by Karen Goldsum, LPC-Intern; LMFT-Associate
Moving can be hard. I have met many people both in couples and individuals who moved to Austin expecting an amazing time and left feeling disappointed. Everyday there are 120 people moving to the greater Austin area. And yet, I hear over and over again from clients how they find Austin to be a cold and inhospitable place. But, it doesn’t have to be!
In this two-part blog series, you will find out how therapy can help you overcome your isolation and where in Austin you can meet some amazing people.
Pandemic of Loneliness
There is profound isolation in America. Between one fourth to half of Americans report feeling lonely most of the time. Many people say that they have no one with whom in their daily lives that they can have meaningful conversations. Men in particular are secluded. During several heat waves men disproportionately died, despite there being a lot more women living alone in that same area. How come? A recent study found that it was because the women had more social connections and had people checking in on their welfare.
Another actually showed that married folk might be the most isolated. They are likely to have fewer friends, less likely to offer or accept help from family or friends. One study found that young adults, the Millennial generation, are much more lonely than their older counterparts.
Traditionally, we would have turned to our religious communities for succor and connection. But a growing demographic of Americans are attending church less and less frequently. So, that source of assistance is not a source of help.
Cost of Loneliness
Loneliness affects our health. Being secluded puts you at a risk for heart disease, diabetes, depression, and cancer. Seclusion rivals obesity and smoking as a health risk. ( ) So, in a way, not only does loneliness make you miserable, it can also kill you.
A pill for loneliness is being researched at the University of Chicago this year. The pill is supposed to help quiet a person’s amygdala, thus helping the person to engage with people better. This seems like an Western isolationist's solution to the problem of isolation. If it helps people get over social anxiety it might benefit humanity. However, there are other ways to learn to quiet the amygdala, one way is learning mindfulness and meditation practices. The other is therapy.
Loneliness and Therapy
Therapy can help, not only with self-regulation, but also in helping you learn new skills and ways to get connected. There are many reasons why you might feel isolated and many ways we, as therapists, can assist you in connecting with your larger community.
If you are grieving the loss of a partner or a previous job, we can address issues around grief that might leave you feeling alone. Having some guidance on the grief process and working through it with a therapist can help you to reawaken to rejoin with people.
If you are struggling to acclimate to a new work environment, therapy can help you to develop communication and social skills. We can help you with active listening, a gentle start-up and nonverbal communication are some of the things we can work on.
Sometimes, people simply have anxiety around engaging with others, particularly in a new and unfamiliar city. Socialization may be different here than what you are used to, and there may be some anxiety about fitting in or finding new friends here. Therapy is a great place to learn to manage your anxiety in a healthy way so it is not getting IN your way.
There is always an adjustment period in moving to a new city, acclimating to a new job, and living in a new and unfamiliar environment. Feeling some isolation and loneliness in the first few weeks is totally appropriate. It’s a big move! However, if you notice after a few months that you are more isolated than you would like to be, or that your anxiety or depression has started to escalate, reach out!
We are happy to help you find new tools and skills to make the connections that you want so that you can enjoy your best life here in Austin!
To book a phone call with me, Karen Goldsum or one of our other therapists, visit our booking page. You can also check out who might be right for you through our TEAM page. We have 3 locations around Austin so check and see if there is an Austin STRONG: Relationship Building Center near you!
Stay tuned for part 2 of this blog post which has a bunch of ideas on Where to Make Friends in Austin...coming soon!