As we’ve said over the last weeks, life in lockdown has been a big adjustment. Coming to terms with home instead of work, isolation in place of socialising. The change has been massive with our finances and general mental well being. As we reach the two month mark and settle in to a new way of doing things, it seems all isn’t so bad for most of us.

New research reveals that an overwhelming number of us are using time spent at home positively, with over a third (37%) saying they are enjoying a slower pace of life. 

The study by leading savings site VoucherCodes, investigated how much free time people have gained since the government lockdown measures came into play on 23rd March. It analysed employees who are now working from home, those who have been furloughed and people who were made redundant in the past month to find out how they are spending their time and their feelings towards this ‘new norm’.  

On average, those surveyed have more than 11 hours of additional free time each week with 37% saying they feel positive because they can focus on themselves more. A further 35% say they now have a better work-life balance. 

Almost a third (31%) say they can focus more on the people they live with, while a quarter are taking better care of themselves. Additionally, a whopping 87% of respondents have taken up activities they hadn’t previously tried.

Perhaps inspired by the lockdown social media trend of posting photos of homemade banana bread, 22% of us have taken up baking while more than one in 10 (12%) are learning a new language or have taken an online course.  

Top activities taken up during lockdown: 

Rank Activity  Percentage who have taken up this activity 
Watching films & TV shows 30% 
Cooking 28% 
Exercising 27% 
Reading 24% 
Listening to music 23% 
Baking 22% 
Spending quality time with the people I live with 20% 
Teaching children Learning a language Taking an online course 12%

Even those who have been furloughed or made redundant are seeing the positives of their free time with 40% and 32% respectively saying they are enjoying the slower pace.  A third of those who were made redundant in the past month are using the time to help vulnerable friends or family, with this increasing to 38% of those who have been furloughed. 

Interestingly, only 13% of respondents feel anxious and say they don’t know what to do with themselves, with this number increasing to just 19% for those who have been furloughed – the highest of each of the employment groups analysed. 

Reflecting on the benefits of lockdown living, over a third of those surveyed (35%) vow to make more time for themselves post-lockdown, and three in ten (30%) want to continue to make time for their newfound hobbies. However, a less hopeful 35% expect life to return to the way it was before the pandemic.  

Anita Naik, Lifestyle Editor at VoucherCodes told us…….

“For most of us, life has dramatically changed over the past few weeks. As we continue to adjust to spending more time at home, we wanted to understand how Brits are coping to this new way of life. While understandably this is a very difficult time, it’s so interesting to see how well some people appear to be adjusting and it’s great that there are so many positives being taken from the situation.”

Anita Naik

“There are lots of new skills being learned and great fun being had at home spending quality time with loved ones. Whether you’re an aspiring Mary Berry in need of some new baking equipment, or are getting back to grips with algebra and need to top up on stationery, it’s worth shopping around online as there are lots of great deals.” 

83% of people here in South Wales feel their current working status gives them additional free time that they wouldn’t normally have.

Of those that disagreed, this was due to the following reasons:

I am busier than ever trying to juggle looking after my family and having a job11%
I am having to work different hours to fit everything into the day, which means my usual free time is being taken up by work44%
My working hours have increased6%
I am helping support vulnerable friends/ family with shopping/ medical needs28%
I take care of relatives or a family member11%
Other (please specify):11%

South Wales residents have more free time than the average Brit due to lockdown, on average having 13.9 extra hours per week.

In describing their experience of having more free time, these were the top reasons:

It has been relaxing to take life at a slower pace31%
I feel positive because I can focus more on myself37%
I feel positive because I can focus more on the people I live with28%
I feel positive because I can take better care of myself23%

However we look back on this period in world history we are assured it has made us appreciate life a little more, although whether that will last only time will tell. Self Isolation has been a challenge and a blessing for some. There are those who chose to do it alone, rather than go back to family. Others have spent near enough 24 hours a day surrounded by the people they love and care for most.

The team here at SOUTH WALES LIFE have certainly noticed a shift in our behaviour recently. During our allotted period of outdoor activity, people are talking to each other more, albeit from an approved distance. There are smiles when we meet other human beings, someone other than those we are isolating with. But will we simply revert to to the way it was once the virus is under control? If the figures from the VoucherCodes survey tell us anything, apparently not.

We are fairly certain the one thing we will definitely not be missing from life at home is this…..

35% of people in South Wales expect my life to go back to the way it was before.

One thing is for certain however, we all can’t wait for the day when we can see a smiling face, mask free…….

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