To say that routines have been disrupted this year is an understatement! We are all juggling remote work, kids at home, or online learning, as well as new ways to shop for food or work out. There likely isn’t a single aspect of your life that hasn’t been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Even the way you eat and spend your spare time has changed — in fact, studies indicate that the average American gained weight during the pandemic, a trend that is often referred to as the “Quarantine 15”. It’s directly attributed to more time at home and more downtime that we fill with snacking or self-soothing behavior around food as a result of increased anxiety. An approach to soothe ourselves that may not be the most healthy.
Instead of focusing on how different things are and pining for the “good old days,” let’s refocus on what you can do to get back to taking care of yourself. Focusing on your routine can do just that. Here are our four simple habits that will help you to reclaim your life and help restore effective habits for your self care. These will not only get you back to routines that work for you, they will help you improve the quality of your life for the long term.
Habit #1: Challenge Yourself
Did you know the brain has neural plasticity and that it can be altered and changed for the better? MRI studies show that the brain lights up when it is even subtly challenged building new connections and improving brain function. That’s why learning a new skill, sport, or activity is so good for you. Here are some ideas to challenge your brain:
- Take up meditation.
- Try a different routine like brush your teeth with your non-dominant arm.
- Say the alphabet backward. Or just say the alphabet with just the consonants.
- Take ten minutes to try something new — or try something old that brought you joy.
- Get back to old interests — especially activities you loved as a kid. Think bike riding, playing catch, kicking a ball with alternating feet, or finding time for a good book.
Challenge yourself to move beyond doing what’s easy and normal and find new things to try.
Habit #2: Be Intentional with Food Choices
For too many of us — especially this year — eating food has evolved into an unintentional habit. Perhaps you even use food as a way to soothe yourself rather than for nourishment. Instead, be intentional with your choices. It is critical to think of food as a need for fuel and not a cure for boredom. Think about:
- What you feel before, during, and after eating. Do you feel satisfied? Happy? Disappointed?
- How you’re reacting to your feelings?
- Why are you eating — are you even hungry? Or are you just thirsty?
When you begin to bring these things to mind, you will naturally slow down and be better equipped to be present and truly enjoy and taste what you’re eating
Habit #3: Be Kind to Yourself
Think about the safety training on an airplane. “Put on your own oxygen mask before helping others.” That’s not selfish — helping yourself first actually allows you to help more people.
Apply this concept to a broader view of self-care throughout your day and throughout your life.
Perfection is not required. Instead, protect and nurture your core needs:
- Good food in appropriate quantities
- Adequate recreation and vacation
- Time with family and friends
It is never “all or nothing.” Living at the gym isn’t going to give you the life you want. You have to learn to be comfortable in the space that gets you to your goals, with balance, and at the pace that is right for you. Encourage small steps in the direction of your goals and you will get there.
Habit #4: Sleep
The most important habit of them all.
Experts say 7 hours of sleep at a minimum and 8 is even better. Naps, of about 20 minutes up to 45-minutes, are helpful, too. Study after study keeps proving that following a sleep schedule with a consistent bedtime and 7+ hours of sleep helps you become healthier. Sleep deprivation can be linked to increased heart attacks, increased irritability (Yes it’s scientifically proven that you get cranky when you are sleep deprived), and cumulative brain deterioration. This deterioration is linked to Alzheimer’s. We have no cure for this terrible brain disorder but we know how to prevent it, adequate sleep.
Bring Back Your Healthy Habits (And Learn New Ones!)
This year threw us all a curve and made it easier than ever to wreck our routine and get off track. That doesn’t mean you have to stay off track! Let these four habits help you get back to healthy routines, or even learn some new approaches.
These are simple — and they can and will dramatically improve the quality of your life. If you need help, the Specialists at Well Effect are ready. Contact us and let’s set up a consultation to talk about your unique situation. We can discuss what habits you need to bring back and how to improve your health.