Quantitative research on the psychological effects of lockdown conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic is needed to inform mental health interventions which aim to alleviate potential adverse effects. The goal of this study was to investigate psychological distress during the lockdown in New Zealand.
We implemented a longitudinal quasi-experimental research design using a sample (n = 81) who completed surveys on mindfulness, satisfaction with life, and mental health indicators at three time-points, separated by at least 2-week intervals. The sample was divided into two parts, the baseline group (n = 44) and the lockdown group (n = 37). The baseline group completed the surveys the first time prior to lockdown, and mostly completed the second and third surveys during lockdown. The lockdown group mostly completed the survey for the first time during lockdown and the second and third surveys during or after lockdown.
Mindfulness and satisfaction with life at baseline significantly predicted lower levels of depression, anxiety, and stress during uncertain and emergency conditions before and during lockdown. The baseline group experienced significantly less anxiety and stress during lockdown compared to just prior to the lockdown (baseline condition).
Individuals who have higher levels of mindfulness and those with greater life satisfaction experience significantly less depression, anxiety, and stress over time, during both uncertain and emergency conditions such as during the threat of COVID-19. The finding of anxiety and stress reduction during lockdown may be specific to New Zealand, as conditions differ in many ways from those in other countries. Preventative measures which increase mindfulness and satisfaction with life could help alleviate depression, anxiety, and stress during uncertain and emergency conditions.