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The impact of COVID-19 on relationships and spirituality

New national research from Mainstreet Insights of 1,002 Australians shows that COVID-19 is having a substantial impact on the Aussie spirit, our relationships and spirituality.

COVID-19 fatigue

COVID-fatigue is impacting the sentiment and compliance of Australians. The second-wave has sapped the optimism that residents of this Lucky Country usually express. There is a sense that there will not be a snap-back to how things were. Three in five Aussies say they feel drained by ongoing restrictions (61%) and 80% have a growing sense we are going to be stuck in this COVID-19 challenge for at least two years.

With many still working from home, seven in ten (70%) have revealed that they are in no rush to get back to their workplace/gatherings in the way that it was.

Australia and mental health, a difficult relationship

Australians are experiencing relational and personal difficulties. Two in five Australians (42%) have experienced tension in their most significant relationships. While four in five (79%) feel that COVID-19 has clarified the relationships within which they want to invest their time into. Alarmingly, almost three in five Australians (58%) have experienced an increase in a feeling of loneliness because of the pandemic.

Dr Lindsay McMillan, Managing Director of Reventure Limited and co-founder with McCrindle of Mainstreet Insights said “Australians have recognised that the COVID-19 battle will not be a quick fight but a drawnout campaign and so understandably most are feeling personally drained. Even worse than the fatigue is the anxiety Australians are feeling around what were once the mainstays of our lives: heading to a workplace or attending a gathering.”

Women are bearing the brunt of the pandemic

Women are disproportionally experiencing the negative effects of the pandemic. Females are more likely than their male counterparts, to have experienced an increase in a feeling of loneliness as a result of the pandemic (61% cf. 55%).

Females are also more likely than males to feel personally drained by ongoing restrictions (66% cf. 56% males), and have a growing sense that they are going to be stuck in the COVID-19 challenge for at least the next two years (83% cf. 76% males).

Future Australians greatly affected

Younger generations of Australians appear to be struggling the most amidst the pandemic. Gen Z and Gen Y are the most likely to have experienced tension in their most significant relationships (63% Gen Z, 56% Gen Y cf. 42% Gen X, 22% Baby Boomers, 19% Builders).

Younger generations are also the most likely to have experienced an increase in a feeling of loneliness (78% Gen Z, 68% Gen Y cf. 55% Gen X, 44% Baby Boomers, 42% Builders).

“Although young people have been the least impacted from the health impacts of COVID-19, economically through employment challenges, and socially through cancelled activities and life plans, they have been the most impacted.” – Dr McMillan

Older generations are living it up amidst the pandemic

Older generations seem to be enjoying their spare time. Not only are Builders the least likely to agree they are feeling personally drained by ongoing COVID -19 restrictions (38% cf. 49% Baby Boomers, 59% Gen X, 72% Gen Y, 77% Gen Z), but they are also the least likely to have experienced tension in their most significant relationships compared to other generations (19% cf. 22% Baby Boomers, 42% Gen X, 56% Gen Y, 63% Gen Z).

COVID-19 deepening the inner-life of Australians

While Australians are not known for being self-reflective, this research shows that the current context is creating a more contemplative mood. Almost one in two Aussies (47%) have thought about their mortality more (much/somewhat/slightly), with a similar proportion (47%) thinking about the meaning of life more and three in ten (33%) have thought about God more during the experience of COVID-19.

COVID-19 is increasing faith activities in Australia with one in four Aussie’s engaging in more (much/somewhat/slightly) spiritual conversations (26%) and praying more (28%).

Australian workers are giving the spiritual life a go

One in three Aussie workers are praying more (35%, much/somewhat/slightly) and having spiritual conversations (33%), with a further two in five (41%) thinking about God more and one in four reading the bible more (25%). Aussie workers are also facing the stark realities of COVID-19, with one in two Aussie workers thinking more about their own mortality (53%) and the meaning of life (55%) during their experience of COVID-19.

“While there is a perception that “Australians don’t do religion”, the reality is quite different. Not only are Australians engaging in spiritual pursuits, they are engaging even more in faith practices since COVID-19. This research backs up what I’m seeing consistently in my work: most workers are spending more time thinking about purpose and meaning, God conversations are up, as is prayer.” Dr McMillan.