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Rich, Female And Over 45? It’s Likely You Thrived During Lockdown

Research reveals how lifestyle changes impact mental and physical wellbeing, to identify those likely to either thrive or suffer during lockdowns
Research reveals how lifestyle changes impact mental and physical wellbeing, to identify those likely to either thrive or suffer during lockdowns
  • The research comes from a survey of over 1000 individuals from both the UK and France
  • Study focused on people’s physical activity, work/study situation and financial situation, and its impact on wellbeing
  • Study also found single males in the 18-24 age group, who lived alone, were most likely to suffer mentally during lockdowns

It’s no secret that the Covid-19 lockdowns, whilst vital for protecting public’s physical health, have had huge negative repercussions. Not only have they been economically damaging to countries, but changing peoples’ everyday lives, restricting the activities they do and people they see, has severely impacted their mental health and wellbeing.

In fact, the mental health charity Mind found, through research, that more than half of adults (60%) and over two thirds of young people (68%) have said their mental health got worse during lockdown.

As lockdowns continue and remain a very real possibility for the future as other virus strains emerge and threaten public health, it is clearly very important to not only ensure we are doing our upmost to help those who most likely to struggle mentally with the reality of such restrictions.

But how can we identify those who may be at the highest risk, or identify which characteristics can make someone more prone to suffering mentally?

New research from emlyon business school has looked into how changes in peoples’ lifestyles affected their mental and physical wellbeing and, from this, were able to identify those more likely to thrive in lockdown, and those more likely to suffer. The researchers found that, in particular, rich women over the age of 45 were most likely to mentally thrive during Covid-19 lockdowns and their new, bizarre settings.

The research, conducted through the School’s Lifestyle Research Centre, was an extensive study of over 1000 respondents spread across the UK and France. The researchers looked into people’s lifestyle, circumstances and behaviour during the Covid-19 lockdown period between March-May 2020.

It covered a vast number of aspects of people’s everyday life, including whether they had changes in physical wellbeing, which the researchers show has a huge impact on people’s mental wellbeing.

Other relevant changes to people’s lives included their work and study situations, and financial circumstances, and how this had been affected because of Covid-19. Also, the increase in consumption patterns of both food, social media, socialising with friends and media consumption such as Netflix, who saw their sign-ups sore by 16 million new subscribers a month into the first covid-19 lockdown.

By comparing various consumption patterns to people’s characteristics, such as gender, age, marital status, education/professional background, household size, and income during lockdown, the researchers were able to pull together five typical profiles, identifying who was most likely to thrive in lockdown, and who was most likely to suffer.

Professor Joonas Rokka, lead-researcher of the study and Director of the Lifestyle Research Center at emlyon, says, “France and the UK have been among the European countries most hurt by the Covid-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, based on respondents’ similarities in terms of several social-psychological factors, as well as the 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%).

Thriving – those who thrived are more likely to have these characteristics:

  • Majorly increased physical health
  • No impact on household finances
  • Generally high net income
  • Living with a number of people
  • Married
  • Women
  • 45+ years old

Apathetic – those who struggled are more likely to have these characteristics:

  • A strong decrease in physical health
  • Very significant impact on their household finances
  • A low net income
  • Lived alone
  • Single
  • Male
  • 18-24 years old

In reviewing the results, Professor Rokka said, “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.”

Professor Rokka believes the findings of the study are critically important, given the fact much of Europe is now in another Covid-19 lockdown, which is likely to impact many people’s health and mental wellbeing. It is vitally important, he says, to understand which specific groups of people are most likely to be at the highest risk of deteriorating mental wellbeing, and ensure these people are helped the most.

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