The number of Christmas cards we receive has dropped by a third in the past ten years, even though 71 per cent of us would rather get a handwritten card or letter at Christmas than any other form of festive greeting, according to findings by insurer SunLife.
And despite all the festive cheer, two thirds (65 per cent) believe Christmas is the loneliest time of the year. Eight in ten (83 per cent) of us think issues of loneliness and isolation have become worse over time with more than half feeling lonely at least some of the time (54 per cent) and almost one in ten admitting to feeling lonely all of the time (8 per cent).
We receive 23 cards now compared to 34 ten years ago
Furthermore, the research found that instead of helping people feel connected and loved, our increasing reliance on social media has had the opposite effect, with 42 per cent of us blaming social media for the increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation.
And it seems that the younger generation, who have been more exposed to social media are feeling the effects more - just three per cent of people over 45 said they feel lonely ‘all of the time’, but for the under 45s this soars to 13 per cent - more than one in ten.
Unfortunately, it appears this decline in traditional Christmas correspondence is not always being made up with modern alternatives – in fact, for more than half of us (54 per cent) it is being lost altogether, as Ian Atkinson at SunLife explains:
"Seven out of 10 of us would most like a handwritten card or letter rather than email, text or social media post, yet we’re receiving 23 cards on average now compared to 34 ten years ago and for most of us, this lack of cards is not being replaced by other forms of communication, it is being lost altogether. Furthermore, more than a third of us (36 per cent) have had no personal correspondence in the post in the past six months."
This month, SunLife celebrates a milestone – the insurer has given away a million pens, and to mark the total, is working with The Campaign to End Loneliness to encourage people to write at least one extra Christmas card this year, to someone who they think would appreciate it.
Ian continues: "SunLife is famous for giving away pens, and now we have given away over a million pens – with enough ink for everyone in the UK to write 138 Christmas cards each.
"Working alongside The Campaign to End Loneliness we hope to encourage people to think about someone who might be feeling lonely this Christmas - maybe an older relative or neighbour (a quarter of us wish we knew our neighbours better) - to put pen to paper and write something personal."
Ian concludes: “SunLife’s research shows receiving a card or letter in the post really can make people feel happy – with more than a quarter of people going as far as to say it makes them feel loved.”
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