(And maybe we should all be reaching out to our friends who have just gone through a divorce - they might need the company more than they know!)

The study results were able to rule out other factors, like age, kids, education, and income.

So why are married couples so antisocial?

The authors of the study have a few ideas:

  •  People believe that their husband/wife is their soulmate, and should fulfill all social needs
  • Single people may need to make more effort to fulfill their social needs since there is no one to socialize with at home
  • Another theory? Maybe this is another one we can blame on our busy, modern society!

Married people might feel that by the time work/volunteering/the gym/whatever is caught up with (which is never), there is barely time left over to put into a good marriage relationship.

What do you think?

To see the study, check out this link:

http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0265407515597564

 

If you are married, and worried that you are socializing enough, The Newlywed Handbook (written by the editors of www.thenest.com), has some advice about double dating for married couples:

 

Turn friendly casual friends into new couple friends 

Do you know any cool couples who might be fun to hang out with? These could be friends-of-friends, friends from work, or volunteering, or even neighbors. 

See how you all might enjoy hanging out by starting with a fun activity that gives you lots to talk about, like an "Escape Room", or a ghost tour, or a Teppanyaki - style Japanese restaurant.

Make sure both genders enjoy the company

At first, either the girls or the guys will dominate the conversations and planning - likely the person who set up the connection. But with a bit of effort, you can all enjoy good bonds with new friends at the same time.

The group time will be more satisfying if the girls and the guys get along great - so if the husbands know each other through work, the ladies should eventually make an effort to email each other, and meet for lunch or coffee without the guys too.

Expand your group again!

Four people at a dinner party is great! Three couples is even more fun! If you get four couples - eight people - now you can use your full dishes set from your registry! 

 

Are married people lonelier than single people

 

Make sure to check out our other blog post, "Social tips for Couples"!

 

Do you think married people are lonelier than single people?

 

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Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

 Simple Ways to be a Good Neighbour

There is a known rule in the community-building playbook, "Start with Petunias".

If you want to transform your neighbourhood into the kind of thriving, safe, attractive, and pleasant community, it's best to start small. Plant flowers. 
Here are seven more small, simple things you can do to make your neighbourhood amazing:

 

1. Spend More Time in Your Front Yard or Front Step  

Jay Walljasper, in his book, "The Great Neighborhood Book", describes sitting on your front stoop a

"great city pastime that has become endangered", and notes that some historians feel that when we spend more time in the backyards, instead of our front yards, we are decreasing our connection with our neighbours. 

What are some ways to pass time in our front porch or steps? Watch the world go by, read the newspaper, have a beer, and wave at your neighbours! 

 

2. Go for Neighbourhood Walks  

You know that quote about how showing up is 99% of the effort you must put in? By strolling your neighbourhood, you are showing up, and that does a lot.

Not only is this good for your health, but it's good for the health of your community. When a community has locals taking regular walks, it is like having a neighbourhood patrol. An active and engaged neighbourhood is a neighbourhood that is monitored and safe - criminals usually prefer to go somewhere more quiet and deserted looking. 

 

3. Welcome New Neighbours

An old-fashioned tradition worth reviving! Drop by with a basket of muffins and introduce yourself.  Share helpful information about the neighbourhood. 

 

4. Celebrate Holidays and Seasons  

It's easy to get caught up in the chaos of everyday life, but the holidays and seasons are a good chance to be thoughtful and to brighten your community. 

The Great Neighborhood Book has many suggestions for ways to embrace the holidays and seasons; 

  • Swap seedlings from your garden in the spring
  • Organize a special trick-or-treat experience for the children at Halloween
  • Coordinate Christmas decorations around the block with your neighbours - make ice lanterns, or decorate all the lamp posts.  
  • Organize a caroling night complete with cookies and cocoa after.
  • Make note of #5! 

 

5. Give Small Gifts  

Gifts for neighbours do not have to be elaborate but they are so rewarding to give! 

A basket of extra tomatoes from your garden will surely be appreciated by your neighbour who doesn't keep a garden.  Use your big snowblower to do your elderly neighbour's walkway. A box of homemade cookies. An offer to collect mail while your neighbour is on vacation.

Everyone has a gift to give. 

Be thoughtful with small gifts, and don't be surprised when you start receiving surprises and gifts too!

 

6. Take Your Kids to the Park  

It's another tried and true, old-fashioned action. Why mess with success? 

And if your neighbourhood park isn't that great... developing one might be a great project to pull together the community! 

 

7. Make it Great for Pets

Some green space, a safe walking path, a community water dish - according to Walljasper, a dog-friendly neighbourhood will have dog-walkers out at all hours. This is a wonderful way to prevent crime and meet new people.

 

 

 

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Tips and Ideas for an Amazing Holiday Vacation with Friends

Tips and Ideas for an Amazing Holiday Vacation with Friends

Group trip? Consider renting an amazing house

There are some beautiful dream homes on Airbnb, and through other services such as Luxuryretreats.com, and dreamexoticrentals.com, you can rent an amazing mansion in a beautiful travel destination.

