War in Ukraine leads to spiking stress, fear, and sadness among Britons

Connor IbbetsonData Journalist
March 14, 2022, 10:44 AM GMT+0

Happiness among Britons is at its lowest point for almost a year

The impact of the Russian invasion of Ukraine is being felt around the world, as Cold-War tensions between the superpowers of the East and West resurface. While those in Britain remain far from the frontlines, the war is nevertheless taking an emotional toll on the public.

The latest data from YouGov's "mood tracker" shows feelings of stress, fear, and sadness have all in recent days.

A third of Britons (36%) say they’ve been sad in the last seven days, up 5pts from 31% on 24th February, and 12pts compared to 10th February. This latest datapoint is higher than the beginning of the initial COVID-19 lockdown (March 2020), when sadness reached a peak of 33%.

Another fifth report feeling scared in the last week (23%), a leap of 13pts versus 17th February – and the highest since the previous peak of 36% in mid-March 2020. This rise has been steepest among the oldest Britons – many of whom will no doubt be drawing parallels between recent events and the nuclear tensions of the 60s. The number of those 65 and over feeling scared rose 16pts from 6% in mid-February to 22% now.

Coupled with this, the proportion of people feeling happy has also dropped 8pts (to 38%) compared to the middle of February – representing its lowest point since March 2021.

Finally, approaching half (47%) of Britons say they have felt stressed in the past week – up 7pts. The last time this many Britons reported feeling stressed was late-March 2020 – again, amidst the uncertainty of the first pandemic lockdown. Young people are particularly hard hit by stress, with two-thirds of those aged 18 to 24 (66%) feeling this way recently - double that of their elders. In comparison, 54% of those aged between 25-49 and 42% of 50- to 64-year-olds feel the same, as do 30% of those 65 and over.

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