How Are We Feeling?
By Willem van der Maden & Derek Lomas
My Wellness Check is a global open science project to learn how the COVID19 pandemic is affecting human wellbeing.
We’ve now been collecting wellbeing data for one month. If you participated, we thank you for sharing your voice! What have we learned?
First let’s go back to the purpose of this project, which is to better understand our diverse and rapidly changing needs in times of a global pandemic. What are those needs? Freedom? Social interaction? You might assume that since “we’re all in this together,” we all need the same things, right? Let’s find out…
My Wellness Check
Our survey aimed to address the topics that are important for our wellbeing in times of a global pandemic. The questions can roughly be broken down into three categories: behavioral health, short-term wellbeing, and general wellbeing.
Fig 1. Physical Health Data
From the behavioral questions, we can see that people are doing okay, not great, but not bad either. Apparently many people are having some issues with sleeping and exercising, but most report eating well.
So what is everyone saying about it?
A person that rated their sleep quality as “very poor” responded: “My sleep has been severely affected. I’ve been waking up at 3 or 4 in the night, regardless of when I go to bed the night before, for the last several weeks. I think this is tied to anxiety.” This person is not alone. Another person with very poor sleep mentioned: “My anxiety has peaked again, where it had been at bay for years.”
Beyond closed gyms, yoga studios and sport leagues, the lack of rhythm and a regular schedule also affects our ability to exercise. “My former schedule is ruined, therefore I have a lack of exercise, it has made me out of energy and enthusiasm.”
One person, accounting for their wellbeing, puts cooking as a positive note: “lonely. sleeping too much and not exercising. cooking healthier.” Because of the large amount of time we spend at our house, people seem to have more time to cook healthy food. Though most report eating well, a few express concern about overeating.
“I want a hug”
Fig 2. Short term wellbeing data
Short-term wellbeing effects
Many participants mentioned lifestyle benefits during the lockdown: “It has especially affected my way of life. I would say that it has affected my wellbeing positively by consuming less alcohol, getting more sleep and engaging in social activities more consciously than before. I find that I am spending more time with good friends and less with ‘acquaintance’ friends.” And for some of the introverts among us, the lockdown is a blessing: “As a natural introvert, it has been great. […] I can do all my normal work virtually and have more time to play with the kids, work out at any time.”
But Also Negative
While in general people are doing okay, there are some of us who are really struggling, reporting “toxic” relationships, job loss, depression and lots of anxiety. We are dealing with a plague, aren’t we? COVID19 has taught us that we are all affected by mental health, but some people face special challenges: “if i wasn’t terrified to leave my house before as someone with anxiety, depression, and ocd–i sure am now. terrified at the thought of going back to work in person. Terrified.”
Reading over the responses, we were moved by pain that so many are feeling. We are looking at ways of getting the right resources to those of us who are in need. These design improvements will be shared in an upcoming post. However, if you have any thoughts about how we should approach this, or what you would like to see in our service, feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We want to learn what you want to know about wellbeing and how you want to engage.
Fig 3. Long term wellbeing data
As we see in the graph above, we’re a little bit split up when it comes to our long-term wellbeing related factors. On the one hand, some people respond that they are enjoying quality time alone. But on the other hand it seems that it is hard to keep our lives in balance when there is so much uncertainty. However, it seems that, in general, we are optimistic about the future.
“It’s a bit like the groundhog day movie, but that is not a bad thing”
Correlation of different factors
We also examined whether certain questions are related to each other. For example, the data show that “I am engaged and interested in my daily activities” has the highest correlation with other questions in general. Suggesting that we find engagement very important for our wellbeing in general. Specifically, it was related to what we called long-term wellbeing: “Most aspects of my life are in balance,” “I am optimistic about my future,” and “I am satisfied with my life.”
Mental health was also closely related to these questions. Moreover, the question “Rate your mental health at the present time” was even more strongly related to the question of “How are you doing today”, suggesting that we find our mental health most important for our short-term wellbeing.
In short, we can see that even though “we’re all in this together”, we have many diverse issues. This post highlighted a number of wellbeing needs, but what can we do about it? This will be the topic of upcoming blog posts.
Over the next few months, we will be making continued updates to My Wellness Check so that it reflects your needs. For instance, we will be sending out a new set of questions this week and a super-short version. We have included emojis and more variety in the questions. And we are working hard to make sure that you will be able to see your own data. What would you like to see? And how do you think we can help?
In closing, please encourage your social networks to sign up at mywellnesscheck.org so we can continue to gather more data on a more global scale!
A word cloud from the question “What are your most urgent needs right now?”
