Over a fifth of people in Yorkshire and the Humber report a decrease in self-esteem compared with pre-pandemic levels

Relate  encourages people to work on loving themselves this Relationships Week (5-11 July) 

Over a fifth (22%) of people living in Yorkshire and the Humber say their self-esteem has decreased[i] compared with pre-pandemic levels. In contrast, just under a fifth (18%) said their self-esteem had increased[ii]. In London a third (33%) reported an increase in self-esteem levels compared to 20% across the UK as a whole. Those in the South West appear to be struggling with self-esteem the most with 26% reporting a decrease. 

Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels

This is according to the new report ‘The Way We Are Now 2021’, released by leading relationships charity Relate and relationship experts eharmony during Relationships Week (5-11 July). The report combines insights from counsellor focus groups and consumer polling, plus website and service data. It considers how single people and couples have reacted to lockdown easing and identifies key attitude and behaviour changes, as well as offering tips from counsellors for building healthy relationships with yourself and others. 

The research found that adults across the UK recognise the importance of good self-esteem with almost two thirds (64%) of adults agreeing[iii] that self-esteem is linked to success in a romantic relationship – as did 65% of those living in the Yorkshire and the Humber. That’s why Relate is using Relationships Week to encourage people to work on arguably the most important relationship of all: the one with themselves.  

Relate Counsellor Holly Roberts said the pandemic appears to have contributed to a split in self-esteem levels: “A positive and balanced view of yourself is critical to overall wellbeing and building strong relationships of all kinds. It’s great that just under a fifth of people in Yorkshire and the Humber feel their self-esteem has increased but for others, it has taken a big hit. As we focus on ‘getting back out there’ don’t forget to take some time to also focus on yourself. Learning to love yourself can mean different things to different people – it might be joining a face-to-face exercise class now that’s possible again, saying no to a social engagement, or getting some support such as counselling.” 

Self-love is something many of us need to work on!
Photo by Anna Tarazevich from Pexels

Across the whole of the UK, the top reasons for self-esteem increasing compared to pre the Covid-19 pandemic were; paying more attention to physical health (33%), realising how strong they are for getting through a pandemic (24%) and taking up a new hobby (23%).  For those who said their self-esteem decreased during the pandemic, this was driven by an inability to socialise with friends and family (48%), money worries (42%) and not prioritising physical health (40%). Comparison with others on social media (20%) was another key factor. Low self-esteem is currently more prevalent among women than men, with 30% of women saying their self-esteem decreased, compared to pre-Covid-19 pandemic, whereas only 15% of men said the same. 

These findings are supported by Relate’s own website data which shows their page on low self-esteem has recently seen a 125% increase in page views, suggesting people are keen to work on their self-esteem now we are emerging from lockdown[iv].   

Relate’s own data also shows that the number of 18-34 year olds attending counselling on their own at Relate has increased by 7% since before the pandemic.[v] They want to encourage even more millennials and Gen-Zers to get in touch by accessing their online self-help content and attending services such as individual counselling to work on issues relating to low self-esteem, friendship and finding love. 

Self-help singles 
The report [vi] shows two in five (42%) single people said they either have or are more likely to enter into short but intense romantic relationships with one or more people since restrictions have. Three in ten (30%) of single people surveyed said they make more effort to recognise and address unhealthy romantic patterns, and 23% of people use self-help resources including books, online quizzes or advice from wellness influencers more than they did pre the Covid-19 pandemic Interestingly, 18–34-year-olds surveyed were the most likely age group to say that they use self-help resources more than pre the Covid-19 pandemic (32%). 

Over a quarter (28%) of people who said they are more likely to enter into short but intense romantic relationships since restrictions have relaxed said it’s because they now have a better sense of what they want from a relationship, and a similar number (24%) don’t want to waste any more time. However, sex presents an issue for some. One in four (25%) feel ‘out of practice’ in the bedroom, while over one in eight (13%) are not ready to be intimate again.  

Rachael Lloyd, relationship expert at eharmony, said: “Lockdown was hard for a lot of people, but it also gave singles the time to work out who they are and what they’re looking for in a partner. While it’s only natural that some people feel nervous about having sex again, lockdown has also created a boom in more meaningful dating, with people keen to find real substance. At eharmony, we’ve seen this kind of thing happening before – traumatic environmental events invariably lead to spikes in dating and people wanting to connect deeply with each other.”  

Understandably, many feel out of practice when it comes to intimacy!
Photo by Dainis Graveris from Pexels

The state of Britain’s couple relationships 
Looking at those in relationships, the pandemic has sped up how quickly couples[vii] are reaching common relationship milestones including saying ‘I love you’ for the first time (68%), getting a pet (59%), buying a house together (58%), getting engaged (63%) and even trying for a baby (61%). 

And for couples who said the quality of their relationship has gotten better post the Covid-19 pandemic, reasons include more quality time together (46%), the opportunity for more open and honest conversations (37%) and a spike for some in how often they have sex (20%). 

Over one in eight (13%) respondents, however, are left feeling that the quality of their relationship has worsened[viii]  through the pandemic. The report found that one in ten (10%) UK adults agreed that having more time apart due to lockdown lifting will help their relationship. 

Holly adds: “A key issue we see in counselling is partners not prioritising quality time together. Lockdown meant this was no longer a bone of contention but as restrictions ease and calendars get busier, making time for one another requires a more concerted effort.”

The Way We Are Now’ report has been released to launch Relate’s annual Relationships Week (5-11 July). People can access self-help content on learning to love yourself throughout the Week and beyond, and information on services to help boost self-esteem is available at relate.org.uk/relationships-week

Huddersfield Times

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