The pandemic inspired 1 in 5 Americans to reevaluate their lives

Leading up to World Mental Health Day on October 10th, around half of Americans report that they are currently reevaluating their life priorities and prioritizing a better work/life balance.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs
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October 5- Leading up to World Mental Health Day on October 10th, around half of Americans report that they are currently reevaluating their life priorities and prioritizing a better work/life balance. For approximately one in five overall, these changes were driven by the pandemic.

 And, just a few days after National Coffee Day, we look at how often coffee (or the lack thereof) impacts behaviors, along with views on how safe trick-or-treating is this year.

Stories this week:

Mental health and habits:

Coffee consumption:

Halloween:

While most are still coping, consumer sentiment slowly improves

Most Americans are still coping with the uncertainty and changes of the pandemic, down from the spring when most people felt things were improving. This reversal in sentiment began in early August, as the Delta variant swept through the country.

Coming down from the surge in cases last winter, Americans’ mood improved rapidly in the spring with the rollout of the vaccination campaign. Though now, despite the declining COVID cases, it doesn’t appear that there will be a similar surge in positive sentiment following the end of the Delta wave.

These categories come from the Ipsos Pandemic Adaptation Continuum (IPAC), a framework for assessing how consumers adapt to circumstances surrounding the pandemic. It’s an index built off of several psychological theories. Through a series of questions in the Ipsos Consumer Tracker, people get grouped into ‘coping’ or ‘improving’ categories based on how they respond to assessments of their sense of uncertainty, preparation for the future, and any adjustments they are making to their life.

Around half are reevaluating their lives and priorities

Approximately half of all Americans report that they are currently re-examining their lives, prioritizing a better work/life balance or exercising regularly. Yet fewer are taking active steps to prioritize their mental health, such as taking mental health breaks from work or their normal routines.

One in five say they are now seeing a therapist or counselor, and 8% began counseling or therapy during the pandemic. However, another 9% stopped doing so during COVID, suggesting the pandemic has had a net neutral impact on therapy-going.

White Democrats, Black, and Hispanic Americans are more likely than white Republicans to re-examine their priorities in life because of the pandemic

Over eighteen months into the pandemic, the biggest changes Americans adopted due to the pandemic include re-examining life priorities and prioritizing better work/life balance, with roughly one in five Americans doing each, though this changes when looking closer at race and partisanship.

Partisanship factored the most into how Americans prioritized their time. White Democrat (23%), Black (23%), and Hispanic (31%) respondents were all more likely to have re-examine how they prioritized their life as a result of the pandemic, while few (11%) white Republicans did the same. A similar pattern emerges around taking mental health breaks at work and from normal routines.

Still, Black and Hispanic Americans were more likely than white respondents-- regardless of partisanship-- to make pandemic-related changes to their life when it came to their physical health and their work situation.

Most Gen Z’ers aren’t frequent coffee drinkers

Half of Americans (48%) drink coffee every day or multiple times a day, according to recent polling by Ipsos, though daily coffee habits change significantly by generation. Only a quarter (24%) of Americans say they never drink coffee. The most notable differences are between Gen Z and boomers. For example, only 15% of Gen Z’ers drink coffee daily, while 66% of boomers do the same. On the other hand, over one in three Gen Z’ers never drink coffee, 9 points ahead of millennials and Gen X’ers, and 16 points ahead of boomers.

One in four regular coffee drinkers have blamed being grouchy on not having had coffee yet

One in three “regular” coffee drinkers – or anyone who reports drinking coffee daily or multiple times a day – say they blame being tired on not having had coffee yet at least sometimes. Another one in four say they blame being grouchy on the same. Among regular coffee drinkers, women are about 9-points more likely than men to blame being tired or grouchy on not having had coffee yet.

Parents are less worried about trick-or-treating this year

Despite the current unknowns around COVID and its variants, just one in three parents believe that letting their child go trick-or-treating this year represents a risk to their health and wellbeing, down from half last Halloween.

Similarly, fewer Americans overall believe that trick-or-treating in their community is risky, down to 39% from 55% last year. Certain groups are more likely to see it as a risk, however. Groups that are most likely to see it as potentially hazardous include Democrats, Black and Hispanic people, and people living in urban areas.

The author(s)

  • Catherine Morris Data Journalist
  • Sarah Feldman Data Journalist, US, Public Affairs

Society