The researchers, from emlyon business school’s Lifestyle Research Center, have extensively studied people’s lifestyle, circumstances, and behaviour during the COVID-19 lockdown period, to examine how it has impacted their mental and physical well-being.
The data comes from a survey of over 1,000 respondents, split evenly across the UK and France, gathered near the end of the lockdown period in May.
The study covered a number of relevant areas of everyday life that were likely to be affected by the lockdown. These included changes in individuals reported physical and psychological well-being, work/study situation, financial situation, and consumption patterns including eating habits, socialising, exercising, and media consumption.
The researchers also compared people’s characteristics such as gender, age, marital status, education/professional background, household size, and income during the lockdown, to their well-being.
Professor Joonas Rokka, Director of the Lifestyle Research Center at emlyon, says: ‘France and the UK have been among the European countries most hurt by the COVI-19 virus. Both countries imposed numerous important limitations on the daily lives of citizens: controls of travel and movement within and outside cities, closing of commercial services and workplaces, closing of public spaces, and so forth. The countries have experienced serious immediate impacts on their welfare and economic activity.’
The researchers collated five wellbeing profiles are based on respondent’s similarities in terms of several social-psychological factors, as well as frequency and strength of positive or negative emotions throughout lockdown. These five profiles are described as: thriving (20% of the UK), oscillating (17%), stable (17%), withering (32%), and apathetic (13%).
This group reported the most positive overall well-being, based off a number of psychological measures including the frequency of strong positive emotions (such as joy, happiness, contentment) compared to negative ones (such as fear, anger, sadness) during the lockdown. Most likely to include members with the following characteristics:
- Majorly increased physical health
- No impact on household finances
- Generally high net income
- Living with a number of people
- 45+ years old
The most negative overall well-being, where the respondent experienced frequent and strong negative emotions during the lockdown. Characterised by:
- A strong decrease in physical health
- Very significant impact on their household finances
- A low net income
- Lived alone
- 18–24 years old
‘It’s clear from our research that people in the UK and France are definitely split between those who thrived and those who suffered during the lockdown. We show that the change on physical health was most dramatic for those who were less thriving psychologically. While the single most important factors explaining members’ likelihood to belong to most thriving group or suffering in terms of overall wellbeing were the changes in financial situation, number of people living together, marital status, gender and age.’ Rokka explains.
This is the first study to have examined how the COVID-19 lockdown has impacted lifestyle consumption patterns and wellbeing – an issue that has currently received little empirical investigation and international comparison.
Given that the lockdown has significantly restricted the lives of many European citizens, it has until now, been unclear especially how these actions have translated in changes in everyday behaviour, but also on mental and physical well-being experienced by people.
The findings of the study, and the impact of a lockdown on people’s physical and mental well-being, are likely to become even more important with much talk of further lockdowns across the world, caused by another outbreak of COVID-19.
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