College of DuPage Nursing Student Alyssa Powell wrote for Healthy Lombard that now that we reached the one-year anniversary of the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders, it is important to reflect on certain habits throughout this time of quarantine. If the habits involved binge-watching all three seasons of The Crown last week, it may be a time to be kind to oneself. Many reporters have echoed that we are living through ‘unprecedented times’; maybe, any activity that brings one joy should be cherished. Yet, certain activities are not only joy-inspiring but may also be healthy as well. Interacting with a support system is such an activity.
According to the Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry (2020), older adults who use resources like Skype to interact with others have been found to have a significantly lower risk of depression. This interesting report is encouraging for those who are apprehensive about technology but are looking for a reason to make social connections during the quarantine.
A concern while binge-watching TV shows, however, is binge-eating; consuming an entire bag of Cheetos is actually very unhealthy. During quarantine, an alarming 32 percent of individuals report they have gained weight from snacking, stress eating, and eating comfort food, while only 15 percent say they have lost weight (Peachman, 2021). During these unpredictable challenges, it is important to remain focused on what we can control. Each of us has the ability to control many decisions such as: where to expend energy, how to respond to challenges, when to do household chores, and even when to ask for help. These seemingly small decisions offer a feeling of empowerment and may provide a healthy outlet for stress while persevering through the ongoing challenge of quarantine.
Reducing binge behavior is easy to talk about, but not as easy to implement. If you struggle with motivation to become healthier, maybe your partner can assist. In a recent study published by JAMA Network Open (2021) a report indicated that the health behavior of couples is similar, as are heart disease risk factors, for better or for worse. The best way to help your partner become healthier is to lead by example. The first step to a healthier lifestyle can be small, such as swapping a piece of chocolate cake for blueberries, or yogurt for whipped cream.
If eating healthier sounds too daunting, reframe the goal and expected outcome. If the goal is to be healthier, there are a plethora of methods to get the same result. Starting with exercise may be more realistic for your needs. Think of exercise as any intentional movement to improve your health. Daniel Hatcher (2020) suggests, challenging oneself to perform a healthy habit each day, like taking a 15-minute walk, drinking eight glasses of water, or swapping social media scrolling for a hands-on project. The journey to healthier habits does not have to be linear or uniform.
The secret to healthier habits is to simply start doing them. It can be overwhelming to acknowledge an unhealthy habit, but that discomfort can be used to motivate change. If changing for yourself is not motivation enough, utilize your support system for reinforcement. Think of the decision to choose healthy habits as a contribution to your partner’s health. Healthy habits are always welcomed but especially encouraged during the pandemic. There have never been more incentives to take the first steps for a healthier lifestyle.
Bad habits come in pairs. (2021). Harvard Women’s Health Watch, 28(6), 1–7.
Hatcher, D. W. (2020). Remembering Self-Care When Planning Events. Parks & Recreation, 55(12), 22–23.
Healthy Habits We’ve Learned in the Pandemic. (2020). Consumer Reports on Health, 32(8), 4–5.
Peachman, R. R. (2021). Eat Healthier-Even during a Pandemic. Consumer Reports, 86(2), 42–50.