Western Morning News

Return to “normal”

After the first national lockdown eased, we were already returning to pre-pandemic habits


AFTER the first national lockdown ended, people in Great Britain found themselves working more, but sleeping and enjoying themselves less. New data from the Office for National Statistics has revealed that the amount of time spent on various activities shifted considerab­ly between March/April and September/October.

For example, the average time spent working - both from home and on-site - increased from two hours and 32 minutes to three hours and eight minutes per day.

This is less than the usual eight hour working day because it includes people who do not work at all.

Meanwhile, the average amount of time spent sleeping per day decreased from nine hours and 11 minutes to eight hours and 53 minutes.

And the amount of hours spent consuming entertainm­ent, socialisin­g or enjoying free time decreased from five hours and 21 minutes to four hours and 55 minutes per day.

These changes may have been positive, however.

Dr David Crepaz-Keay, head of applied learning at the Mental Health Foundation, said: "These figures do suggest that most of us have resumed something closer to 'normal life', as the pandemic has gone on.

“That isn't surprising and it may have had some mental health benefits, if returning to more normal patterns has helped people to feel more in control of their lives.”

Work, sleep and leisure weren't the only areas that saw a change.

In March/April this year, the amount of time that people put into gardening and DIY on any average day was 39 minutes - more than double the 16 minutes spent on these activities in the same period of 2015.

However, by September/October that figure had dropped to 28 minutes.

Meanwhile, the time people have spent studying has decreased over the period from nine to eight minutes.

And as people returned to work, men spent less time on unpaid household work - 18 minutes less on an average day.

Women, on the other hand, continued to cook, clean and perform a similar amount of household work as during lockdown; a total of two hours and 44 minutes.

As a result, the gender gap in unpaid work saw a shift towards prelockdow­n levels.

Women did an hour and 21 minutes more unpaid work than men.

While our activities may be returning to something approachin­g “normal”, charities say we should still be taking care of our mental health.

Stephen Buckley, head of informatio­n at Mind, the mental health charity, said: “We know that for many people, the challenges of lockdown had a detrimenta­l effect on their mental health.

“In the run up to a Christmas that feels very different for most of us, it's important to take time where we can to protect our mental health.

“If you can, take some exercise too – even just a walk to your nearest park can break the monotony of being at home.

“We're all adjusting to restrictio­ns and the most important message is, however you're choosing to spend your time, be kind to yourself.”

GORDON BUCHANAN – that hardy big cat naturalist – is back in South Africa, at the Tswalu Kalahari Reserve, to catch up with the family of cheetahs he’s been following for some time.

Mother Savannah has already been through the mill, losing cubs and surviving droughts, and as he finds and follows her tracks – with the help of cheetah expert and local guide Richard

Satekge – they realise tragedy has struck once again, and one of her sons has been killed.

Now she’s travelling with her two remaining offspring, Seba and Morwa, but it’s clear they’ve both still got a lot to learn and Savannah must teach them how to hunt in order to survive.

After spending months in their company, the family are clearly very comfortabl­e with Gordon being around, and treat him like one of their own. We see them having a good sniff of his jacket and backpack, even swiping them to see if there are any goodies inside.

As Gordon realises, there are two mischievou­s teens against one now. They’ve grown to the point of possibly becoming dangerous too, although humans are far more of a risk to cheetahs than the other way around. Human activity has resulted in the loss of 90% of their habitat, which is the biggest threat they face.

It’s one of the reasons why South Africa has created fenced reserves, which are controvers­ial within conservati­on, but have led to cheetah numbers increasing – although life is still incredibly tough.

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 ??  ?? Spotted! Gordon Buchanan seems to be accepted by the cheetahs
Spotted! Gordon Buchanan seems to be accepted by the cheetahs

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