Despite restrictions easing and services returning to normal, 62% of Britons are continuing to suffer from the consequences of routines created during the pandemic.

Research from leading health and wellbeing charity, Royal Voluntary Service and Yakult, has revealed how enduring behaviours created by pandemic restrictions mean that many people continue to put off acts of self-care such as visiting health professionals or taking exercise.

Even though restrictions have been lifted it appears we are still nervous to resume positive pre-pandemic routines. Some have delayed seeing their GP (14%), optician (16%) or dentist (21%).

The research further highlights the behaviours that have taken a dip, with diet and exercise being the areas most neglected – 28% of respondents admitting to exercising less and ordering more takeaways than usual.  

Among some of the most common reasons mentioned were seeing fewer people and not prioritising these activities anymore (20%) being less concerned with one’s appearance (22%), worrying healthcare professionals will be too busy (21%), not wanting to be a burden (20%) and still limiting interactions (30%).

As a result, more than a third of respondents feel more anxious (35%), less fit (32%), as well as less healthy (33%) and less good about themselves (31%). More than two fifths (41%) said a physical or a mental health condition has developed or got worse.

“The pandemic and subsequent isolation periods forced us into routines and behaviours that are unnatural to us and are bound to have some residual effects. That’s why this winter it is all the more important to look after our own wellbeing and the wellbeing of those around us.

“Self-neglect can be a sign of poor mental health. The Stay Safe, Warm and Well guide is a fantastic tool to provide advice and support on keeping yourself and loved ones safe. If you are experiencing symptoms of these residual effects along with low mood, you should book an appointment with your GP or speak to a charity supporting mental health.”

Sam Ward, Deputy CEO and Director of Services at Royal Voluntary Service

It seems the pandemic has also affected the ways we look after our homes, creating trip and health hazards. Almost a quarter (24%) have more clutter around the house than before the pandemic and approximately 1 in 5 haven’t been cleaning as much (21%) and have continued to let minor repairs build up (19%).

To help people look after themselves throughout the difficult winter ahead, Royal Voluntary Service and Yakult have produced the Safe, Warm and Well guide which includes vital information such as how to keep active and eat a healthy diet, how to ensure your home is gas safe, who to call in a power emergency, as well as contacts for mental health support, and where to find essential NHS contact details. By following the advice in the guide, people will be able to better manage the risks that are elevated by cold weather.  

“With most aspects of everyday life returning to normal, it‘s easy to overlook personal struggles that carry on behind closed doors. While some people may not want to burden others or ask for help, we hope that our guide will support those most vulnerable and in need to stay safe, warm and well and encourage them to seek help during winter if they need it.”

Reshma Patel, Marketing Manager Yakult UK & Ireland 

For further information

To become a local volunteer search for volunteering opportunities in your area. Or help make a difference by making a secure online donation.

If you are a member of the press and have a media enquiry please contact the Media Team. For all other enquiries, contact us.