Loneliness is something the majority of us have felt at one point in our lives.
Whether it be when we’re missing our friends, when we’re feeling homesick or even when we’re in a room full of people.
It can be extremely difficult, but we’re not alone.
As it has now been revealed that the average Brit feels lonely for seven days during the course of a typical month.
Experts who carried out the study found that one in three of us describe ourselves as ‘socially isolated’, and typically UK adults have just two people they feel they can truly confide in.
The research also found six in 10 feel socially anxious – and more than two thirds avoid socialising altogether.
But why is this?
In a time where social media is at the heart of everything we do, and we can start conversations with our friends at the touch of a button, you would think we would be more social than ever.
But the opposite is in fact true, with one quarter of people admitting that most of their social activity now happens online.
So instead of catching up over a cup of tea, or nipping to the pub for a few, we’re staying inside by ourselves to talk to our friends online.
Some of you may be wondering, is this such a bad thing?
Well, according to this survey, our social media presence has had a negative impact on our relationships.
Forty-four per cent think people are less friendly than they were just five years ago, while one in six admit they worry more about what others think of them now than they did five years ago.
And two thirds believe society is becoming more fragmented compared to previous generations.
But other factors do come into play. Perhaps not surprisingly, demanding careers can make people feel isolated, with 32 per cent of people revealing that working extra hours is detrimental to their social life.
It’s easy to see why. I’ve personally chosen to have a chilled night in before rather than meet up with mates, just because I’m too tired to drag myself out of the house at the end of a long week.
And I’ll bet I’m not the only one.
However, apparently pets make all the difference. 32 per cent of those without cats and dogs said they were lonely compared to just 21 per cent of those with pets.
Deri Watkins, general manager for Mars Petcare, which commissioned the research, said:
We firmly believe that pets could form part of the solution to the growing issue of loneliness in the UK.
We’re extremely passionate about the issue, which is why we submitted the study findings to the Government, following their call for evidence on suggested approaches for their Loneliness Strategy.
We truly hope that the benefits of Human-Animal-Interaction and the practical role pets can play in tackling loneliness are considered, as our research shows the tangible difference our canine and feline friends can make.
This is reinforced by research carried out through OnePoll.com, which found that 82 per cent of pet owners polled felt less lonely upon getting an animal.
In fact, four in five said their feelings of isolation faded within a month of getting a pet and 85 per cent said their animal makes their home a happier place to be.
And I have to say, I understand why.
There’s nothing better than coming home to your dog excitedly wagging his tail, jumping up at the door because he’s excited to see you.
Six in 10 even went as far to say their pet was their closest companion.
Well, they do say a dog is man’s best friend!
Having a pet can even have a positive impact on your physical health, with 62 per cent of those with a dog saying they do more exercise than they would without one.
And if you think about it, what better way is there to meet new people than out on a walk with your adorable pet?
In fact, half of those polled with a dog are more likely to speak to people they don’t know when out walking their pet.
They’re a perfect ice breaker!
But I think the most important thing to remember is, if you are feeling lonely and isolated, please remember you are not alone.
Talking is often the first step to moving forward.
You can speak to someone confidentially about your mental health and wellbeing by calling one of the following numbers: Samaritans – 116 123 , Childline – 0800 1111 (UK) / 1800 66 66 66 (ROI), Teenline – 1800 833 634 (ROI).
A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).