3. Impact on Behaviours and Coping
Respondents were asked about whether they had been doing some behaviours more or less since the pandemic, about their social contact and ways of coping.
Overview of changes:
Coping and connecting:
- In March 2021, over half (53%) reported they were finding the current restrictions on socialising difficult to cope with, up from 41% in May 2020.
- Similarly, in March 2021, over half (56%) reported feeling cut off from friends and family. Yet, this was lower than during the first lockdown (64% in May 2020).
- 68% said they were able to find ways to connect with nature, and this has remained fairly stable between data collection waves.
- Around a third (36%) said they had less of a sense of purpose at the moment, and this too changed little between May and Dec 2020.
- The proportion who felt there is not enough space in their home increased from 10% in May 2020 to 18% in March 2021.
- The proportion who have been sleeping badly increased from 29% to 44% between May 2020 and March 2021.
- In March 2021, most people indicated they would feel 'very' (41%) or 'fairly' (39%) confident accessing public services online (e.g. booking a doctor's appointment or looking up government advice). Just under a fifth were either 'not very' (9%) or 'not at all' confident (8%).
- Most were phoning, or video calling family and friends more often, and shopping online more than before the pandemic. However, the proportion phoning or video-calling more fell from 75% in May 2020, to 57% in March 2021.
- The proportion listening to, or reading the news fell from 58% in May 2020 to 48% in March 2021.
- Across data collection waves, similar proportions said they were exercising or drinking alcohol 'more' to 'less', with no consistent pattern to whether people were engaging in healthy/unhealthy behaviours more or less often.
Wellbeing is shaped by a contribution of different factors such as our home environment and relationships. Compared with the first lockdown more people report they have been sleeping badly and feel there is not enough space in their home. The second lockdown has been associated with an increase in the proportion of people who were finding the restrictions on socialising harder to cope with and there remains a relatively high proportion who feel cut off from others. Technology has helped to maintain contact with people using more phone/video calling to connect with others, but this has decreased over time. In terms of using technology, (specifically the internet) to access public services most people were at least 'fairly confident' about doing so.
For those who can, there has remained a relatively high proportion who have enjoyed spending more time with their family. Further positive signs include the proportion of people who have been able to find new ways of connecting with nature. There was no consistent pattern in whether people were engaging more or less with behaviours such as exercising and drinking alcohol.
Focus on different groups (Data from Wave 3/March 2021)
Women were more likely to find the current restrictions on socialising difficult to cope with and have been phone/video calling more.
People over 70 more likely to not feel confident accessing online public services.
People aged 35-54 more likely to be volunteering and drinking alcohol more than before the pandemic compared to other age groups.
Lower income households less likely to be finding ways of connecting with nature, and less confident accessing public services online.
Higher income households more likely to be drinking alcohol, volunteering and shopping online more often than before than pandemic.
People living in single households more likely to have met up socially more than once a week.
Households with children, and older households more likely to be finding ways of connecting with nature.
Disabled people more likely to feel cut off from friends and family and more likely to be sleeping badly.