Perhaps we don’t need a study to tell us this, but it has been found that over a third of our society’s adult population probably feels quite lonely. However, the loneliest people might not be the individuals who you would typically suspect of suffering from this problem.
The study, which is out of the U.K. and Australia, surveyed 1,289 people in Australia over the phone. The researchers found that 35% of the interviewees said they were lonely. Surprisingly, it was not the senior demographic that was most afflicted by this feeling of solitude.
Many of us might think that the older population would be hit the hardest by loneliness, as they are often more physically withdrawn from society and undergo many physical, psychological, and social changes — but it’s not so. In fact, the peak age for loneliness was found to be between 40 and 49.
Also, people surveyed who did not have strong religious beliefs also tended to be lonelier than individuals with a sense of spirituality. Interestingly, women were also less likely to feel alone (but they were also more likely to be spiritual).
When it came to retirees versus unemployed people, the unemployed individuals were far more lonesome. Moreover, the lower a person’s household income was the greater their feelings of solitude seemed to be.
Notably, there seemed to be no connection between a Person’s life span and their feeling of loneliness. However, this needs to be investigated further, as the link between stress and disease is quite strong — and loneliness can be quite stressful. Without even factoring in the stress factor, the feeling of being alone can lead to depression and other emotional difficulties.
So, just being a senior doesn’t mean that you are going to be overwhelmed by solitude. In fact, you are at a greater risk of experiencing loneliness if you’re in your 40s.
No matter what your age, you can do a lot of things to combat loneliness and improve your overall health. The most important thing is to take action. If you have no family or friends that you can spend more time with, then you can join a group of some kind. Tailor it to your interests — for example, if you’re a bird lover, then join an ornithological club. If you are a spiritual person, then consider getting more involved in your religion’s local community.
You can also take a class. Why not learn something while meeting new people? Pottery, computers, photography, aerobics, a new language. . . there are so many possibilities out there!
If you’re philanthropic, then check out the volunteer opportunities in your area. You can feel like you’re part of something important and give back to your community at the same time. Again, keep your own interests in mind when picking a volunteer position. For instance, if you adore children, you can donate your time to a children’s hospital ward. Check your local community centers, schools, and libraries for information on groups, classes, and volunteer opportunities.
The essential thing is to get out there and be proactive about your life. Don’t fall into the loneliness trap. Staying at home and nurturing your feelings of solitude will only make things worse. It might seem difficult at first, but these solutions could take care of your loneliness for good!