The Surgeon General recently declared loneliness an epidemic many studies reveal the impact on health and some reports say the crisis is worse among men.Some blame the lingering impact of Covid.The National Institutes of Health noted last May that the COVID 19 epidemic was related to increased levels of loneliness.But during a recent NPR broadcast, psychologists discussed how a majority of men think they should conquer all their problems on their own, and anything less is seen a sign of weakness.Male Friendships are DifferentDont fall into that trap: real strength is knowing when to reach out for the help of others.Sometimes loneliness is combined with mild depression and it can feel tough to reach out and join a group.

If that is case, just take the first stepor just show up.Years ago, when I was a newbie to fishing the surf in Florida, I noticed this tall guy catching Spanish mackerel when I wasnt.I walked over, and said, Whats your secret? Doug not only told me how to catch the mackerel, he also gave me one of his lures.We talked about fishing together in the future, and since that day Ive enjoyed great companionship with Doug and an introduction to his circle of friends.All because I stopped to ask a question.(Just last month, Doug texted me You should come down to the beach, Im catching giant blues right and left! I went and we had a ball.)This is a lesson to everyone guys and gals alike to counter loneliness by reaching out to others.

Even shy people can make new friends just by asking a stranger a question.Men Talk Side by SideConversations men have, Ive noticed, are usually the by-product of an activity rather than the reason for getting together.Its rare that Ill call a male friend and say lets have coffee and talk.Men, I believe, need a common interest to get together,.

Its during the doing that the conversation happens.My guess is that most women communicate face to face, but men talk side by side while performing an activity.Id wager most of my conversations with Doug occur when we arent even looking at each other were busy casting out our lures.The same could be said of golf, bowling or any activity that gets guys out of the house.Here are a couple of ways Ive been able to find and keep friendships.Volunteering its wonderful to feel a sense of purpose and you meet other volunteers and anyone you are helping.

For years I volunteered to take blind people on nature walks and we all had a great time- and I met another volunteer who became my primary care physician.Joining a group that participates in an interesting activity will pay big dividends in combating loneliness and making new friends.Doug and I formed an informal group of fishermen who meet every couple months for pizza and beer.Almost all of us got to know each other via shore fishing.If you have physical limitations there are a myriad of clubs and groups that might also be a good fit, from card playing, book clubs, bird watching, or historical societies.

Senior Planet Community offers many interest groups that chat via Zoom: Pet Lovers, a Book Club, Gardening and many more.You can join here.Casting a wide net.There are lots of other ways for guys to broaden their opportunities for friendships, from taking a part time job to offering to house or pet sit for neighbors.

There are many options to connect from Senior Planet classes in walk in centers if one is near you, to local libraries or a Meet Up.Male Friendship Next stepsAsk questions about other peoples lives.Men are often reluctant to share emotions and put on a stoic front, but asking questions breaks that ice.Seek out key people where both you and they can be their authentic selves.Invest in friendships.

They are not perpetual motion machines, where just one shove (or one activity) sets it in motion forever and it runs by itself.True friendships take time and effort to start and to sustain.I arranged a dinner with four friends from high school who live in my area every month or two.

Two of those guys have known me since first grade! Amazing friendships that might have drifted apart without those periodic dinner get togethers of the guys.Keep trying.Give one solution a few tries.As mentioned earlier, it can feel tough or awkward to reach out and join a group at first.

I have found that with any endeavor that feels difficult, everything starts rolling after a few tries.Youll be glad you did.Want more? Check out Senior Planet Community and its new Man Cave Community for open discussion and chat.YOUR TURNGuys and gals, too how did you break the ice and make new friends as you got older? Let us know in the comments!Michael J.Tougias is a New York Times bestselling author and co-author of 30 books for adults and nine books for young adults.

He is best known for his non-fiction narratives of survival and rescue stories.His book The Finest Hours has been made into a Disney movie.Tougias speaks to both business groups and at public libraries across the country.

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