Talk about Life Change! The whole world is going through a HUGE life change right now with the Coronavirus pandemic and quarantine. Our whole world has turned topsy-turvy.
The sacrifice is worth it, though. Most of us are anxious for the health and safety of ourselves and our family members. So, we’re doing what needs to be done– social distancing like champs and staying home.
Your Healthy Habits Are Suffering
While your short-term health is foremost on your mind (with the coronavirus pandemic), ironically all this upheaval may be ruining your long term health. The healthy habits that you’ve worked so hard to build just don’t seem to work anymore.
More and more people are complaining to me,
“Help, I can’t stop eating.”
Or, “How can I get a good workout when I can’t go to the gym?”
Or how about this one, “I’m staying up too late! With work, workouts, homeschool, kids, it’s hard to fit it all in.”
And, then there’s, “I’m so stressed that I can’t seem to get motivated.”
Turning the Tide
All the key habits of health and weight management– eating right, moving more, sleeping well, and managing stress–are under attack.
But, you don’t have to accept anxiety, weight gain, and poor health as your “new normal.” With a few simple hacks, you can turn the tide. You can prevent backsliding and even end up healthier on the other side.
Compassion Before Everything Else
First of all, before anything else, have compassion for yourself. You aren’t alone. Everyone on earth is going through the same seismic shifts to their routines.
We’re all feeling stressed and anxious for the health of ourselves and our families, for our finances, and what this all means for the future of our society. (I’m getting stressed just writing all that down. )
Of course, you’re finding it hard to stay focused and motivated on your healthy habits (or anything else for that matter). But taking care of yourself not only improves your mood and your long term health but also your short-term disease fighting capability.
2 Reasons Healthy Habits Aren’t Working
Most people are having trouble with their health habits during quarantine for two reasons.
1. Your Good Habits Are In Tatters
There was a sudden shake-up of everyone’s normal routines. It’s kind of like a hail storm rained down on your garden of healthy habits.
Everything is in tatters– including your healthy habits. You have to go back and nurture those healthy habits back again.
2. New Bad Habits Are Popping Up
You’re stressed and anxious on a global scale. Your subconscious brain doesn’t like to feel bad, so your brain is on the hunt for new (or old) coping habits. It turns out that your subconscious brain really likes unhealthy things. Who knew?
Staying up super late to binge-watch Netflix?
Finding yourself rifling through the pantry more times than you can count?
Maybe it’s five o’clock somewhere every night at your house?
You’re not alone.
Everyone’s subconscious brain is finding ways to feel better–too bad they all seem to be destructive ways…
No wonder all those bad habits started popping up like weeds in a Southern garden! There was no motivation or willpower “mulch” to keep those things out.
And just like pesky weeds, the longer your bad habits hang around, the stronger their roots.
Nurture Your Good Habits After the Storm
First, how do you nurture your good habits back in place?
When you are stressed and anxious, your motivation becomes very low.
Surprisingly low. Things that used to be easy and routine, now feel sooo hard.
The key to nurturing “tattered” healthy habits back into place (after or during the storm) is to make them super easy to do.
And you make them easy to do by making your habits super small. I’m talking CRAZY small.
When you make your habits itty-bitty, it means that you don’t need a lot of motivation to do them. Which is great because NONE of us feel super motivated right now.
So if you aren’t feeling like eating vegetables right now, maybe you eat one baby carrot at lunch and dinner.
If you can’t make yourself walk two miles, maybe you just walk down the driveway.
You’ll eventually feel more motivated, but until then, you’re locking in your healthy habit and starting to feel better. And progress towards any goal, even if its tiny progress, feels great.
Weed Out Your New Bad Habits
Now, how do you round up and control all your bad habits that seemingly popped up overnight?
Remember that your motivation is probably at an all-time low. The same goes for your willpower.
So how do you get rid of those pesky, bad habits?
Make the bad, unhealthy habits hard to do, and the good habits simple to do.
Then, you don’t even need willpower to get rid of your bad habits.
Let’s say that your bad habit that popped up during quarantine is snacking all day long. Make a good habit easy to do. Keep a basket of apples on the kitchen table. Then, make your bad habit hard or impossible to do. I have clients that put tempting snacks in high cupboards, keep them in their car trunks, or have their spouses hide them. And if all else fails, you could go nuclear and stop buying tempting snacks. If you wanted a snack, you’d have to make a special trip to the store. And no one wants to do that right now.
Get Your Family or Friends On Board Too
Whether you’re trying to instill good habits or weed out bad ones, you can find extra strength by enlisting help from others. Ask your spouse, kids, or friends to help or join you in your healthy habits.
Still Stuck? Get Help.
If you’re still feeling stuck, you can still get help from a professional dietitian nutritionist like me (helping you via telehealth video or phone calls).
You’ve Got This!
Stay safe–and healthy everyone!