It has not been an easy time for scientists studying happiness. It has, however, been a fascinating period in the lives of scientists studying happiness. Researchers around the globe have studied what happens to our happiness during the greatest collective threat to it that we have ever experienced.
A first and foremost, a clear finding is that the Pandemic has clearly (and logically) reduced happiness both in the U.S.A. as well as globally. From 1/10 in 2010, 4/10 Americans have experienced symptoms of depression and anxiety since the pandemic began. 2019The Kaiser Family Foundation FoundThe year was 2019. According to the U.K.’s Ministry of Health, anxiety and depression reported in high numbers during March 2020 lockdown restrictions. These reports dropped when these restrictions were lifted later in spring. Data published in April 2021 from the University College London’s CoVID-19 Social StudiesThe ongoing research of more than 4000 people.
But the pandemic isn’t the end of happiness. The COVID-19 Social Study also found that people’s sense of meaning—the feeling that life is worthwhile—stayed stable throughout the U.K.’s spring lockdown.
Is there something that makes us resilient to such dire circumstances? Research has shown that there are a handful of activities that can help people cope with such difficult circumstances.
Even when you are distancing yourself from others, it is important to remain social
Even when contact with a person is dangerous, social bonding can have positive consequences. Who you lived with was particularly important in the early months of the pandemic: the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics FoundIn June 2020, cohabitation or marriage was deemed the best protection against loneliness. Various studiesPeople who felt more connected with others in the aftermath of the pandemic had fewer anxiety- and depression symptoms. Since the start of the pandemic, people have done a “huge amount of coping” says Nancy Hey, the executive director of What Works Centre for Wellbeing, a U.K. company that gathers evidence about what works to improve wellbeing.“In some ways, we come together more when there’s a crisis,” says Hey. “The best thing you can do… is to get on the phone with your family and friends. Knowing that there’s somebody there for you in times of trouble is really important.”
Many people found that digital technology has made it easier to have intimate relationships. Market research companies found that video calling rose during the pandemic. Sensor TowerUtilization of Zoom and Microsoft Teams was nearly 21 times greater in 2020 than it was during 2019.
Such digital interactions may also help to safeguard your health. Recent studies have shown that digital interactions like these can help protect your wellbeing. Do some researchResearch has shown that depressive symptoms are less common when there is more social interaction, whether it be via video or phone. John Helliwell is a professor at Vancouver School of Economics who was also an editor of The World Happiness Report. This annual report assesses global well-being. “If this had happened 50 years ago, and everybody had been at home with no way of really being in contact with others, that would have been much, much more difficult,” says Helliwell. “The ability to work and socially connect without physical contact has been an enormously important support mechanism.”
Video calling can still feel inconvenient and unprofessional, which could have negative effects on one’s well-being. One SurveyA September 2021 study of over 20,000 participants from 101 countries showed that those who are dissatisfied by video calling were more likely be isolated during the pandemic. Daisy Fancourt, an associate professor at University College London and a leader of the COVID-19 Social Study, says that while video calls shouldn’t be viewed as a replacement for in-person contact, in moderation they seemed to help people stay connected and happier. “We found that people who have used video calls, as well as regular phone calls, as a virtual means of staying in touch [for] limited amounts of time per day— that seems to have been beneficial,” says Fancourt.
Volunteering and being neighborly
People needed to discover new ways of connecting outside of the social circle they were in after the pandemic. For example, many people became closer with their neighbors or began volunteering. The COVID-19 Social Study found in September 2021 that a third of respondents said they’d received more support from their neighbors during the pandemic than before it.
Volunteering has also become more popular. April 2020, the U.K.’s National Health Service asked for volunteers who would do tasks like shopping for people who were isolating or quarantining, transporting patients and moving equipment. It met its goal—250,000 volunteers—in less than 24 hours; two days later, it met its second goal of 750,000 people. The happiness of those who gave their time was likely to be reflected in the fact that volunteerism has positive effects on not just the help recipients but also the volunteers. One May 2021 AnalyseOver 55,000 U.K. Adults were surveyed by the COVID-19 Sociological Study over 11 weeks. The results showed that volunteering is one of the most important activities to increase life satisfaction.
Exercising and hobbies
Social strategies may not be the best. People who enjoy being outdoors., like gardening, and creative pursuits like making art and reading have also supported people’s wellbeing, says Fancourt. Exercise, which has been linked in past studies to mood-boosting activities, is another. The emotional rewards. In a survey, nearly 13700 respondents from 18 countries were surveyed. Frontiers in Psychology In September 2020, it was found that those who exercised more often during lockdown had better moods. Most people seem to have understood that exercise was an important way to keep their spirits up; the study found that people generally didn’t exercise less during lockdown than they did before, and nearly a third of people exercised more.
However, these measures are only applicable to those who were unable to care for their loved ones or became seriously ill from the virus. One striking thing about the data surrounding wellbeing during the pandemic is that it’s inherently unfair; for instance, having a low income is associated with poorer mental health during the pandemic, according to the results of the COVID-19 Social Study. However, if there’s any silver lining to the psychological upheaval of the pandemic, it’s greater mental health literacy, says Fancourt. People were forced to grapple with their own understanding of mental health, “their ability to talk about it with appropriate language, their ability to recognize their own symptoms and feelings or potential mental health problems,” she says. “COVID has been its own campaign about mental health.”