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What Did People Worry About Less During COVID?

This article was originally published on LinkedIn by Lauren Stephenson, Behavioral Scientist at iptiQ by Swiss Re and has been republished here with permission.

The final scene of the recent series "Little Fires Everywhere" (highly recommended, by the way), plays out with Alanis Morisette's haunting song "Uninvited" playing in the background.

As we approach the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, it struck me that this is quite a fitting word to describe COVID too…

Like an uninvited guest, COVID has long outstayed its welcome. We might just about have been prepared to put up with a few weeks of inconvenience, but this has been far worse. Lodging itself firmly inside our homes, and affecting almost all areas of our lives, it has contributed to feelings of stress and worry in most of us. In fact, two thirds of people we recently surveyed said their main worries in 2020 were down to something COVID-related. People have been worrying about the impact of COVID on their lives, whether they or their friends and family will catch the virus, the restrictions, family issues etc.

But ironically, uninvited guests can sometimes bring positive surprises too. Maybe your live-in guest brings out a new side in you, or encourages you to experiment with more adventurous cooking! Without wanting in any way to be flippant about the serious negative impacts of the COVID pandemic, we did want to explore both sides of the "worry" topic.

We used Feedback Loop's agile research platform to ask people what they worried about less during 2020. Importantly, rather than giving people predefined categories, we asked them to tell us about this in their own words, and then we categorized their responses into broad themes.

Results show that even if we are worrying about some things significantly more, it appears that we are also worrying about others significantly less.

For many - almost half in fact - their worries around finances and work have reduced. Changes to work patterns and the reduction in commuting seemed to have helped many achieve a better work-life balance. But the fact that that many people are significantly less stressed and worried about work when they don’t have to be around their colleagues or in the office should make us pause and reflect. Employers have a responsibility to be thinking about how to help their staff with a sustainable work-life balance in a post-COVID world.

More interestingly, other sources of worry have dissipated in the past year. One in 10 respondents told us that, given the lack of social interactions and events, they have experienced lower levels of social anxiety. A further one in 6 told us that they worry less about the way they look. And one in 10 say they simply worry less about the "small stuff of life" – such as housework or even the weather.

Surprisingly, some even tell us that in the past year they've spent less time worrying about their mental and physical health, maybe due to having more time for themselves and opportunities for exercise.

Work related stress is lower iptiQ research suggests

So how can we help?

This year has been full of worries for many people. We know that worrying is exhausting, and even more so when you're worrying about an issue that you have no control over.

So, as the life insurance industry, we know we have a role to play in helping alleviate people's worries. It's our job to provide the peace of mind that your loved ones are protected and would be taken care of financially if the worst were to happen.

Having only recently joined the life insurance industry, I'm proud to say we're delivering on our promises to be there for our customers by relieving loved ones from unexpected financial burdens when they need us most.

To find out how Feedback Loop can help you connect more meaningfully with consumers early and often, book a demo today.

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