With daily life turned upside down for so many months, you may be eager to trade any bad habits you’ve picked up for healthier ones. One place to start is to have a checkup with your healthcare practitioner. Learning that your blood pressure is elevated, for instance, could help you kick start better lifestyle habits. Here are some more suggestions:
Get to the root of stubborn habits. Anxiety, boredom, loneliness and other troublesome emotions can trigger unhealthy “coping” responses—whether it’s overindulging in snacks or alcohol, or endless TV series watching or smartphone scrolling. Recognizing the underlying emotion that triggers an automatic unhealthy response can help you break it. Instead of mindlessly turning to your unhealthy indulgence, take a few slow deep breaths, focusing on the moment. Then get up, drink some water, go fold laundry, put on a playlist and dance, or call a friend.
Make your game plan solid. Overreaching and not having a strategy can defeat you before you get out of the gate. Say your goal is to rack up a ton of miles biking or walking to slim down by next month so you’ll fit into your jeans. Especially if you’ve been sedentary, it’s wiser to give yourself a more achievable time frame that includes mini goals. Start by walking around more often and going to more neighborhoods (or paths) for six months, gradually adding time and distance each week.
Stack your plan for success. Ordering out a lot and still not ready to cook? Try stocking up on healthy low-fat prepared meals. When you’re ready to cook, grab some easy wholesome recipes that feature more fruits and veggies, and less fatty, salty and sugary foods. Keep a bowl of apples, clementines and other healthy grab-and-go options in plain sight for snacking.
Get your support team together. Carve out time on your calendar for a shared activity as often as possible, whether that’s walking nearby trails, fixing healthier meals together, or playing a game of pickle ball. Be sure to follow safe social recommendations.
Avoid haphazard mealtimes or sleeping in! Eating at the same time daily can prevent a overeating or a dip in energy, while a regular bedtime and rising time can keep your body and mind functioning at its peak, giving you more stamina to stick to your behavior change plan.
Keep reviewing your pandemic habits. The new COVID-19 variant may require updating your masking, social distancing, and other habits. Go to: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/whats-new-all.html