The second wave of novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) infections has put a damper on Belgians’ happiness, according to the National Survey on Happiness conducted by the NN Life Insurance Company and the University of Ghent.
The survey, whose results were released on Saturday, shows that some factors linked to well-being, such as joy of life, calmness of spirit and a feeling of autonomy have gone down compared to the first wave, while loneliness and depression have increased sharply.
According to the latest survey, conducted in December 2020, Belgians gave their life satisfaction before the COVID-19 crisis an average rating of 6.73 out of 10. This figure went down slightly during the first wave, and considerably during the second one, slumping to 6.21. Thirty percent of adults felt really happy, down from 40% before the health crisis, and only 17% felt real joie de vivre, as against 23% before.
A first factor linked to the feeling of unhappiness in times of crisis has to do with autonomy. Insufficient autonomy increases the probability of unhappiness by 56%, according to the report. A feeling of competence, calmness of spirit, a life that has direction, satisfactory social contacts and a sense of belonging are all factors that can enhance people’s autonomy.
The second wave of infections has also led to a significant increase in loneliness. In fact, 73% of respondents said they felt moderately to very lonely, up from 65% during the first wave. Among young people aged 18 to 34 years, the percentage was even higher, at 78%.
A person who feels lonely has a 48% higher chance of being unhappy in times of crisis.
While COVID-19 has created fear in the minds of 43% of Belgians, the country’s future generates more concern, with no fewer than 73% of respondents saying they were worried about the future of Belgium.
On a more positive note, Belgians have been feeling a greater sense of belonging since the outbreak of the pandemic.
Before COVID-19, the country’s average rate in terms of a sense of belonging was 6.99 out of 10. That rate moved up to 7.12 during the first wave, and is now 7.32 over 10.