Four in 10 adults ages 18-34 say they always or often feel alone, nearly twice as many as those 55+ who say they feel the same way, according to research from the Ad Council.
The study defines loneliness as “occurring when there is a difference between the trusted, quality relationships you have and those you want.”
Over a quarter of respondents report feeling physically or socially isolated (whether by choice or not) on a regular basis.
Though the COVID-19 pandemic has negatively affected happiness, it has not caused a significant increase in loneliness. However, those at risk of loneliness—experiencing at least one factor of loneliness on a regular basis (feeling alone and/or physical or social isolation)–increased from 36% to 44%.
Before the pandemic, over half of respondents (57%) said they felt happy on a regular basis. During the pandemic, however, 42% reported regularly feeling happy.
Counterintuitively, people are performing solo activities rather than group activities or clinical interventions to help alleviate their isolation. About two-thirds of people gravitate towards activities by oneself, such as watching TV, listening to music or napping, while about half reach out to others via technology, followed by connecting in-person.
More than one in three (36%) wish they had deeper relationships with more people. This is particularly true for those who experience at least one factor of loneliness (47%).
For those who do have strong relationships, the global study found that close proximity to others and human touch both play a role in coping with loneliness and feelings of isolation.
See more from the study here.