Once you split the cost among a group of friends, it can be very comparable to staying in a hotel or all-inclusive resort - sometimes it's even a much better value.

In some rentals, like this house rental that sleeps 24 and is priced between $1,500 - $5,940 per night, there is even a private chef included!

 

See the rest of this listing here: http://www.luxuryretreats.com/vacation-rentals/mexico/riviera-maya/soliman-bay/hacienda-caracol-111850 

 

Remember to take some good group photos

You don't have to do this for every meal, activity, or even day, but try to put aside a bit of time to take a couple of group photos, with everyone in the shot!  You will treasure these photos for years after your vacation. 

Or, just post them on Instagram, whatever makes you happy.

 

 

 

Don't do Everything Together on vacation

Whether you are a group of friends or a group of couple friends, it's important to put aside time for people to do their own activities and to get some time for themselves. 

This gives everyone a chance to rest for the next adventure!  Some friends might prefer to take a nap in the day, while another friend might prefer time to do a workout.

Couples who are vacationing with friends might appreciate a romantic dinner or excursion on their own once or twice.  If you mix up group and solo activities, everyone can spend their vacation doing what they love.

 Plus, if you are all together every second, you might run out of new things to talk about!  

As a recent article in Forbes online put it, "Not every activity needs to be a group activity." 

 

If you don't want to do an activity on vacation - skip it!

This is a bit like the above point, but it's important for group harmony.

If you would rather sit by the pool than go to an art gallery, let your friends know you'll catch up at dinner. You'll be better company if you are happy and relaxed than dragging your feet!

 

 

 

 

Have a planning meeting before the trip

Planning a trip is part of the fun! Meet before the trip to talk broadly about what kind of vacation everyone is hoping for. This will really help to make sure that everyone can get the kind of vacation that they want.

Maybe one friend wants to spend a good chunk of time sitting on the beach, while another wants to explore and sight-see. Talking about it ahead means no surprises while travelling!

You can also make the larger decisions about the trip while together in person to discuss it, ideally.

 

Talk about money before the trip

Because who wants to talk about money while on vacation? For ultimate harmony, Sonia Prades in an interview for Hindustan Times suggests that you work out a fair split of the major expenses; accommodation, transportation, and groceries.  

Other expenses, such as entertainment, drinks, and restaurants, should be individual expenses, not group expenses.

Keeping friends is easy when you don't split every cheque!

 

One more thing about Money and other details ..

Don't worry, be happy!  Tell yourself that anytime you feel a bit annoyed that one friend seems to tip less, or eat more, or whatever annoying quirks..  Just remind yourself that you're on vacation, so you will not let little things bug you!

If you don't like a behaviour of one of your travel companions, just be the bigger person and lead by positive example!

Be the friend you want to have - and that includes extra patience sometimes!

 

 

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Yearly social calendar for couples

Yearly social calendar for couples

Do you know that problem you have as a couple where you just can't find something to watch on Netflix?

Wait a minute!  Maybe it's time to call up some mutual friends and go out! (With any luck, your friends will have some suggestions for new shows to watch..)

If you're wondering what a healthy, active and fun-filled social life might look like for a married couple, here is an infographic that can help you plan your free time and social life as a couple. 

What do you think of this schedule? Is it realistic for you?  Chime in below!

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How to be social and meet friends..when you work for yourself or from home

How to be social and meet friends..when you work for yourself or from home

 

All types of people are choosing to be their own boss, and reaping many benefits.

I'm sure there is a lot of "office life" that these professionals do not miss- the grumpy boss, the strict hours, the politics.

But working at a company does offer one big perk- the chance to meet lots of people and make friends.

If you are self-employed, here are some tips to keep networking, making new connections, and meeting friends and new people.

 

Network within your industry

Join a networking group.  All kinds of industries have these networking groups, from the Canadian Public Relations Society for people in PR to the AIGA for graphic designers in America with 67 chapters across the country, to the ISPA organization that brings together people in the Internet industry in the UK, there's something for everyone!

These groups normally cost a small, tax deductible fee for membership, which will make you part of a community of professionals in your industry.  They often host networking events and workshops, great for business growth, networking, and meeting with other professionals like yourself!

 

Attend trade shows with business cards, conversation topics, and a positive attitude

Make it a goal to network with one person each week, meet for a coffee or lunch and talk about work, compare notes, or learn how to help each other

Host your own networking event.  For example, throw a drop-in holiday party for others in your industry, both clients and competition



Participate in Learning Opportunities

Sign up for a class that can give you new skills in your work, e.g. accounting, or presentations

 Join skills groups such as Toastmasters, a very social organization that helps you to build public speaking confidence, and also hosts conferences

Subscribe to news feeds from local organizations that support entrepreneurs in the community, for example the Women's Entrerepise Network, which regularly hosts workshops and networking events for entrepreneurs



Work out of a Shared Co-op workspace instead of home

These office buildings bring entrepreneurs together, allowing you to rent a cubicle and share the services of an administrative assistant, working alongside other self-employed business people



Be Charitable

The networking trick that keeps on giving, find something that inspires you and give back some time by becoming a volunteer!

