To put it mildly, the COVID-19 pandemic has not been a happy time. However, it has been and continues to be a fertile period for happiness researchers. Researchers from all over the world have been studying what happens to people’s happiness during the greatest collective threat to happiness that most of us have ever known.
First and foremost, the pandemic has visibly (and sensibly) decreased happiness in the United States and around the world. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, four out of ten U.S. individuals have had anxiety or depressive symptoms since the study began, up from around one out of ten in 2019.
According to data published in April 2021 from the University College London’s COVID-19 Social Study, an ongoing study of more than 40,000 people, reports of anxiety and depression were at an all-time high during lockdown restrictions in March 2020 and fell when restrictions were loosened later that spring.
Even when you’re putting distance between yourself and others, you can stay social.
Even when physical contact is risky, social connections have good impacts. Being married or cohabiting with a partner was one of the most protective measures against loneliness during the early months of the pandemic, according to the U.K.’s Office for National Statistics, which found in June 2020 that being married or cohabiting with a partner was one of the most protective measures against loneliness during this time.
Various studies have also revealed that persons who felt linked to others throughout the epidemic had fewer anxiety and depression symptoms. People have done a “great amount of coping” since the outbreak began, according to Nancy Hey, executive director of the What Works Centre for Wellbeing in the United Kingdom, which collects evidence about what works to enhance wellbeing.
“In some respects, when there’s a crisis, we come together more,” adds Hey. “The best thing you can do is call your family and friends,” says the narrator. It’s crucial to know that someone is there for you when you’re in difficulties.”
Relationships have become increasingly digital for many people. During the pandemic, video calls increased dramatically; according to market research firm Sensor Tower, use of Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet was over 21 times greater in the first half of 2020 than in the same period in 2019.