Living situations 'challenging' amid virus

The COVID-19 restrictions left 45 per cent of people feeling lonely during May.
The COVID-19 restrictions left 45 per cent of people feeling lonely during May.

More than half of Australians have felt challenged by their living situation during the COVID-19 pandemic with many feeling very lonely.

A survey of more than 730 people conducted in May by support provider Relationships Australia looked into how people's relationships have been affected by the coronavirus restrictions.

It found that 55 per cent of respondents were challenged by their living arrangements while more than half reported spending more time and effort maintaining relationships during the restrictions.

The data, published on Sunday, suggests people who lived with their family reported an increase in the time and effort spent on their family relationships with 83 per cent of respondents saying it had been necessary at the time.

Relationships Australia national executive officer Nick Tebbey said the research suggests those who were challenged by their living situations in May were more likely to also notice changes in their relationships.

He noted that while some respondents recorded negative changes in their relationships as a result of the COVID-19 restrictions, some used this as an opportunity to better manage conflicts and build healthier relationships.

Social media, video, or phone calls were also reported to be the most common method of contact for people, Mr Tebbey said.

The survey suggests relationships with partners were more likely to be negatively affected during this time, with 42 per cent of people experiencing a negative change in their relationship with their partner.

Meanwhile, more than 90 per cent of people reported no significant changes in their relationships with friends, children, parents, neighbours and colleagues.

The data also suggests that 45 per cent of people either agreed or strongly agreed they felt very lonely during May.

"We found that those who reported feeling very lonely were more likely to experience negative relationship changes throughout COVID-19," Mr Tebbey said.

"This was especially true for people's typically 'close' relationships (such as those with one's partner, children and friends), whereas people's relationships with their neighbours, extended family and colleagues were less likely to be affected."

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Australian Associated Press