Social distancing rules, closed gyms and a global health crisis can make you think there is no way to build up great health habits. But more than ever, this is an ideal time for you to start and develop health habits that will last a lifetime.
One reason this is true is because in most states, except for essential workers, many people are still working from home. And while this may even have seemed jarring at first, employees and companies alike are realizing that we can stay at home and still be productive. This has also opened up something very interesting for a lot of remote workers – time. In the past, you may have had to commute for an hour to two hours to get to and from work. Now that you don’t commute, the slower pace of life makes it possible to convert that time into time for building new health habits. Another reason why this is a perfect time to build new health habits is for instance, since you are home and less likely to eat out, you have better control over the meals you eat. You can choose healthier ingredients.
So what habits can you pick up and develop in this season? Here are five examples of health habits you can pick up and build during this period.
Health habits you can develop while in quarantine
A daily exercise routine
At least 30 minutes of moderate exercise five times a week is a recommended standard for healthy living. If you have children or pets, this could be one way to build family time into your routine while getting healthier. Since we are in the warmer months now, you can do everything from running, brisk walking to strength training outside. If you’re wary of walking or running or walking outside, there are multiple ways for you to exercise indoors or within the confines of your home. You can use resistance bands, skipping ropes and weights to stay fit and healthy without stepping outside your home. And if you’re looking for inspiration on what to do, you will find several great channels on YouTube and other social media networks.
Research shows that when you’re working towards a goal with peers, you are more likely to accomplish the goal. If you find that building habits on your own is difficult, there are groups and communities like SparkPeople that can keep you motivated. The key to building a regular exercise habit is to keep it simple. It’s easy to fall into the trap of wanting to run 3 miles and then do strength training for 2 hours just so you feel you are really into it. But like the old adage says, slow and steady wins the race.
The goal is to become consistent with your exercise routine. It’s easier to be consistent when you break tasks down into doable chunks. So start easy and build your way up.
Making healthy food choices
It is also an excellent time to make those healthier food choices you’ve always wanted to make. You’re able to do this now because:
- There is no pressure to join the office party going down to the cafeteria (to spend money you didn’t want to spend in the first place)
- Several eateries and restaurants are still closed
Restaurant meals are well-known to contain more salt and fat that a person regularly needs. Now that most of us are mostly confined to our homes, this is an excellent time to start building a healthy food choice habit. You can now learn and prepare new recipes that incorporate natural foods that are rich in vitamins and minerals. Additionally, you also have the choice to reduce how much salt, fat or sugar you add to your meals. You have more control over your food choices and this is a great thing.
Whether you lost a loved one to COVID-19 or have been terrified with new happenings around the world and country, the events of this year have had an deep emotional effect on people. Journaling is a well-researched and recommended practice that allows people to process their grief and emotions. Journaling helps to improve the symptoms of stress and anxiety by:
- Helping you prioritize your fears and concerns
- Learning about what triggers feelings of fear, and the symptoms associated with anxiety or stress
- Identifying negative thoughts and behaviors
- Giving you an opportunity for positive self-talk and encouragement
And doing all of this can help you come up with a plan to navigate an emotionally tasking time. If you decide to go see a mental health professional (we highly recommend this), it is likely they will recommend journaling as a coping tool as well.
Deepened interpersonal relationships
Great interpersonal relationships are correlated with better mental health and the ability of people to cope with stressful situations. Time at home with family is one of the gifts COVID-19 restrictions have given us. This can be a time to deepen those relationships with loved ones.
Develop a nighttime routine
If you have felt like your nighttime routine has been thrown off, you are not alone. However, productivity at home depends on having a night routine that allows you to get adequate sleep at night. If you’ve never developed one, this is a great time to develop a night routine that will make you more productive than ever. Here’s a simple yet effective nighttime routine you can adapt and make your own.
- Turn off all cell phones, tablets and television. If you will need your phone for work the next day, plug it into a charger in a room other than your own or somewhere out of reach from where you will sleep. The blue light from your screens interferes with sleep.
- If you like tea, this could be a good time to drink a cup of tea as you muse on the happenings of the day.
- Brush your teeth, wash your face and change into your sleep clothes.
- Pick up a book for leisure reading and read 10 pages.
- Turn off your lights.
Following this or a similar routine will eventually “instruct” your brain to get you ready for bed and you’re likely to sleep better.