Read about how loneliness impacts people living in London, and what you can do about it if you find yourself lacking, socially.
8% of Londoners experience severe loneliness, a percentage that goes up to 12% for young people living in London, and 18% for people in London on a low income. Numbers are also higher for disabled, LGBTQ+, ethnic minority groups and single parent Londoners. Londoners are more likely than any other people in the UK to be impacted by loneliness on any given day.
In cities like London, there are lots of reasons loneliness can occur in all age groups and in people from all walks of life. Society changes how it interacts, communities becoming less community-like, and neighbourly connections becoming less common – society is not becoming more friendly and communal, and this is felt acutely in London.
Loneliness is a problem because it causes all kinds of impacts, including (but not limited to):
- Risk of depression
- Higher blood pressure
- Lower self-esteem
- Impacts on immune function
- Increased risk of systemic inflammation
- Greater symptom severity in those with Parkinson’s
Loneliness is as dangerous as smoking fifteen cigarettes a day, and at the very least, it’s also really horrible. Loneliness feels really daunting, and sad, and it is no way to live. As humans we crave human connection, and when we are starved of it, we don’t thrive.
The good news is that there are many ways to avoid feeling lonely in London, so that you can enjoy your time in the big smoke whilst also benefiting from that all important human connection. Let’s take a closer look:
Sometimes loneliness happens not because we have a want for social opportunities, but because we have a lack of confidence to embrace social opportunity. Perhaps living in London feels a little ‘small fish in a big pond’. Maybe you moved with a partner and that relationship has ended, and suddenly you find yourself alone. In this instance, making this situation better can mean doing something as simple as having your hair done and getting a new wardrobe. For others, it might mean getting help from a professional, and working on some deeper feelings. The great thing is, London is full of fashion experts, hairdressers and all kinds of conventional and holistic therapists, so you have everything that you need around you to get the help you need, so you can regain your confidence and start socialising again.
The first way to make connections with people is to try and make connection with those who you see regularly anyway. Maybe they are on your university course, or you work with them. Anybody who you happen to see regularly is an easy target for friendship.
It is also important to make the most of any invites that come your way from these kinds of ready-made social groups. If they invite you out, say yes, even if you’re out keen on the activity – it is a chance to make new connections and start to build friendships.
If there aren’t ways you will see anybody regularly, you could utilise online friend-finding websites that offer you the opportunity to meet like-minded people. Meetup.com is a really well known site that offers these kinds of opportunities, and it is available in most places, but especially in London. Being social can just mean taking advantage of social opportunities already available to you.
A really great way to make connections with other people is with a like-minded activity. It is so helpful if you aren’t good at simply chatting with people, as you can focus on the activity and have that as an easy starting point for chatting.
Friendships are also more likely to do well when you have an interest in common.
Your hobby doesn’t just have to be something you are doing for fun. Dancing, working out, sports – these are great hobbies to help you meet people but there are other activities that will enable you to be social, too. Volunteering, for example, is a great way to meet people whilst also doing something good in the world. There are plenty of volunteering opportunities in London, too, so you, the charity and your new friends will all benefit from your taking part in these volunteering opportunities.
You might want to change your living scenario to make it more likely that you will make friends. Moving to a new neighbourhood could be a good idea if your neighbourhood doesn’t match you well. Maybe everyone around you is in a family but you are younger and want to meet other people your age. You could move to a younger neighbourhood, or even consider a flat share or house share, where there could be ready-made friends for you to make.
This day and age it is very hard to ‘make the first move’ when it comes to making friends. This is especially true when you are a little older and perhaps are struggling to be in situations where you might naturally make friends.
It is important that you still harness opportunities you are presented with. Say hello to your neighbours, and don’t be afraid to ‘ask people out’. Friendship is a bit like dating, and if you meet someone and feel a connection, don’t be afraid to ask them for a coffee or if they want to go for a walk. They might be just as eager as you to make new connections, and could be grateful of you making the first move. It seems strange in this digital age to make connections in this way, but, sometimes being brave unlocks new friendships that will enrich your life, so it is worth sucking it up and giving it a go.
Loneliness can feel absolutely awful, and it is so common in the big smoke. However, you can make connections with the tips above, you don’t have to keep feeling so alone. Soon enough you will start to enjoy human connection again, and in the meantime, love yourself. This feels hard now, but it won’t be forever. You’re going to be OK.