Cover How are you feeling? (photo: Jacob Ammentorp Lund/Getty Images)

A 10-country survey taken at the end of 2020 shows worrying statistics about our collective sense of wellbeing. The good news? There are things we can do to feel better

In the fourth quarter of 2020, at the tail end of a year that ground the entire world to a screeching halt and postponed any plans anyone had made before the onset of the Covid pandemic, the team at Lululemon commissioned a 10,000-person survey spanning ten countries: the United States, the United Kingdom, China, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, South Korea, Japan, and Singapore. At the core, the team wanted to find out how people are feeling—more specifically, they wanted to gauge people's sense of wellbeing: physically, mentally, and socially.

Turns out, we're not doing so great. Only 29 per cent of those surveyed indicated they feel a strong sense of wellbeing across all three dimensions. 

"There is little doubt that the challenges of the last year have taken a toll on people’s psyches and underscored the importance of our collective health and wellbeing," said Lululemon CEO Calvin McDonald in the opening statement of the survey results. "And while many of us often say 'everything is fine,' it’s clear that we would all benefit from raising the bar for what it means to truly be well."

Some of the more worrying statistics from the survey revealed:

  • Only 15 per cent of respondents considered themselves to be in good physical health
  • Only 17 per cent said they are able to manage stress effectively
  • Only 19 per cent said they have enough energy to accomplish the tasks they set out to each day
  • Only 19 per cent feel confident
  • Only 18 per cent say they have good work/school/home life balance
  • Only 15 per cent feel they are in a "good place" financially
  • Only 20 per cent get enough sleep to "feel well rested"

Among the greatest obstacles cited by survey respondents in their pursuit of wellness include the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic; time constraints and other personal responsibilities; lack of money; limited personal support networks; health conditions; stress, lack of knowledge, and lack of space. Worryingly, optimism when it comes to the future is down 19 per cent year-over-year, with Gen Z self-reporting they feel the lowest sense of wellbeing and greatest challenges coping with Covid among all age groups.

"We discovered that optimism for the future is lagging and the youngest members of society are struggling the most," McDonald says. "In addition, the biggest barriers to wellbeing encompass many aspects of our daily lives–Covid-19, stress, and lack of time, money, and support. And while the report indicates a critical need for improvement, it also shows us an actionable path forward to foster greater wellbeing."

But correlations in the survey results show that there are paths forward. For example, respondents who said they are coping "very well" through the global pandemic are the same people who self-reportedly focus on sleep, healthy eating, connections, physical activity, and spending time outdoors. Feeling a strong sense of wellbeing and optimism is also correlated to being more proactive, especially when it comes to physical wellbeing and stress-management. And of all the countries surveyed, Chinese respondents reported the highest level of proactivity as well as the highest marks on wellbeing, overall. 

Looking to be more proactive about wellbeing? Here's some expert advice to get started: