Why we need to talk about loneliness

There’s been a lot of talk about the pandemic and the various lockdowns and social distancing measures leading to an increase in loneliness. However, levels of loneliness were already rising prior to the pandemic. In an increasingly tech-a driven society, people are spending more time online and less time together in person. Social media has changed the rules of engagement and terms of how we form and maintain friendships. With a global community at our fingertips, many of us no longer bother to learn our next-door neighbours’ names.

Now, thanks to Covid, we are also working from home more, as well as socialising from behind a keyboard. In a recent survey by All Things Hair, 58.89% of people reported experiencing increased feelings of loneliness as a result of working remotely. This has compounded the existing trend.

Making friends as an adult

So, what can we do about these increasing feelings of loneliness? Well, feeling lonely isn’t just about spending time with people; it’s about spending time with people who understand us, can empathise with us and help us to feel more positive about ourselves. Something deeper and altogether more meaningful than likes, LOLs and superficial comments.

At school, and later at university, we are lumped together with large groups of our peers for long periods of the day. Out of this situation, friendships naturally evolve. For adults, however, there are fewer opportunities to make new friends.

As such, if you’re looking to combat loneliness later in life, it’s time to think about the kind of friendships you want to form and proactively go about making that happen.

Where to find friends

Where you find like-minded people will depend on your interests, your political and religious views, your attitudes to health, fitness and much, much more. If you’re looking to connect with people, doing so through activities in relation to these interests and views can be a solid starting point.

If you’ve started practising yoga based on a DVD or online videos during the pandemic, for example, why not join a local class? If you have strong political views, why not become an active member of your local party?

Think about activities you already do, as well. Do you attend playgroup sessions with your young children or take older children to sporting clubs? Such occasions are great places to connect with people and you already have something in common – children of the same age.

The list of places to find friends is almost endless. Joining a class or group of some kind is usually a good starting point.

Make the first move

In a way, forming a new friendship is similar to dating – you need to explore each other’s interests and attitudes to find out if you’re compatible for the longer haul! So don’t be afraid to make the first move and strike up a conversation, even if doing so doesn’t come naturally to you. It might feel awkward at first, but learning to initiate a chat with a stranger could just be the key to cracking the loneliness that so many of us are feeling right now.