A staggering 28% of adults in the US over the age of 65 live alone. In recent years, a substantial amount of research has found on isolation in our later years increases the risk of adverse health events. Older adults who feel isolated are more likely to develop chronic disease, depression, and dementia. Isolation also increases the risk of mortality.
On a similar note, one of the most common concerns I hear from clients in the clinic is the lack of social support in reaching their health goals. They express that it’s difficult to make healthier choices because of others around them, or a lack of people around them. It’s hard to get friends and family members on board while changing to health-conscious habits. It’s also more difficult to make healthier choices when you’re feeling alone.
As Jim Rohn famously said, “You are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.” Therefore, if you want a healthier life, seek out healthier people. The people you spend time with directly influence the choices you make. Structure your life to make it easier to make choices that healthy people would make.
Assess Your Current Relationships
One powerful way to live a healthier life is to surround yourself with like-minded people. On one hand, there will always be some relationships in your life you can’t change. And when someone is resistant to supporting you in your journey toward better health, it helps to remember this is usually coming from a place of insecurity about their own choices.
When adopting new habits, it’s easy to be overzealous, wanting to get everyone around you on the bandwagon too. So avoid preaching about your healthy choices to those around you. Instead, set an example and wait for them to ask questions before giving your input.
Then take a closer look at some of the relationships in your life. You’re much more likely to give up on new habits if you aren’t around like-minded people. It’s much harder to be the “different” one in any group of people.
This isn’t to say that you need to cut off every relationship in your life if they don’t have the same habits you do, but all of your relationships are worth exploring.
Are they contributing to your health and well-being or preventing you from reaching your goals? Ask yourself if the people you spend your time with build you up or tear you down. If you realize you have relationships with people who bring you down, it’s not likely happening intentionally. Take a moment to try to understand the motives of someone like this in your life.
The first step is to have an honest conversation with the important people in your life. Let them know what new habits you are adopting and why. Explain to them how they can be supportive and make your feelings known if they aren’t.
To further enhance your life, find new groups of people to give you the support you need. By exploring your community, you can find your tribe. People who really get you and who will continue to support you on your journey.
Tips to find your tribe:
1. Find or start a local walking group
It’s easier for a lot of us to keep up a habit if we have others to hold us accountable. See if you can recruit a few friends to walk with you on certain days per week. It makes your activities more enjoyable to do with companions anyway. If you don’t already have people in your life who would be willing to do this, start your own local walking group. This can also be a great way to establish new relationships with like-minded individuals.
2. Find local fitness classes and support groups
Research local fitness classes or support groups based on your interests. Similar to the above tip, it’s easier to show up and stay accountable when it’s a scheduled class with people expecting you to show up. Try a few different classes to see which ones fit you best.
3. Seek out online communities
While online connections can’t replace our need for human contact and interaction they can be a great place to share motivation and support with other like-minded individuals. For anything you might be interested in, there is a community that exists for it.
4. Podcasts, Books, and Resources
Another great way to adopt new ideas and habits is to keep learning. Listening to podcasts or audiobooks can help keep you in the right mindset and stay motivated as you establish and maintain healthy habits. The options to learn from individuals with the same sets of values are endless. This is one of the best ways to keep yourself focused on learning, growing, and changing.
Surrounding yourself with the right people takes time and effort, but can be one of the most important health decision you make. What can you do today to find your tribe?