A word cloud from the question “What are your most urgent needs right now?”HOW HAS THE COVID19 PANDEMIC AFFECTED YOUR OVERALL WELLBEING?WHAT ARE YOUR MOST URGENT NEEDS RIGHT NOW?“my daughter gets upset if I visit relatives but I was so isolated I needed contact even though I shouldn’t. I have PTSD and just moved here. I’m feeling sad. I volunteer distributing food to shut ins which helps.”pretty sure I should see someone about my mental health but I have a hard time finding anyone.I have paranoid schizophrenia. covid has really complicated my life.get rid of my vertigo and migraineI’m a retired marine hundred percent disabled I have major clinical depression PTSD even though I’m on medication it’s still hardI would appreciate talking to someone who has experienced some of the things I am going through.bored, unable to go to the gym. I need to be outside – as this is affecting my overall health since I have ADHD, asthma and anxiety.no physical painit’s been very upsetting up’s and downs anxiety at times. I feel very upset. I have been getting depressed at times.anxiety relief, depression reliefif I wasn’t terrified to leave my house before as someone with anxiety, depression, and OCD–I sure am now. Terrified at the thought of going back to work in person. Terrified.sense of security and stabilityOverall feeling of lethargy. Not finding any time for mehugs and no time-pressure for work related assignmentsI’ve lost two friends to covid in the past month. I am isolated alone, and grieving.to be able to sleep and not fear for the future – emotionally, financially, and physically.added anxiety, added frustration about the world around me and other people’s views/takes on things that don’t align with my beliefs, occasional feelings of hopelessness, depressed at times, sad at times, very socially isolated, burnt out on technology, scared for my physical wellbeing, scared for a sick family member, anxious about the future, added financial burdenchildcare. food. daycare and school, so I can return to work.I am tired, irritable, frustrated. I am required to work full-time and home school my children. No one seems to care that I have to do both. The future seems to be even worse.massage and counseling focus, having results of my work and feeling better about thisI’m scared to death of me getting sick and dying alone in a hospital who will help my dad I’m caretaking. I’m freaking out and my stomach is in knotsFinancial. Being furloughed for this long is a struggleI’m anxious and stressed. I have work and home all converging on me and I can’t manage any of it. I cry a lot. I snap at my kids. I’m on edgeBe aware of increased stress and its impact on your reactions. Utilize all your tools for managing stress, mine are exercise, sleep, eating well, engaging in hobbies, interacting with loved ones, yoga, meditationincreased stress, inconsistent sleep patterns, slight overeating, fluctuations in intense emotionscontrol what you can control let go of the rest HOW MIGHT THE GOVERNMENT OR YOUR EMPLOYER HELP?DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR OTHERS ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH AND WELLBEINGmore awareness of mental health danger for people living alone. allowing \gatherings\ of 2 people. treatment resistant depression is more life threatening to me than covid. recognition of this and allowing socially distanced ways to manage it would help me to survive isolation.acknowledge negative feelingsgovernment – consistent direction about path forward. too much is put on parents to both provide for education for children and work now. Some individuals on unemployment make more now than they did working, while others are working and trying to home school multiple children with no support. sitting in front of zoom is tiring and meaningless. working parents should be allowed to take paid leaves of absence if they are required to home school their children.meditate, read, walk, listen to music, call a loved one, make a healthy meal or snack, make tea, create routines, go to bed early, wake up early, maintain goals, don’t be too hard on yourself, and go to virtual counseling if you have insurance that covers it. Seriously. Counseling is a blessing, and good health insurance should not be taken for granted.help with finances, more help with mental illness and more therapy sessionsTake walkssend my kids back to schoolincorporate routine to get yourself out of your home work station (ie lunch walk)easing the measures, especially for younger <70 and healthy people or people who chose for having a risk to get covid. protect mainly the older people, but also do not forget that they need social contact as well and being isolated is very bad for their health too.Breathe. Go to therapy. Make art. Be gentle with yourself and the people you love.open ca so people can work and live a life worth livingacknowledge whatever the current impact is on your mental health, and try things that have helped before even when it doesn’t seem in the moment like it’s worth the effort or will make a difference.keep things closed so people don’t diebeing an early adopter with a growth mindset, it’s easy to try to do too much or learn too much or find the next best thing … my tip is to slow down and give yourself permission to be okay with asking for help.listen to your body, really listen. Don’t disregard your headaches or lack of energy. they are telling you to slow down, to pay attention to your health and process those feelings of anxiety and fear. They won’t dissipate just cuz you don’t pay attention to them.keep a routine, and take time for yourselfbreaking the day into distinct tasks helps me. I wake up at the same time, walk my dog at the same times, make meals at the same times, turn on a given show or movie at the same time etc. I enjoy cooking slowly and took up origami.scared to leave the house, scared to grocery shop/pharmacy shop, feel like I may never leave the house again. just scared.
A 22 year old hispanic student reporting terrible finances, poor relationships with friends and family, and very poor mental health
Effect on wellbeing: it has made me alot more hopeless, suicidal, financially unstable, and very unproductive in school and other responsibilities. im living in a toxic household where i am not aloud to leave
Most Urgent Needs: my mental health and illness
Help wanted: help with finances, more help with mental illness and more therapy sessions