I know someone who is a contractor, but would volunteer to be the bbq-er at an annual women's sports tournament, it was a great opportunity to have lots of conversations, show off his competence (he always ended up doing some kind of handy man thing, like help to set up a tent, or fix a sign), and spread the word about his services in a fun environment.

 

 

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5 ways to Meet New People when you move

5 ways to Meet New People when you move

 

You've got your new house, your new driver's licence, your new job. But your real estate agent probably didn't help you to make new friends from your new neighborhood!  If you are wondering how to meet new people after you move- or maybe you didn't move, but you'd still like to expand your social network- here are a couple of ideas!



Volunteer for something you care about
This is a great way to meet new people.  As a bonus, the people you meet here probably care about the same things you do, making a great spark for a friendship. There are all kinds of volunteering opportunities out there, at animal shelters, working with seniors, neighborhood beautification committees, coaching sports, planning fundraising events, there are almost as many opportunities as interests so it's easy to find something that you might enjoy!

 
Get a Part-Time Job
Maybe you don't need a job. Well, you can always lose the job and keep the friends you make there! Sometimes serving tables or pumping gas can be a handy way to make new friends, as you bond with coworkers and meet people in the neighborhood without worrying about office politics or taking work home with you.  (BTW, this is the only idea of the five that actually pays you money.)

Join a Community Class
If you are a new parent you could try a "Mommy and me" class to meet other new parents- there is a strong chance that other people will be there solo as well, and you'll already have something in common.  Or take a zumba class and have a laugh while you bond over the shared experience.  Try a painting class and meet other aspiring artists.  A chance to learn something and meet people at the same time!

Start walking or jogging around your new neighborhood
By walking around, not only will you familiarize yourself with your new neighborhood, but you can also observe who else is in the community.  Go frequently and you might start passing by your neighbors, noting which ones are similar to you in age, or in interests.  If  you pass some neighbors frequently, it is only a matter of time before you become familiar to each other, and then the next step is getting to know each other!

Join a Sports Team
It doesn't have to be serious or competitive. Casual or "beer" leagues exist for all age groups and all levels of experience.  Today's "soccer mom" might be defined as a woman who plays soccer, as in some places participation in women over 35 is rising rapidly.  Baseball beer leagues are always looking for more players, both men and women.  It's fun, and it is a chance to meet a whole team of potential new friends!


Have you found an effective way to meet new people? Please share in the comments below!

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Lessons in Friendship Learned from The Sims

Lessons in Friendship Learned from The Sims

 

One thing that can be said about The Sims, the game did put a lot of value on friendship!

Friendship has always been a powerful tool in The Sims, and to do well in its simulated life, a Sim should pursue new friendships and maintain old ones. When this happened, a Sim's career, health, and happiness all did better! 

Some more tips learned from The Sims:

 

Friends and Fun are as important as Eating and Sleeping.

Yup, when maintaining your sims health and happiness, the bar that measured input for fun and social activities carried as much weight as the bar that measured if your sim was hungry, tired, or had to go to the bathroom. 

With recent studies coming out to show that good friendships actually do make people live longer, healthier, happier lives, they must have been on to something!

 

 

Friendships are like plants; if you don't water them, they die.

Ah, the poetry of The Sims.  Through metaphors, we were taught that we must work actively to maintain our friendships - that means calls, visits, and good quality time.  It's a simple formula, but still probably more effective than just liking your buddie's Facebook posts..

 

 

It's nice to share gifts sometimes.

Remember when your sim would get a visit from a friend, and that friend would coming bearing a small gift, like a plant or some chocolates?  That gift was always happily received!

While the Sims were at one time pretty traditional in their gifts, there are so many small gifts we can bring when visiting our friends - some fresh produce from your garden, in a little basket, a batch of homemade cookies, a funny souvenir from your vacation - surprise and delight your real-life friends with small gifts from time to time, and you, too, can be a good friend like your old sim neighbours and friends!

 

Your friends can help you reach your career goals.

In the Sims, to get that next promotion, there was always a friends requirement. (Unless you had a good cheat code.)

In real life, friends can help you with your career too - they can help you find a job, volunteer for your company event, or just be there to listen to you complain about your boss.  

 

That can't be all of them!

What did I miss? Comment below!

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Meet New People

Find out how FriendMatch is helping people to make new friends

How does FRIENDMATCH Help Me Make New Friends?

FriendMatch is an online service to help you meet new people from your neighborhood or from around the world.

Types of Friends: Exercise partners, couple friends, new parents groups, book clubs, dinner party clubs, just someone to have coffee with and talk about life…etc.


What DO I have to do?

Sign up for free. 

Use our search tools to find new friends.  Search by age, gender, location, interests, or just by keyword.

Send a message and introduce yourself to people you’d like to get to know better, and then take your friendship from there!

We provide tips and tools to help you keep in touch with your friends- a blog with inspirational friendship stories and tips, speed-friending networking events - because life is busy and we want to help!

Click here to sign up to FriendMatch for free and start making new, real friends, from nearby or from around the world

(Like online dating, but for friends instead of dates!)