Hold Your Pandemic Habits

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The following is a print review of several longer stories published this week called the 7 Day Well Challenge. Below are links to the full stories.

Looking back at 2020, bans and pandemic restrictions forced many people to start new routines. Work pendulums disappeared. Fitness classes have been canceled. Houses became classrooms and workplaces.

Some people blossomed with all the changes; others fought.

“The experience of 2020, tough as it was, had many lessons,” said Gretchen Rubin, author of the book, “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.” “Some people’s habits have improved – often when they use the time they normally spend on business travel or commuting, exercising, cooking, reading, or other healthy habits. Other people’s habits deteriorated because they were under stress or were torn out of their usual helpful routines. “

As you ponder the changes and challenges of the past year, you have an opportunity to recycle your best pandemic routines and build on them in the new year. Here are five habits you can keep.

Pandemic Habit: During this crisis, we learned that we are all interconnected and that taking care of ourselves – staying safe and healthy is also a way of caring for our community.

Recycle the habit: Continue to make self-sufficiency a priority after the pandemic ends. If you are someone who believes you don’t have time to care for yourself, or if it seems selfish and indulgent, you are not alone.

“One of the things that you keep coming across is the idea that I can’t invest in things that are good for me because it robs me of my ability to be a good parent or to do what I have to do Work, ”said Kelly McGonigal, Stanford University health psychologist and author of The Willpower Instinct. “Wouldn’t it be great if we learned how to be interdependent and if we actually have some kind of joy in knowing that when I take care of myself, I often take care of others too?”

Self-care isn’t just a nap or a hot bath to get away from family. It’s about setting priorities, setting boundaries, and finding a purpose. Start mapping on a typical day, from morning to bedtime. You probably sleep eight hours – but how do you spend the other 16 hours? List the time it takes to prepare meals, get work done, shop, watch TV, wash up, help children with homework, care for an aging parent, or catch up on emails. (Wirecutter, the Times recommendation site, has reviewed the best time tracking apps and recommends Toggl.)

What is the one or two hour period in each day that you feel best about? Your most energetic? Your most productive? Now look at your list. Who gets these lessons? Instead, try to give yourself this time.

This doesn’t mean taking a break from life. It means focusing on your priorities, not others. You can use that hour or two for a hobby, a work project you feel passionate about, time with your kids, or even volunteering. Focusing on your personal goals and values ​​is the ultimate form of self-care.

Pandemic Habit: To prevent the virus from spreading, everyone learned to hold each other accountable by wearing a mask, restricting contacts and keeping their distance.

Recycle the habit: While you still need to take precautionary measures against pandemics, you can build on your accountability. Find someone responsible to help you meet your health goals. You can check in to a friend’s home every day to talk about healthy eating. Make a plan to go for a walk with a friend. You can create public accountability by posting your goals on social media.

If you prefer to be accountable only to yourself, you can be accountable by using an app that will send you daily reminders such as: B. Headspace or Calm for meditation, Noom for tracking your diet or Fitbit for tracking your exercise habits. You can even hold yourself accountable through a daily journal entry.

“We do better if someone is watching,” said Ms. Rubin, who wrote the book on Habits. “Even if we are the observers!”

Pandemic Habit: When the gyms closed and fitness classes were canceled, a lot of people had to figure out how to exercise at home.

Recycle the habit: Instead of trying to plan a long workout session, take small training breaks throughout the day. Take a walk after a long meeting. When you’ve been on an appointment all day, take a break and do some yoga stretches. Do jumping jacks or wall push-ups while listening to the news or a podcast.

Several studies show that short breaks in exercise lead to significant changes in your fitness and metabolic health. Begin with 20-second exercise breaks three times a day. If you want to do more, take a few minutes off.

“You don’t have to do any structured exercises. You can just be active, ”said Martin Gibala, professor of kinesiology at McMaster University, whose lab has conducted several studies on short bursts of exercise. “It is much easier to start activities when you do it in these small workouts. Every little thing counts. “

Pandemic Habit: According to a survey by Axios, Last summer, nearly half of Americans said they formed a capsule or social bubble – a select group of friends who are supposed to help them navigate pandemic life.

Recycle the habit: Don’t dissolve your pandemic capsule if Covid-19 restrictions end. Keep it to support your health goals. Even if you haven’t had a quarantine capsule, you can still form a new health conscious bubble in 2021. Create a hiking capsule and meet a few times a week for group hikes. Or talk to your podmates about their healthy eating goals. They can share recipes and tips, and plan potlucks for healthy eating after the social restrictions are removed.

It took a pandemic to teach some people what many cultures have long known – that social networks can help us live healthier and happier lives. In Okinawa, Japan, which has one of the longest average life expectancies in the world, people form a type of social network called a moai during their childhood – a group of five or more friends who offer social, logistical, emotional, and even financial support a life long. Members of each moai also appear to influence the other’s lifelong health behaviors.

Several communities in the United States have tried to reproduce the moai effect by creating health moais from like-minded people who go out together or share healthy meals. After Dan Buettner, a National Geographic contributor and writer, persuaded 110 people in Naples, Florida to potluck moai, 17 percent said they had lost weight and 6 percent reported an improvement in blood sugar.

Forming groups of friends to help you achieve your goals is one way to sustain your healthy habits, said Buettner, author of Blue Zones Kitchen, which studies healthy eating habits in regions where people live longer. “It’s the best intervention you can invest in,” he said. “It’s long-lasting and has a measurable impact on your health and wellbeing.”

Pandemic Habit: In the early days of the pandemic, people panicked, hoarding toilet paper and packing their pantries to deal with the uncertainty of shutdowns.

Recycle the habit: Plan for uncertainties and compile a collection of legal documents to ensure everyone is prepared for an emergency.

Start with a three ring binder. While you should make a digital copy of all of your important documents, it’s good to have a physical folder that your loved ones can access during a crisis. The first few pages should contain a list of your important documents – banking information, insurance papers, and important contacts. However, the most important document in the folder is your prepayment.

An upfront referral should designate someone to make medical decisions for you if you cannot make them and provide specific advice on what to do if you become seriously ill. The correct documents for your state can be found on the AARP website (aarp.org/caregiving).

And here’s a surprise: if you sit down to imagine a serious health crisis and the guidance you want to offer a surviving family member, it doesn’t have to be depressing. Use the process as an opportunity to reflect on your values, your hopes for aging well, and what makes life worth living. It can be like traveling back in time and helping loved ones in one of the most difficult moments of their lives.

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