Throughout the pandemic, we’ve worked hard to try and find ways to help our community stay connected and keep active. We’re firm believers in the power of social and physical activity to make people feel happier and be healthier.

But during the ups and downs of lockdown, those are two things that have been particularly difficult for a lot of people. So how have COVID-19 measures effected our personal wellbeing? And are things improving?

Gardening has been shown to be one of the most effective ways to improve wellbeing in lockdown

What Works Wellbeing have analysed data collected by the Office for National Statistics about how people in the UK have felt over the course of COVID-19. They found that, unsurprisingly, people reported high anxiety at the start of the pandemic, in March 2020. But by June 2021, people were starting to recover.

“This is what we’d expect,” reads the What Works Wellbeing website. “We don’t like change, but adapt to most things.”

The pandemic also effected different groups of people in different ways. Young people, aged 20-24, reported high anxiety and a big drop in their reported happiness. This age group has struggled to bounce back, too, finding it hard to find their feet again. Meanwhile, people in their late twenties and thirties report higher rates of recovery, and more stability overall.

For older people, the picture is actually rather positive! People aged 65-75 reported the highest levels of satisfaction, happiness, and feeling that the things they do in their life are worthwhile. As the report says, “Positive emotion is an important buffer against difficult circumstances and helps us to cope better with challenges.”

What Works Wellbeing also reported on what people in the UK did to help maintain good mental and emotional wellbeing during the pandemic. Staying connected with family and friends was the most important way people coped. The survey also found that physical activity such as exercising or gardening really helped people to feel well, as did activities like reading, arts and crafts, and listening to the radio. More passive, less creative activities like browsing the internet and watching TV, however, were found to make symptoms of depression worse.

So, what does that mean for Be Well? Mostly this research confirms what we’ve always known – that spending time with people, moving your body and, above all, doing something with purpose are all good for you. Remembering and acting on this is doubly important in difficult times like these.

The pandemic isn’t over, but we are bouncing back and finding ways to adapt to “the new normal”. As long as we can stay connected to our communities and keep finding ways to help the people in them, we’ll find a way through these difficult waters, for all of us.

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