In early April 2020, only a few weeks into lockdowns in the U.S., CivicScience asked Americans what they missed the most during the period of social distancing. At that time, gathering with friends and family was the top result, but only at 25%. Going out to bars and restaurants was close behind at 21%. In the early days, no one knew how long this would go on.

Now, 10 plus months later and still social distancing, seeing friends and family has jumped a considerable amount, up to 40%. Physical contact, which goes hand in hand with seeing loved ones, also saw a notable rise.

What’s interesting is that, despite pandemic fatigue that we’ve all experienced from time to time, personal difficulty with social distancing has not shifted at all since the start of the pandemic. In fact, the majority of people report it not being very difficult at all.

Eyes on the Horizon

While we’re still months away from any semblance of normalcy, in the spirit of hopefulness for 2021, CivicScience conducted a new survey asking people what they look forward to getting back to the most.

The results mirror the uptick above in what people are increasingly missing most acutely. Forty-nine percent say they are most looking forward to gathering with friends and family once normal activities can resume.

Desire to gather with loved ones goes up with age, as does physical contact. Those in the 25 to 44 age bracket are most likely to most look forward to getting back to the bar (or cafe). Gen Z is most likely to want to get back to shopping and the gym. 

Men and women differ in opinion on this one. Women are more likely to look forward to gathering with their friends and family, while men look forward more to sporting activities and going out to eat and drink. 

Impact on Wellbeing

All of this non-normal we’re living in takes a toll on overall wellbeing. 

Those who look forward to the gym, sports, and physical contact report the highest levels of recent sadness.

In general, sadness among the population spiked in Q2 of 2020, but has since come back down. 

It could be that much of this sadness is driven by the toll the pandemic has taken on the American job, more so than social distancing and mitigation efforts. 

The pandemic rages on but as the vaccine hopefully combats it, normal activities will begin to trickle back in, with predictions being (if all goes to plan) sometime this coming fall. Hopefully this will at least begin to improve the overall mood and mental well being of the country, and hopefully the economic recovery will follow.