COVID-19 could encourage more of us to practice self-care finds new survey

People who catch COVID-19 but don't show symptoms may have significantly lower levels of immunity against the virus than those who become severely ill, say researchers

A new US poll has found that as many as 80 percent of American adults will try to practice self-care more regularly once the COVID-19 pandemic is over.

Carried out by The Harris Poll on behalf of Samueli Integrative Health Programs, the new survey asked 2,051 US adults aged 18 and over about their health during the current pandemic.

Many participants reported that their health had suffered as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, with 47 percent reporting feeling socially isolated, 30 percent reporting a lack of energy, 29 percent reporting that they had difficulty sleeping and 29 percent reporting that they were exercising less. Nearly half of the participants (46 percent) also said that they are struggling to find ways to maintain their whole health, including physical, mental and spiritual health, during the pandemic.

However, the good news is that compared to before the pandemic, around one third of those surveyed said they are practicing more creative activities (35 percent) and engaging in more meaningful conversations with friends and family (31 percent). One in four also reported spending more time outdoors or eating more healthy foods.

Moreover, a majority (64 percent) said that they are more focused now then ever on looking after their mental health, and a large majority (80 percent) said that they will be more mindful about practicing self-care -- which includes following a healthy diet, regular exercise, managing stress and other behavior changes such as quitting smoking -- regularly once the pandemic is over.

However, nearly half also said they wish they had more guidance and support for practicing self-care during the pandemic. 

"The pandemic threatens the mental and physical well-being of every American. People are seeking ways to manage their stress, but it isn't enough," said Wayne Jonas, MD, executive director of Samueli Integrative Health Programs. "As we adjust to a new normal, we need to foster a robust, patient-centered healthcare system to better promote self-care."

"The findings from this study show the critical need for a system that empowers individuals to maintain healthy habits they formed and emphasizes strategies that support self-care -- like good nutrition, exercising, and stress reduction -- alongside guidance from physicians."