Our recent research into media consumption during the COVID-19 pandemic suggested that nonstop media coverage is taking its toll on our mental health, with stress and anxiety seeming to rise with increased news exposure. On top of that, people are learning to assimilate social distancing and self-isolation into our day-to-day lives. So it’s no surprise many of us are feeling the impacts of COVID-19 on our physical, mental and social well-being.
“During a crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, it is common for everyone to experience increased levels of distress and anxiety, particularly as a result of social isolation,” the American Medical Association reports.
If there is a bright side to all this, it’s that many Americans are finding ways to adapt to everything happening around us and engaging in various activities to help maintain their overall well-being.
Using Alpha’s rapid consumer feedback platform, we surveyed more than 400 adults in the United States to see how COVID-19 is affecting their well-being and what they are doing about it.
Some key findings:
- People more frequently report that their social well-being is the most extremely affected by coronavirus (36%), followed by mental well-being (25%) and physical well-being (19%).
- Individuals from urban locations more frequently report their social (47%), mental (33%), and physical well-being (28%) as extremely impacted by COVID-19, compared to those in rural locations who indicate their social (25%), mental (19%), and physical well-being (10%) has been impacted. The density of urban areas makes social distancing harder, exposure to shuttered businesses is a constant reminder of the situation, and the increased number of those personally touched by COVID-19 in cities are having profound impacts on urban residents’ well-being.
- Many individuals report that COVID-19 has made them feel much more anxiety (28%), stress (26%), fear (25%), and powerlessness (23%). Most also more frequently report feeling less happy, positive and hopeful, and more pessimistic as a result of COVID-19.
- There is some good news: People are engaging in a variety of activities to maintain their well-being. When it comes to maintaining physical well-being, some of the most common activities reported include eating healthy (58%), taking vitamins and supplements (52%), and exercising outdoors (35%). Those who are more concerned about the COVID-19 pandemic, more frequently report engaging in activities to maintain their physical well-being. Among those “extremely concerned” about the virus, 64% said they’re eating healthier, 57% are taking vitamins and supplements, and 83% are engaging in exercise of some kind (either outdoors, via online workouts, or working out at home on a bike or treadmill). It seems people are using increased free time to care for themselves, with those most affected by COVID-19 putting in the most effort to do so.
- To maintain social well-being, common activities include using social media (61%), connecting with family and friends virtually (47%), and playing virtual games (37%). Notably, 37% of people surveyed said they’re still spending time with friends and family in person. Technology has become the go-to for people to maintain social connectedness and spend their copious spare time. The longer this continues, the more likely this reliance on technology will be one of the lasting effects of this virus.
- People are turning to both new and old hobbies in an effort to manage their mental well-being with their increased amount of free time. 57% of people are spending time reading, 29% are meditating, and 24% are crafting.
- People also frequently indicated that COVID-19 has not had a significant impact on the following areas: sleep, exercise, relationships, diet, work, mood, stress. In fact, males more frequently reported that COVID-19 has had an extremely positive impact on their sleep, exercise and relationships compared to women. And while remote work has become the new normal for the vast majority of us, people have yet to fully adjust: The most negatively affected area of life is work, at 25%.
- Many of us now rely on virtual activities to get our needs met, and virtual social gatherings appear to be the top choice, with 31% of people indicating they’re interested in connecting with friends and family virtually. A slight majority of individuals ages 25-44 report being interested in virtual exercise activities (68%) and virtual experiences (50%). And those who report being more affected by COVID-19 more frequently report being interested in virtual activities.