Stressed adults turning to technology to beat lockdown gloom

Thursday, 25th February 2021, 1:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th February 2021, 1:28 pm

A new study from Huawei AppGallery in conjunction with The Stress Management Society today reveals that two thirds (65%) of adults say they feel more stressed than usual as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. Over three quarters of adults (78%) have used technology to de-stress or motivate themselves since March 2020, with 94% of those saying tech has boosted their wellbeing.

With national lockdown measures set to continue until the end of March, adults have revealed the biggest technology benefits from their time at home, with entertainment (61%), socialisation (52%) and the sense of escapism tech provides (46%) the most important.

The results of the study are published as the world’s third biggest app store, Huawei AppGallery, adds Headspace, a global leader in meditation and mindfulness, to their platform to give customers access to app’s science-backed content and additional wellbeing support during this time of increased stress.

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‘What if’ worries driving stress

The Stress Management Society identified three major trends in the way adults have been feeling during the lockdown: feelings of disconnection, uncertainty, and a loss of control. They say that the survey results show many of the main stressors are examples of ‘what if…?’ thinking: things that are worst case scenarios, are out of our control or have not happened yet. The survey revealed the pandemic has left 46% of adults feeling disconnected to others and 54% feel isolated. 46% also said that uncertainty about when things will get back to normal has been a source of stress.

In addition, 36% of those surveyed reported difficulty in concentrating and 38% say they feel a lack of motivation.

Respondents who agree they have felt more stressed since the pandemic began include those who are employed working behind a counter (86%), in hospitals (80%), and in education (76%). While 78% of students also agree they feel more stressed, as do those between the ages of 18-24 (79%).

The survey also highlighted that people in areas of the UK that have been under tougher lockdown restrictions for longer have also felt the impact on their mental health the most, with those in the North West (71%), North East (70%) and London (70%) reporting feeling more stress than usual.

Tech is proving essential for boosting wellbeing

The top technologies that adults say have benefitted them during lockdown include TV streaming apps (42%), video calling platforms (41%) and creating playlists on music apps (22%).

Online and app-based exercise classes have been helping 33% of adults keep mentally and physically fit, with 90% of those using them every week and 21% doing five or more online workouts every week. Women are almost twice as likely as men to have tried online or app-based workouts, with yoga (38%), strength training (35%), HIIT (26%) and Dance (26%) revealed to be the most popular classes.

Getting out in nature has been helping adults to find calm amongst the chaos in the past 11 months: 15% have used apps to help discover new walking routes around their local area, 14% have taken on running challenges on an app or with an online community and 12% have been inspired to visit somewhere they have seen on an app or social media.

Mindfulness practices on the rise

More people are practicing mindfulness since the pandemic began with 17% trying it for the first time this year, while 30% of regular users have upped their practice to cope with lockdown stress. Exercise tracking, anxiety reduction and relaxation techniques are all features attracting adults to download wellbeing apps like Headspace, while 7% have also been listening to bedtime stories to get to sleep.

The Stress Management Society recommends that practicing a form of meditation or mindfulness can help people to be less distracted by 'what if' thinking and become more aware of the 'here and now'.

Neil Shah, Chief De-Stressing Officer at The Stress Management Society says: “It’s inevitable that every single one of us has been impacted in one way or another by the events of the last 12 months – and as we find ourselves living in a strange new reality, it is imperative that we find strategies to increase our resilience to cope with the unfamiliar, uncertain and challenging times we find ourselves living through.”

“Mindfulness has proven to be a powerful and practical technique to bring yourself to the present moment – given much of our stress and anxiety stems from things that haven’t happened yet, and we are often worried and upset by past events, our ability to bring ourselves back to the present moment is a wonderful way to ‘reset’ ourselves. Using an app like Headspace can be an easily accessible way to get access to daily exercises and support which can help improve mental wellbeing.”

Graham Long, Director Ecosystem Development, Huawei UK Consumer Business Group, says: “The restrictions put in place to tackle COVID-19 have had a significant impact on our daily lives.  The way we live, work, and communicate have changed dramatically and this has been challenging as we come to terms with limited physical interactions, restrictions on gatherings and new working practices.”

“We’ve partnered with the Stress Management Society to help gain an understanding of the state of the nations’ wellbeing, as well as the little things that are helping us to feel better during this challenging time. As a result, we are delighted to be bringing Headspace to the AppGallery as a way of providing extra support during this challenging time.”

Jolawn Victor, Chief International Officer at Headspace, says: “Headspace serves 70 million members around the world and celebrated its 10th anniversary last year. We’re thrilled to be able to open up meditation and sleep support to an additional 4 million Huawei AppGallery users in the UK, at this time of increased stress and anxiety for many.”

“Since the lockdowns started last March, 10 times the number of people in the UK are following our ‘Reframing Anxiety at Home’ workout, and the ‘Stress meditation’ exercise is being listened to six times more than before lockdown; showing just how important a role the app is playing in supporting our mental wellbeing. Some Headspace courses have even had a 1000% spike in users as people turn to our app to help them feel more in control of their wellbeing during these unprecedented times.”