As the COVID-19 pandemic lingers, many of us are finding it difficult to maintain healthy habits and practices, let alone promoting these behaviours in our children.
Between balancing multiple responsibilities, and spending more time at home, maintaining a semblance of normalcy in our routines, and ensuring the activities we engage in are both constructive and beneficial to our health can be daunting. While it may be frustrating and overwhelming to worry about changing one more area in your life right now, taking even a few small steps to tweak our routines can lead to incredible positive changes in our overall well-being.
Here are 10 healthy habits and behaviours you can implement to help you keep COVID-19 anxiety at bay.
No.1: Adopt a healthy and balanced diet
Good health is important now more than ever.
So, make it a habit to opt for healthier, more nutritious options. Emotional eating as a response to anxiety is very prevalent, especially given the current circumstances. With that said, practicing self-discipline is imperative because good health starts from within. A balanced diet does not have to be bland and tasteless.
Make the food you eat fun! Look for colorful and nutritious recipes with some of your favorite ingredients. The key is to start small and gradually build healthier eating habits.
No.2: Connect with nature
There’s no denying that staying cooped up at home for so long can take a toll on your mental and physical health.
Lockdown is still a reality for many of us, so many social activities are out of the question. With that said, you can follow local guidelines all while supporting your own well-being. Taking the time to connect with nature is a wonderful way to release built-up anxiety, relax, and unwind from daily stressors.
If you can’t go for a walk, then merely sitting on your balcony, porch, patio, or in your backyard can be beneficial.
Appreciate the sunshine, enjoy the fresh air, and relish the vibrant colors of nature!
No.3: Don’t be too hard on yourself
Not every day will be perfect. You might feel stressed and overwhelmed, you might make unhealthy choices, and you might encounter numerous setbacks. But keep in mind that it’s not an “all or nothing” type of situation. These are difficult times and we’re all trying to adjust to the best of our abilities. Your loved ones are probably going through the same thing, so don’t hesitate to reach out for support when you need it.
No.4: Get ready (even when you’re not going anywhere)
Wearing formal or even semi-formal attire has become a collective nightmare that we had to deal with ever since the first lockdown.
Being home most of the time makes it so easy to give up on getting ready. But rotating between the same three pairs of sweatpants isn’t doing us any favors. You can still be comfortable but look and feel more presentable. Getting ready can act as a form of mental commute. It instantly switches your mindset, so you go from couch potato mode to work mode in a few minutes. So, you feel more productive and more prepared to tackle the challenges that lie ahead.
No.5: Keep a healthy sleep schedule
Sleep is unfortunately one of the first things we sacrifice when our routines undergo some changes. Adequate sleep is crucial to our overall health and well-being.
Studies   show that getting enough sleep can enhance your memory, improve your mood, reduce your anxiety, boost your immune system, and help you maintain a healthy weight. So, make sure you’re getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep on a regular basis.
No.6: Maintain a daily exercise regimen
Staying active and maintaining a daily exercise regimen is essential to cultivating healthier habits.
Exercise results in the release of happy hormones like serotonin and endorphins that promote positive feelings. It’s also a great way to release tension and let go of your worries and anxieties, at least for a few hours.
Lockdown may have taken away your gym access, but there are many ways you can keep active right at home. Aerobics, yoga, jump rope, and targeted workouts are but a few examples.
So, try different types until you find one that you enjoy -or at the very least tolerate.
No.7: Reshape your current environment
Your environment can hinder or stimulate your productivity. Decluttering can be very therapeutic just as it can help you achieve cleaner surroundings. Habits are triggered by cues, so for instance, if you work in the same area you sleep in, you are more likely to feel tired and exhausted during the day, but even when you’ve just woken up.
You need to reshape your environment so that each individual area serves a different purpose. Creating specific “zones” in your house can help you compartmentalize different tasks and responsibilities. You can further enhance your healthy habits and set yourself up for success by relying on visual triggers and cues to remind you of maintaining those healthy habits.
No.8: Stay hydrated
We’re 60 percent water, so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that hydration is paramount to our health.
Research   shows that drinking more water not only helps you prevent drastic weight fluctuations but it also helps you think more clearly, boosts your digestion, and regulates your energy levels.
Health experts recommend drinking anywhere from 2.5 to 3.5 liters of water per day. If you don’t really like water, you can try adding natural flavor enhancers like mint, lemon juice, ginger, or cucumber.
No.9: Tap into your creative side
Instead of working all day and retreating to your bedroom at the end of the day, add some variety into your routine. Engaging in different activities will help you overcome procrastination and will keep you from losing your mind throughout the day. Redirect your energy and tap into your creative side.
Try cooking a recipe that piques your interest, reading a book you’ve always wanted to read, play music, listen to a podcast, try some arts and crafts. You don’t have to be a creative person to do these activities. Simply investing your time in shifting your focus to something outside your usual scope can help you feel more centered and grounded.
No.10: Try to avoid “quick fixes” as a stress-relief method
Stress can make us resort to destructive habits. These quick fixes can only provide momentary relief until we feel down again, and we repeat the same pattern of counterintuitive actions. This is why we’re often stuck in a vicious cycle of self-sabotage.
The key here is to cultivate a better sense of self-discipline and healthy boundaries. Make sure the limits you set for yourself allow some degree of flexibility. The 80/20 approach can be beneficial in this case. It means you get to make healthy choices 80% of the time (and unhealthy ones 20% of the time), which is definitely an attainable goal that can help you build better habits.
During these times of stress, pressure, anxiety, and uncertainty, it can be easy to fall back into destructive habits and neglect the routines we spent months or years cultivating. But for us to effectively deal with the daily difficulties the pandemic brings, we have to maintain a healthy lifestyle that supports our physical, mental, and emotional well-being. The 10 habits and behaviours mentioned in this article are a great starting point to help you create your personalized self-care and wellness routine.