Being a company that relies on getting people together to have a good time, lockdown hasn’t been a great deal of fun for us. Obviously, Covid-19 is a danger we should all take seriously, even with non-essential shops and zoos now opening their doors and receiving customers for the first time in months.
But as welcome as these changes may be, it’s social gatherings with friends that we’re all really missing. Weddings, parties and other big celebrations are an opportunity to mingle with friends and strangers – and even if you’re not usually a very sociable person, you might find that there’s a limit to how much solitude you can put up with at any one time. Put simply, gatherings of hundreds of people aren’t just an extravagance – they actually serve a pretty important social function. If you’ve been staring longingly out of the window, fidgeting and generally feeling a little bit unfulfilled, then the significant news is that you’re not alone. And now there’s some data to prove it!
According to recent figures from the Office for National Statistics, we’re all feeling more anxious than we were this time last year. But more surprisingly, it’s actually married people who are feeling the worst.
Before the lockdown kicked in, around 19% of married people reported feelings of anxiety, compared with around 23% of single people. Now, the first figure has shot up to 39%, and the second has seen a more modest increase to 36%. As you might expect, it’s older people who are at greater risk from the virus that tend to be experiencing more anxiety. Another ONS survey found that around a third of brits have seen their mental health worsen as a result of the pandemic. 6% of those surveyed claimed that their mental health had gotten ‘much worse’.
Now, there’s no guarantee that a return to the normal pre-lockdown routine will fix all of these problems. While we all might be relishing a chance to get together with friends for a big hug and a round of hearty handshakes, it might be that some of these habits we’ve developed persist for a lot longer. It’s hard to live in mortal fear of human contact for three months and then go back to normal at the drop of a hat, after all.
While there are risks to ending the lockdown in terms of increased contagion, and perhaps even a dreaded ‘second spike’, it’s clear that there are also risks associated with staying indoors for longer. By taking some of the precautions we’ve already been through on these pages, we can come together for some much-needed gatherings while still keeping everyone safe!