Nationwide lockdowns have been probably the most profound and important public well being interventions inside residing reminiscence. They’ve been tough socially and economically, and have negatively affected individuals’s well being in many alternative methods.
However for some individuals lockdowns have offered an surprising alternative to make constructive modifications to their lives, operating counter to prevailing narratives of disrupted each day lives, well being inequalities and broken psychological well being.
In Could 2020, my colleagues and I surveyed over 3,000 individuals in Scotland to seek out out what constructive modifications individuals had made of their lives in the course of the lockdown interval. We additionally needed to seek out out who had made these constructive modifications, to see if there have been explicit teams that had been extra in a position to do that than others.
Within the survey, we assessed the constructive modifications that folks had skilled throughout quite a few totally different elements of their lives for the reason that begin of lockdown. There have been questions on whether or not individuals had skilled constructive modifications in relationships with household and pals and within the wider group. We additionally requested about helpful modifications in individuals’s behaviour regarding their well being, together with bodily exercise and sleep.
Greater than half the individuals we surveyed reported these modifications for the higher: being extra appreciative of issues normally taken without any consideration (reported by 83% of members), having extra time to do pleasurable issues (by 67%), spending extra time in nature or open air (by 65%), paying extra consideration to private well being (by 62%), doing extra bodily exercise (by 54%) and spending extra time with a companion or partner (by 53%).
An Australian research (nonetheless in preprint, that means its findings are but to be reviewed by different scientists) additionally sought to seek out out related info. In a survey of over 1,000 individuals, it discovered that 70% of members reported having skilled not less than one constructive impact of the pandemic. Three primary constructive results famous on this survey had been: having the chance to spend extra time with household, having better flexibility in working preparations and appreciating having a much less busy life.
The vital position of time was highlighted throughout each research. Lockdown has eliminated a lot of life’s routines and calls for – and for some individuals this has afforded them extra time to spend on actions they loved and valued. Noticing that how we spend time has modified – and fascinated by what we are able to do with any further time that we’ve got – could also be an vital first step in making constructive modifications to our lives throughout lockdown.
Individuals additionally famous being extra appreciative of issues beforehand taken without any consideration and the slower tempo of life that lockdown has introduced. For many individuals, this may increasingly have enabled them to step again and mirror on their lives, their futures and what’s vital to them in a approach that they might not in any other case have the chance to do, with out the calls for of each day commutes or social commitments.
Constructive modifications not common
Turning to who skilled the constructive modifications, our research revealed that the teams with larger ranges of constructive change had been girls, youthful individuals, individuals who had been married or residing with their companion, those that had been employed and people reporting higher well being. These findings recommend that whereas some teams had been capable of reap the benefits of lockdown as an surprising alternative to make constructive modifications of their lives, others – comparable to older adults and people residing on their very own – weren’t.
We had been additionally eager about discovering out what would occur to the constructive modifications that folks had made as soon as restrictions began lifting. Would they have the ability to hold them up? In a separate paper, primarily based on the identical group of members, we examined the modifications that folks had made to their bodily exercise, sitting and sleep in the course of the first nationwide lockdown interval and whether or not they had maintained these two months later, as soon as restrictions had been eased.
The excellent news was that half of the members who reported constructive modifications of their behaviours throughout lockdown had been capable of hold these going as soon as restrictions had been eased. Some had been even capable of enhance them additional. So, whereas we’re at the moment experiencing one other interval of nationwide lockdown within the UK, it’s reassuring to know that some positives may emerge.
Nevertheless, we must always remember the fact that winter, the brand new strains of the virus circulating and being over a yr into the pandemic will all give this lockdown a special really feel to final spring’s, and that this may need an affect on what constructive modifications persons are capable of make and maintain. However as we expect forward to the post-pandemic restoration part, the lesson from our analysis is that there are positively some modifications individuals will need to hold.