As we head into 2021, the impact of COVID-19 on Americans will begin to come into focus, revealing just what these hectic months have meant for all of us.
No doubt there will be lots to keep historians busy, but one conclusion already being made is that collectively we are all more determined than ever to become healthier. And our definition of health is expanding beyond our fitness levels.
That was the finding of a recent study by Medifast, the company behind a health and wellness community called OPTAVIA®. Medifast’s survey of 1,414 U.S. adults sought to discover how Americans are thinking about and planning to act on health and wellness in 2021.
What they found is encouraging for the state of mental and physical wellness in the country.
In fact, 63% of those polled have already adopted new, positive health routines since March, Medifast reported, suggesting that the pandemic has inspired respondents to prioritize their health year-round and not just as New Year’s resolutions.
Interestingly, survey results suggest the country is as focused on mental health as physical with many of the changes being made relevant to both, including exercising for the mental health boost it can provide (24% reported doing this), eating healthier (23%), being more mindful (22%) and getting better sleep (20%).
When asked to prioritize their intentions, many put mental wellness above purely physical goals. Three out of five (61%) said they would prioritize healthy eating habits over work-life balance in 2021, according to Medifast and about 70% would prefer to sleep well each night over meeting a fitness goal.
More than half of Americans, ages 18-34, agreed with a statement that the pandemic has changed the way they are thinking about (54%) and prioritizing (55%) their health and wellbeing for 2021 and, drum roll please, 43% said the pandemic has changed their perspective on what it means to have a healthy mind.
"The unprecedented nature of this year has accelerated a shift in how Americans view their health and wellness,” said Dan Chard, chairman and CEO, Medifast, in a released statement, about the findings. “Instead of making grandiose changes on January 1, people are prioritizing their health year-round and taking a more holistic approach to wellness.”
These shifts in attitude bode well for the future of mental health care in the coming years and will hopefully lead to conversations and action on creating better access and availability to treatment and support for those looking to make changes.
People will be looking for that kind of support as they continue to prioritize their wellness, Medifast said in its findings report. In fact, 74% of those surveyed said they would be looking for support to maintain their new, healthier habits.