LONDON — If you feel alone most days, you’re not alone in that feeling. A survey of 2,000 British adults found that over half consider themselves “lonely,” largely because they are too busy or shy to socialize with others.
Among respondents, 28% said they don’t have enough time to socialize. Another 33% said they struggle to find friends with similar interests, and over 36% said they are simply too shy. Others blame social media and money problems; 20% said they do all their correspondence online, while 30% attribute their loneliness to lack of money.
Younger British generations seem to experience loneliness more often than the general population. While 52% of all participants admit to feeling lonely at one time or another, that number balloons to 68% of those surveyed between the ages of 18 and 24, compared to 41% of people over 55 years old.
The survey, commissioned by the Royal Horticultural Society, also found that half of respondents have at least attempted to do something about their constant feelings of loneliness. A full third of participants joined a social group of some kind, and nearly 30% have joined a sports team.
“It’s worrying to see that half of all adults suffer from loneliness and it really does affect all ages,” says RHS Director General Sue Biggs in a statement. “It’s clear from the study that the younger generation are affected by the digital age which has resulted in lack of face to face communication, while older demographics are suffering in silence living alone.”
The survey found that the average adult experiences feelings of loneliness three times in a typical week, while one in ten admit they feel lonely at least once per day.
Interestingly, 64% said that even with plenty of friends and relationships it’s still possible to feel alone. Over half of those surveyed said they feel more lonely today than five years ago. Similarly, A significant 60% said they feel more secluded as they age because of friends and family passing away or moving to different cities. Also, 44% said they are scared by the idea of living by themselves.
Over half (59%) believe joining a community group would make them feel less lonely, and 25% said it would boost their overall confidence. Over a sixth of participants said they wished there were more social groups available for entry in their community.
Hobbies are another potential solution to loneliness, with 40% trying out a new interest. Of those, 39% have taken up growing plants and gardening. Over half of those surveyed said that being around plants was enjoyable, and 53% believe plants improve their mood.
According to the research, the average age when British adults feel most alone is 37 years old, but a fifth of respondents said they felt their most lonely in their twenties.
Over half of survey participants between 18 and 24 years old said living in the digital age has had an effect on their loneliness. Over a third of young respondents said they communicate mostly over social media. Conversely, a third of over-55 respondents speak with others face-to-face most often.
The survey was conducted by OnePoll.