Self-Care practices for anxiety during the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK in adults
Keywords:Anxiety, Mental Health, Self-Care, Covid-19, Qualitative
Introduction. The National Health Service cannot chronically sustain the overwhelming demands being placed on it due to financial cuts, staff numbers and presence of Covid-19. As a result, anxiety levels are on the rise thus increasing the need for effective self-care behaviors.
Purpose: The purpose of this study was to comprehend and acknowledge the profound influence Covid-19 has had on anxiety levels and explore what behaviors people engage in to manage their perceived stress levels themselves.
Methodology: This study was an exploratory mixed-methods design consisting of 110 self-referred adults aged 18-65 with anxiety completed an online survey guided by the “Harvard Anxiety and Depression Scale”. Data collected from the free-text questions were analyzed using the thematic analyses method to evoke the most relevant themes and generate an evidence-based narrative.
Results and Discussion: Self-care behaviors used for anxiety self-management pre and during lockdown were walks, virtual family/social peer support, cooking and aerobic exercise. Additionally, it was apparent that a lack of ongoing family/social support was a key predictor for the proclivity of anxiety-inducing thoughts to be experienced. Interestingly, individuals who continually engaged in activity experienced positive mood states irrespective of the current lockdown environment.
Conclusion: This study adds to novel literature on the current anxiety levels of adults living in the UK under the Covid-19 pandemic and what self-care behaviors people implement to self-manage their anxiety levels. This study stresses the significance of ongoing peer support as a self-care behavior that can act as a positive meditator for healthy cognitive processes to ensue. Therefore, future self-care programs advocating this strategy may, if not prevent, slow down the rising cases of anxiety and ill mental health due to the uncertain environment of Covid-19
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