5 ways to feel happier during the pandemic, according to science

To put it mildly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been a happy one. But it has been and continues to be a rich period for scientists studying happiness. Researchers around the world have tracked what happens to happiness in the greatest collective threat to happiness most of us have ever known.

First, an obvious finding: the pandemic has clearly (and understandably) eroded happiness in the United States and globally. Since it started, four out of 10 adults in the United States have reported symptoms of anxiety and depression, up from about 1/10 in 2019, Kaiser . Family Foundation establish This year. In the UK, reports of anxiety and depression were high during the lockdown in March 2020 and dropped when restrictions were eased later that spring. data published in April 2021 from University College London’s Social Research COVID-19, an ongoing study of more than 40,000 people.
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But the pandemic is not the end of happiness. The COVID-19 Social Research also shows that people’s sense of belonging – the feeling that life is worthwhile – remained stable during the UK’s spring closure.

What makes people resilient in the face of such harsh circumstances? Recent research highlights some of the activities that seem to be most helpful.

Stay social, even when you’re far away

The positive effects of social connection hold true even when physical contact can be dangerous. Who you lived with was especially important in the early months of the pandemic: UK Office for National Statistics establish in June 2020, getting married or living with a partner is one of the best defenses against loneliness during this time. A lot of learn also found that when people feel connected to others during the pandemic, they tend to experience less symptoms of anxiety and depression. Nancy Hey, chief executive of What Works Center for Wellbeing, a UK-based company dedicated to collecting evidence on what works to improve health, said: “In a few other ways, we come to each other more when there is a crisis,” said Hey. “The best thing you can do… is talk on the phone with your family and friends. Knowing that someone is there for you during tough times is really important. ”

For many people, relationships are becoming increasingly digital. Video calls spike during the pandemic; according to a market research company Sensor Tower, usage of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet was nearly 21 times higher in the first half of 2020 compared to the same period in 2019.

Digital interactions like these also appear to protect health. Some recent search have found that social contact, both in person and by phone or video call, is associated with fewer depressive symptoms. John Helliwell, professor emeritus at the Vancouver School of Economics and editor of the World Happiness Report, an annual review of global happiness, says video calls alleviate some of the sadness menu in a way that not enough people appreciate. “If this had happened 50 years ago, and everyone was at home with no way to really interact with other people, it would have been a lot more difficult,” says Helliwell. “The ability to work and socialize without physical contact is a hugely important support mechanism.”

However, video calls can leave you feeling frustrated and deprived, leading to mixed health effects. One survey published in September 2021 of more than 20,000 people from 101 countries found that people who are unhappy with video calls are more likely to be lonely during the pandemic. Daisy Fancourt, associate professor at University College London and team leader of the COVID-19 Social Research, says that while video calls should not be seen as a replacement for face-to-face contact, they appear to be help people stay connected and happier. “We found that people who used video calls, as well as regular phone calls, as a virtual means of keeping in touch [for] Fancourt said.

Neighbors and volunteers

The pandemic has prompted people to find new ways to connect outside of their social bubble. For example, many people become closer to their neighbors, or engage in volunteer work. COVID-19 Social Research found in September 2021 that a third of respondents said they had received more support from neighbors during the pandemic than they had previously.

Volunteering is also becoming more popular. In March 2020, the UK’s National Health Service has asked volunteers to do tasks such as shopping for people in quarantine or isolation, transporting patients and moving equipment. It reached its goal — 250,000 volunteers — in less than 24 hours; Two days later, it hit its second target of 750,000 people. People who step up are likely to receive an increase in happiness: Studies show that volunteering has a positive effect not only on those receiving help but also on volunteers. One May Year 2021 analysis of more than 55,000 UK adults from the COVID-19 Social Study during the 11-week shutdown found that volunteering was one of the top activities associated with increased levels of satisfied in life.

Follow hobbies and exercise

Not all helpful strategies are social. Activities that get people outdoorsGardening, for example, and creative pursuits like making art and reading also support people’s health, says Fancourt. Not surprisingly, another mood-lifting activity is exercise, which previous research has linked to emotional benefits. A survey of nearly 13,700 people from 18 countries was published on Borders in Psychology in September 2020 showed that people who exercised regularly during inactivity reported a more positive mood. Most people seem to already understand that exercise is an important way to keep their spirits up; Research shows that people generally don’t exercise less during lockdown than in the past, and nearly a third of people exercise more.

Of course, measures like these are only suitable for those who have lost a loved one to the virus or themselves have a serious illness. One thing that stands out about the data around happiness during the pandemic is that it’s inherently unfair; For example, having a low income is associated with poorer mental health during the pandemic, according to the results of the COVID-19 Social Research. However, if there is any silver lining to the pandemic sentiment swings, it’s even bigger. mental health knowledge, said Fancourt. People are forced to grapple with their own understanding of mental health, “the ability to talk about it in the appropriate language, the ability to recognize their own symptoms and feelings or health problems.” latent mental illness,” she said. “COVID is its own campaign on mental health.” 5 ways to feel happier during the pandemic, according to science

Aila Slisco

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