Healthy habits in the time of the COVID-19 lockdown
The current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic has been quite scary for us all and has created a lot of feelings of anxiety, fear and stress. We are all worried about what the near future holds and are unsure of what lies ahead. In order to get through this challenging time, finding ways to keep healthy (both physically and mentally) is really important.
Creating healthy patterns and behaviours and adapting to new healthy habits is my main focus with my clients in making sure that their healthy changes are sustainable. In this way, they are not just following a meal plan that is set out for them or counting calories for a few weeks. Instead, they are able to make changes to their everyday routines and lifestyles that will become new norms.
Examples of healthy habits may be:
Creating a regular meal pattern
Creating an exercise routine
Sitting down to eat at the table and eating from a plate only, instead of picking at foods all day from the pantry/fridge
Slowing down the pace of eating and focusing on enjoying meals
Drinking water with all meals, snacks and coffees
Filling up the plate with vegetables or salad
Change is difficult to start off with, but creating new habits through reinforcement of the same behaviours allows for new behaviours to become the norm. Therefore, it gets easier to perform the same behaviour the longer you do it for (i.e. it becomes your new habit). Starting off with a few healthy habits can create a solid foundation for building other new healthy habits too.
However, when an individual becomes dependent on their habits/routines, they may experience feelings of loss of control when there is a disruption in the environment. In our efforts to flatten the curve of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are now having to work from home, having to avoid our usual gym classes and we are lacking the structure that comes with having a normal work or school day to plan meal times and snack times around.
When one’s sense of normality has changed, the first thing to go is routine (and habit) and it is easy to revert back to old, possibly less healthy habits (once the routine is broken). Some may find that when they are feeling out of control it can be a slippery slope that tends to lead to a whole lot of unhealthy habits.
So how do we get back on track?
Start creating new healthy habits early (either to recover from habit-disruption or to start anew)
Accountability: Exercise with a buddy over a Zoom/Skype call or download a new exercise app to follow and have set days for those workouts; plan meals and shopping lists for the week; write down a few goals for the week and tick them off as you achieve them or cross them when you don’t to remind yourself to focus on those the next day.
Don’t give up on the goals that you had set before the pandemic started. You may need to adjust certain behaviours for working towards those goals but it does not mean that they are unachievable.
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Learn to be more flexible and that it is OKAY not to have everything in perfect order. Consistency is what is key, and we just need to find our own consistencies at this new pace now ☺