Landmark study shows winter is bad for our wellbeing: drop of 0.5 points as we ‘hibernate’ in colder months
The mood of the nation declined over the last six months, as revealed in the latest Sainsbury’s Living Well Index, developed by the retailer in partnership with leading researchers Oxford Economics and the National Centre for Social Research. However, national moments like the Royal Wedding and World Cup, which bring people together, will lift our spirits as we spend more time together socially – a powerful driver of what it means to live well, according to the retailer’s bi-annual Index, which aims to define, measure and track what it really means to live well in the UK today.
There was a drop in our nation’s overall Index score, which fell by 0.5 points in the last six months to an average of 60.7.
Much of the drop appears to be linked to seasonal factors: extreme weather and public transport chaos held the nation back from spending time outdoors and meeting up with friends and family, factors which have been found to have a significant association with our wellbeing.
The Index, based on a survey of more than 8,000 people, sheds new light on how we can all live better day to day. Social interactions and relationships are fundamental to our wellbeing – activities such as meeting and speaking to friends and family, or chatting to neighbours, had a clear positive association with our wellbeing. Over half of those with the highest Index scores met up with friends and family several times a week or more, whereas most of those at the bottom of the index did so once a month or less.
The research found that the medium of these social interactions was key: despite the frequency of our digital interactions with friends and family – twice as often as face-to-face, on average – there was no association with these interactions and our wellbeing.