Self-care is a vital part of overall health, including physical, mental, and emotional health. As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic has continued, a new survey found that many adults in the United States plan to be more mindful of their self-care habits.

The survey, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, found that 80% of respondents said they will be more mindful about practicing regular self-care once the pandemic is over. The survey included more than 2000 respondents and was conducted in May 2020.

“The pandemic threatens the mental and physical wellbeing of every American,” said Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, in a statement. “As we adjust to a new normal, we need to foster a robust, patient-centered health care system to better promote self-care.”

Nearly half of respondents (46%) said that they are struggling to find ways to maintain their overall health during the pandemic. Specifically, 30% reported a lack of energy, 29% reported difficulty sleeping, and another 29% said they are exercising less during the pandemic. Nearly half (47%) reported feeling socially isolated. Finally, 64% said they are more focused on their mental health now than ever before.

Despite these concerns, 44% said they wish they had more guidance and support for practicing self-care, which can include lifestyle changes, a healthy diet, regular exercise, stress management, and other behavioral changes.

Concerningly, a majority of respondents also reported disruptions in their regular and preventative health care services, with 55% saying they are scared to get health care during the pandemic. Among those who have had a household income reduction during the pandemic, 64% said they were scared, compared with 46% of those who had not experienced a household income reduction. Nearly half (45%) said they have failed to get preventive health care, such as wellness visits and standard vaccinations, during the pandemic.

“At a time when health care is needed the most, a majority of people are scared to seek it out,” Jonas said. “This not only leaves them without critical immediate care, it also halts necessary preventative care that is vital to chronic disease prevention and management. This change in health care access will likely have dangerous repercussions for the long-term health of our country. These are also the same risk factors that increase serious illness from COVID.”

Many adults also reported positive changes in their behaviors due to the pandemic, including 25% who said they are spending more time outdoors or earing healthier foods. Additionally, 35% said they are practicing more creative activities, 31% said they are praying more, and 31% said they are having more meaningful conversations with friends and family. A large majority (83%) said technology has been essential in helping them stay connected with others.

“As the country begins our recovery, it will inevitably create questions about the future of the health care system,” Jonas concluded. “The findings from this study show the critical need for a system that empowers individuals to maintain health habits they formed and emphasizes strategies that support self-care—like good nutrition, exercising, and stress reduction—alongside guidance from physicians.”

REFERENCE
Survey: COVID-19 Spurs Increase In Self-Care [Blog]. Dr. Wayne Jonas; June 2, 2020. https://drwaynejonas.com/covidsurvey/. Accessed June 8, 2020.