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#MyLockdownJournal: What are we doing during COVID-19 lockdown?

21 May 2020

Researchers from the UCL IRDR Centre for Digital Public Health in Emergencies are leading several projects to explore how people are spending their time during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Woman's hand holding phone

The impact of isolation and social distancing on health and wellbeing are well documented in the psychological literature. In moments of crisis and panic, keeping a journal or diary can be especially beneficial for both health and wellbeing. Regular journal keepers could enjoy lower levels of anxiety and stress, more organised thoughts and experience fewer instances of low mood. Journaling can also provide a record of activities the author enjoyed doing and activities that helped them restore and maintain their sense of ‘everyday’.

Lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that people have had to rapidly adapt their lifestyles to maintain a sense of normality. A quick scroll through any social media channel and it is clear that globally, we are finding more and more innovative ways to keep active, to stay entertained and to connect with those that matter to us.

Professor Patty Kostkova and her team have launched five interlinking projects focusing on lifestyle change in lockdown during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • An online study exploring the shift in people’s emotions and behaviours over the lockdown period. The team are aiming to recruit a large sample of adults to help understand the effects of COVID-19 on everyday activities and lifestyle choices. The study is open to all people over the age of 18 and involves answering a 15-minute online survey on two occasions during lockdown and once after the measures have been lifted. To take part, please visit: https://bit.ly/2Kmb3kT
  • A study analysing social media data to understand changing public attitudes towards government policies (e.g. lockdown rules, exit strategies, mental health challenges) during lockdown. In collaboration with colleagues from across the dPHE network and researchers from Universitat Pompeu Fabra Barcelona, the team are analysing the discourse across multiple countries including the UK, Germany, China, Spain and Brazil
  • A systematic mapping exercise to enable early warning and inform prediction of future pandemics. The team are working in collaboration with colleagues at Federal University of Pernambuco (UFPE) to map the pandemic across the State of Pernambuco in Brazil
  • A gamified journaling app designed to help people keep a log of their own lockdown activities and find inspiration for new activities from others. Designed in collaboration with students from UCL Computer Science and expertise in digital graphics, the app promotes moments of personal reflection as well as social interaction and connection. The app will be available to download on iOS and Android shortly, but images of lockdown activities are already being shared on social media using the hashtag #MyLockdownJournal
  • A centralised resource for infection control medical professionals and trainees seeking evidence-based information related to COVID-19. The International Resource for Infection Control (iNRIC), www.nric.org.uk, a website built and maintained by the dPHE team, now features a dedicated COVID-19 section providing the latest information on the pandemic: https://bit.ly/2zhzjCd

The four projects will help provide valuable data on how people are adapting to life during lockdown. Researchers will be analysing the data in real time to help feed insights from one project into another and to enable further builds of the app.

Professor Patty Kostkova is also providing strategic advice to WHO EURO on digital epidemiology for rapid-response and surveillance strategy for COVID-19.