Awareness of physical and mental health heighted amongst Brits as we adapt to life in lockdown

A new survey reveals how Brits – young and old - are coping during lockdown. With almost two in ten (17%) stating that their overall wellbeing has got better since the start of lockdown and almost half (48%) believing their overall wellbeing has remained the same, it seems many are adjusting well to their new daily routines.

But for one in five Brits (20%), their overall wellbeing has got significantly worse since lockdown started. And it's not just adults who are finding times tough right now. When it comes to the wellbeing of children, four in 10 parents (40%) feel that lockdown has had a negative effect on their child’s wellbeing, citing not being able to see their friends (65%) and increased time spent doing sedentary activities (59%) amongst the factors having the most negative impact.  

The survey, we commissioned, lifts the lid on how the first few weeks of lockdown have affected the nation’s mental and physical wellbeing. Repeated weekly, the polling will examine changes in, and attitudes toward wellbeing, as COVID-19 continues to influence our day to day lives. 

As a nation, lockdown has, unsurprisingly, made us much more aware of our mental health with 43% of Brits more aware of their own mental health now than before lockdown. But it’s not just our own mental wellbeing we’ve become more conscious of: just over half of Brits (51%) say they have also become more aware of the mental health of their friends and family since lockdown began. 

And when it comes to the mental wellbeing of the nation, 1 in 10 (13%) feel that their mental health has improved, or significantly improved (10%) since the start of lockdown. Others, however, are struggling with restrictions on day to day life with 30% of Brits saying their mental health has got worse since the start of lockdown. This is felt most keenly in the 18-24 year old age group, where just under half of respondents (49%) felt their mental health has got worse since lockdown began. 

Perhaps surprisingly though, those over 65 years old – a group subject to some of the most stringent guidance around social isolation - appear to be taking lockdown in their stride, with 69% disagreeing that their mental health has declined since the start of lockdown.

Looking at physical health, people are understandably more aware of, and worried about, both their own physical health and that of their loved ones. And while restrictions are in place around our ability to exercise outside, it seems we’re doing what we can to look after our bodies in lockdown. 

Exercise has become an increasingly important part of our days, with nearly a third (31%) of Brits doing more daily physical exercise now than before the start of lockdown. Furthermore, 1 in 10 Brits say they have also been eating healthier (12%) and have taken up new exercise regimes (10%), with some (8%) even losing weight over the last few weeks. One fifth (18%) of Brits surveyed also claim to be sleeping better since lockdown began.

However for some, their physical health has suffered over the last few weeks, with a quarter (26%) saying they have done significantly less exercise and a third (35%) saying they are sleeping worse.

Our Charity and Medical Director, Dr Davina Deniszczyc said: “As we stay at home and abide by restrictions that will undoubtedly save lives across the country, we have seen people adapt different, for some they have seen benefits for both their physical and mental health. For others however, the worry and isolation is negatively impacting on their wellbeing. In our role as the UK’s largest healthcare charity, we are doing all we can to make our expertise available to as many people as possible, to help support those who need it most during these challenging times.”

We have launched a range of online tools to help people maintain and improve both their physical and mental wellbeing.  We also offer dedicated tools, videos and content to help support children’s wellbeing, including the My Wellbeing Journal. Find out more.

Last updated Wednesday 6 May 2020