State of the nation: one year from lockdown

New research reveals how we’ve reassessed our lives

We strive to help people lead better lives, whether that means protecting them or their loved ones or helping them to stay happy and healthy. One year on from the first COVID-19 lockdown in the UK, we wanted to gauge how the nation is feeling and how people’s attitudes to life, family and work have changed.

Conducted by Opinium on behalf of AXA, a survey of 2,000 adults found that nearly three-quarters of adults (73%) say what makes them happy and fulfilled has changed significantly over the past 12 months since the first national lockdown. Over half say spending time with theirs friends and family is what matters most to them now, with this number increasing to more than two thirds with people aged over 55+ (67%). With the restrictions we’ve had to face as a nation, it’s no surprise that going on holiday is highly desired (41%), followed by relaxing hobbies like reading a book (30%) and keeping fit and healthy (29%).

What's most important to making Brits happy and fulfilled?

Spending time with friends and family in person (not a video call) - 57%

Going on holiday - 41%

Listening to music - 30%

Reading a book - 30%

Travelling freely where I want - 29%

Keeping healthy and fit - 29%

Watching TV or TV streaming services - 28%

A good work-life balance - 26%

Spending time by myself - 24%

Spending time with a pet - 21%

Staycations vs holidays abroad

People are understandably excited for when the lockdown restrictions begin to lift. Yet with nearly a third (32%) favouring staycations and hoping to go on more holidays in the UK and a quarter (26%) wanting to pack the suitcase and head abroad. Maybe the unknown and the current general rigmarole of travelling overseas in a post-lockdown world carries too much uncertainty right now.

What percentage of Brits plan to holiday more in the UK compared to before the pandemic?

8% I didn't do this before and I won't do it after

6% Don't know

32% I plan to do this more

46% I plan to do this the same amount as I did before

8% I plan to do this less

What percentage of Brits plan to holiday more abroad compared to before the pandemic?

13% I didn't do this before and I won't do it after

6% Don't know

26% I plan to do this more

41% I plan to do this the same amount as I did before

14% I plan to do this less

Time to get fit and healthy

When it comes to exercising and staying fit, we believe exercise is about having fun and finding what works for you. It’s positive to see that living a healthier lifestyle has become a bigger focus for Brits with people looking to make several changes.


plan to go to the gym more or exercise


say they’ll eat more healthily


plan to drink less alcohol

Balancing work and life

With offices forced to shut and the stay at home order in place, it meant that many of us had to adapt to working from home. Nearly four in five workers (78%) surveyed said they’re working from home some of the time. But the country is split as to whether or not they actually favour working from home, with 55% preferring it to their office and 52% saying they will miss remote working if they have to return. Younger people in particular are craving the office environment, with 50% of 18 34-year olds saying they miss it. The majority of people are working the same hours as they were before (36%), some are working more hours (12%), and worryingly, 12% are working considerably more hours.

Do home workers miss working in an office / workplace?

Strongly agree


Neither agree nor disagree


Strongly disagree

“While the majority of workers will miss remote working if they have to go back to the office, there are also many who miss their workplace – especially younger people. Employers need to carefully consider their employees’ individual needs and work collaboratively to find a hybrid way of working that combines the best of both worlds.”

— Claudio Gienal, CEO, AXA UK and Ireland (February 2021)

Pubs and restaurants

It looks like Brits have missed dining out at restaurants more than visiting the pub, with more people wanting to dine out when lockdown restrictions ease. Unsurprisingly, younger people want to visit the local, with more than a third (34%) saying they’ll be visiting a pub or bar more frequently more often.


plan to go to visit a pub or bar more


plan to visit a pub or bar less


want to dine out more often

Ready to try something new?

The last 12 months and living in lockdown has inspired some people to try something new for the first time, 24% said they’ve learned new cooking skills, 18% have tried new types of indoor exercise and 16% doing the same outdoors. This was followed by gardening (14%), arts and crafts 14%, and passing the time with puzzles (12%). A quarter (24%) of Brits are feeling more confident about trying something new once lockdown is over.

Despite the events of the past 12 months being extremely challenging, it’s encouraging to see the increased importance of our health and wellbeing. Our priorities have no doubt changed and we’ve adapted to find new ways to make us happy and fulfilled. As lockdown restrictions ease, we await with caution on what the next 12 months will look like.