Living through lockdown : coping strategies and perceived stress of New Zealand-based parents during the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions in Aotearoa New Zealand : a thesis presented in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Science in Psychology at Massey University, Manawatū, New Zealand
The current study examined coping strategies and perceived stress of New Zealand-based parents during the 2020 COVID-19 restrictions. Two online surveys were administered. Survey 1 (N = 242) was available between May 7th and May 16th and covered the previous four weeks of Alert Level 4 and 3. Subject IDs were generated for those participants who opted to complete Survey 2 as well. Survey 2 (N = 125) was available between June 12th and June 19th and covered the previous four weeks of Alert Level 2 and 1. In both surveys, coping strategies were examined with the Brief COPE Inventory and perceived stress was assessed with the Perceived Stress Scale-10. Participants were also asked questions on personal circumstances, appraisal of the lockdown, impact, daily routines, and the use of online coping strategies. Results showed that the number of adults who worked from home during the lockdown significantly and positively predicted perceived stress (i.e. increased perceived stress). Appraisal of the lockdown (as "positive", "mixed", or "negative") also predicted perceived stress. In Survey 1, 27% of the participants indicated that the lockdown had a negative effect on their mental wellbeing "fairly" to "very" often. This was associated with a significant increase in perceived stress. Participants who indicated that the lockdown "put a strain on relationships in their bubble" also experienced higher levels of perceived stress. The opposite was true for participants who indicated that the lockdown "allowed their family to slow down" or participants who "experienced less stress from work and/or school". Out of the coping strategies that were measured with the Brief COPE Inventory, self-blame, behavioural disengagement, self-distraction, venting, and planning predicted an increase in perceived stress. Emotional support and acceptance, on the other hand, predicted a reduction in perceived stress. The current study did not find any associations between perceived stress and the use of daily routines or online coping strategies. Based on these results, as well as the relevant literature, the use of (computer-mediated) interventions based on acceptance and commitment therapy is suggested to improve mental wellbeing and reduce perceived stress in New Zealand-based parents during COVID-19 related restrictions.