During the COVID-19 pandemic some Australians turned to artistic creative activities (ACAs) as a way of managing their own mental health and well-being. This study examined the role of ACAs in regulating emotion and supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic, and also attempted to identify at-risk populations. We proposed that (1) participants would use ACAs as avoidance-basede motion regulation strategies; and (2) music engagement would be used for emotion regulation. Australian participants (N = 653) recruited from the general public complete dan on line survey, which included scales target tin anxiety (GAD7scale), depression (PHQ9scale) and loneliness (two UCLAL one lines Scales, referring to “Before” and “Since” COVID-19). Participants reported which ACAs they had undertaken and ceased during the p and emicusing an established list and ranked their under taken ACA sin terms of effectiveness at making them “feel better.” For their top-ranked ACA, participants then completed the Emotion Regulation Scale for Artistic Creative Activities (ERS-ACA),and if participants had undertaken any musical ACAs, also the Musical Engagement Questionnaire ( Mus EQ). The results supported both hypotheses. ANOVAs indicated that participants ranked significantly higher on the “avoidance” ERS-ACA subs cale than the other subscales, and that participants ranked significantly higher on the emotion regulation and musical preference Mus EQ subscales than the other subscales. Additionally, while ACAs such as “Watching films or TV shows” and “Cookery or baking” were common, they ranked poorly as effective methods of emotion regulation, whereas“ Listening to music” was the second-most frequently undertaken ACA and also the most effective. “Singing” and“ Dancing” were among them ost ceased ACA sbutal so ranked among the most effective for emotion regulation, suggesting that support for developing pandemic-safe approaches to these ACAs may provide well-being benefits in future crises. Additionally, correlation analysess howed that younger participants, those who took less exercise during the pandemic, and those with the highest musical engagement reported the poorest well-being. We conclude that ACAs provided an important resource for supporting mental health and well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic in Australia and could potentially support mental health and well-being in future crises.
The COVID-19 pandemic has taken a substantial global toll on health and well-being. As of 12 March 2021, over 117 million people had been infected with the virus with over 2.6 million deaths. These deaths and restrictions to contain the disease have had immense socio-economic implications (Nicola et al.,2020), which together place a burden on overall mental health and well-being (Fisher et al., 2020; Khan et al., 2020). During 2020,daily life changed radically for many, with lockd own sand social-distancing measures being implemented to curb infection rates (Lewnard and Lo,2020; Warren and Bordoloi,2020) .Individuals and group satalllevels of society have had to manage the consequences of these changes. Health workers have had their duties augmented, with many working to monitor infections pread, care for those infected, and implement rigorous ssanitizing and personal protection procedures to minimize their own exposure o the virus (Nienhaus and Hod,2020). Many retail and entertainment businesses have crumbled, sought temporary government support and/or adapted their business models by offering services online (Bartik et al., 2020; Kim,2020; See thara man, 2020), while other forms of employment have required workers to transfer their duties to home ( Bonacinietal., 2021). The creative industries (e.g., film, advertising and fashion, as well as creative occupations suc has musicians, dancers, actors, visual artists and designers) have faced immense pressure due to the rapid spread of the virus and physical distancing restrictions. Losses in these industries between 1 April and 31 July 2020 in the United States alone have been estimated at 2.7 million jobs and more than $150 billion USD in sales of goods and services,with the fine and performing arts industries being hardest hit(Florida and Seman, 2020). Many creative and performing arts organizations have also turned to online alternatives (Keller,2020). The pandemic has thus caused a great deal of stress and fear, even for those who have not been infected (Pfefferbaum and North, 2020). Alongside these negative impacts, the COVID-19 p and emichasal so provided some positive creative opportunities for adaptation (Ka poor and Kaufman, 2020; Kirchner et al., 2021). Emerging evidence suggests that social-distancing measures and stay- at- home orders have encouraged engagement in