Lockdown gave a lot of people some much needed alone time, according to a new study.
After more than a year-and-a half of (totally justifiable) complaining about how dirty this pandemic has done us, it turns out that many of us secretly thrived during isolation of quarantine. New findings assert that a large chunk of adults actually enjoyed the solitude that came from quarantine during the early days of the pandemic.
The study, published in the Frontiers in Psychology, surveyed 2000 people (teenagers and adults) in the U.K. during the summer of 2020, just after the country’s first major lockdown, according to a Eurekalert report. Participants were asked a series of questions that gauged how social isolation affected their wellbeing, and it turned out that a whole lot (~43%) of them felt like they actually benefited from spending so much alone time. Among other things, people reported that quarantine made them feel more connected to themselves and gave them a sense of self-sufficiency because they got to learn new skills (apparently we all decided to learn how to bake at the same time).
And of course, there were the restorative practices that we suddenly had time for: “Many people reconnected with hobbies and interests or increasingly appreciating nature on walks and bike rides during that time,” said Netta Weinstein, associate professor of psychology at the University of Reading, said in a press release, “and those elements of what we describe as ‘self-determined motivation’, where we choose to spend time alone for ourselves are seemingly a critical aspect of positive wellbeing.
As expected, though, the responses varied by age. The older the person surveyed was, the more likely they were to have thrived during isolation. While 14.8% of teenagers said they felt alienated because they weren’t able to interact with friends, only 7% of adults said the same. Not surprisingly, though, around 44% of “working age adults” reported the least amount of pandemic-induced wellbeing.
“Seeing working age adults experience disrupted well-being and negative mood may in fact be related to the pandemic reducing our ability to find peaceful solitude,” said Weinstein. “As we all adjusted to a ‘new normal,’ many working adults found that usual moments of being alone, whether on their commute or during a work break (were) disrupted”
So it turns out that even the people who didn’t find joy during quarantine wished that they’d had more alone time. Still, it’s important to note that this study probably shows a very small window into what the pandemic was like for a lot of people. For those living with abusive partners or LGBTQ+ folx living with intolerant family members, quarantine offered the opposite of a peaceful period of growth and self-reflection.
On top of that, the study didn’t look into differences in responses among people from different socio-economic backgrounds because having a comfortable and stable place to live would definitely make staying at home a lot more pleasant. Finally, the survey was taken relatively early during COVID — before pandemic fatigue slapped us across the face.