Investing in relationships to build strong support networks

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Source: Re-imagining 100 study, Prudential Singapore

Relationships with our loved ones have taken a hit during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, as shown in a recent survey.

According to life insurer Prudential Singapore’s recent study “Re-imagining 100: The pandemic’s impact on longevity”, Singaporeans are feeling less happy in the relationships they cherish the most. These include bonds with their partners and parents.

The survey, whose findings were released in September, looks at the pandemic’s impact on Singaporeans as they live longer. With social distancing and fewer face-to-face interactions, the relationships they consider most important to them have suffered during the pandemic.

Notably, 29 per cent of the 1,218 respondents say they do not know if they will be able to find the support they need in an unexpected event such as loss of a job, sudden illness or the death of a loved one. This is a 10 per cent increase from the figure reported in 2018, when the first report, “Ready for 100 in Singapore? Preparing for Longevity” was launched to examine the opportunities and challenges of people living longer.

Naturally, the perceived deterioration in relationships, together with stressors in work and finances, have exacted a toll on mental health. This is despite three in four respondents reporting no change or an improvement in their physical health since the start of the pandemic.

Growing awareness of mental well-being

One silver lining, though, is that the pandemic has raised awareness of the importance of mental wellness, and prompted many Singaporeans to pay attention to their mental well-being.

Extensive research has shown that having good and close relationships is key to leading longer and happier lives with fewer mental health problems. This is particularly true during stressful times.

The strong support from family members, friends and colleagues kept marketing director Deng Suting’s morale up when she had to undergo quarantine recently.

“When I was quarantined, I was very grateful for the help and emotional support from my family, friends, neighbours and colleagues,” she says. “It made me realise that a strong social support network is indeed crucial in helping us maintain positive mental and physical health, which will help us live well for longer.”