A new Harris poll confirms what most of us already know – we are stressed and anxious about the effects of COVID-19. Pollsters found that more Americans are fearful of experiencing increased anxiety than paying their bills or job-related issues.
Researchers respond that the finding does present some good news as there are several ways to maintain good mental health by making small behavior changes. Investigators also discovered Americans continue to express feelings of gratitude, hope, and resilience.
University of Phoenix researchers discovered more than two in five (41 percent) of Americans say they are most concerned about experiencing increased anxiety. This concern is reported more so than not being able to pay their bills (33 percent), reduced job salary/work hours (26 percent), or losing employment and not being able to get a new job (22 percent).
Respondents expressed other mental health concerns as well. More than 2 in 3 Americans (68 percent) say they feel like everything is out of their control right now and more than half (56 percent) say they are balancing more now than ever before during this pandemic.
Although Americans report feelings of being overwhelmed and anxious, they also express feelings of gratitude and hope with 65 percent saying they are thankful for their health, family and friends.
Moreover, researchers discovered Americans are also looking toward the future when social distancing guidelines are lifted. The survey found nearly 2 in 5 (38 percent) are optimistic that the country will come out of this pandemic stronger than ever and 30 percent are making plans for a post-pandemic future.
Still, many Americans are worried about the long- term mental health repercussions of being quarantined. The vast majority of Americans (84 percent) say that if the social distancing continues longer than they expect, it will have an impact on their mental health.
“While many people are currently feeling anxiety, there can be several ways to maintain good mental health by making small behavior changes,” said Dr. Dean Aslinia, counseling department chair at University of Phoenix.
“Instead of texting or emailing, make a phone call or use video chat to build a more meaningful connection. Build activity in your day by trying something new or setting a goal for yourself to start a new project.”
Experts believe that people should understand that it is okay to seek professional help, if your negative feelings persist. Many mental health practitioners are offering virtual counseling sessions so you can have someone to talk to without leaving the house.
Another positive finding from the survey was that people are implementing personal strategies to improve their mental health.
Indeed, if there is a silver lining in social distancing, the survey suggests that many people are engaging in activities to maintain connections and improve their mental health. Some tactics include:
• checking in with a loved one — 60 percent;
• increasing exercise — 35 percent;
• limiting news consumption — 30 percent;
• performing acts of kindness for others — 29 percent.
“It is encouraging to see some people take this time to practice habits that will improve their mental health,” said Aslinia.
Researchers believe that some of our current anxiety may result from our prior activities, actions and choices.
“Feelings of anxiety are not solely due to isolation or social distancing. The everyday choices we make including technology overuse, impersonal interactions and engaging with people that are unhealthy for us, all lead to anxiety.” Aslinia said.
“If something good can come from this pandemic, we can hopefully recognize the need for intentional behaviors that maintain and improve our mental health.”
Source: University of Phoenix