5 bad habits to break during lockdown and the science behind why
We explore which common bad habits you may need to evaluate during lockdown and why this matters
Many of us entered into the first lockdown in March 2020 with a sense of optimism; a chance to spend more time on exercise, to work on our health and to spend time with our loved ones. But nearly a year down the line, that energy has waned. We’re all guilty of developing some negative habits during lockdown, but may not appreciate the impact these could have on our mental and physical health.
Whether it’s the continued anxiety from isolation, health concerns, work pressures or fatigue from poor sleep, homeschooling and constant change, things are tough, and we are longing for the day when a sense of normalcy returns to our lives,.
The Vala team are here to have an open and honest conversation about 5 habits to break during lockdown, and the science behind why.
1 Switching off
Remember when you had a structured work day?
The morning commute signalled the end of your home commitments and the start of the 9-5. Leaving the office meant shutting down for the day so you could focus on your family or simply switch off for the evening. Perhaps you even walked or cycled to the office?
For those who have moved from office working to full-time WFH, it’s been a huge shift. If you’re finding it harder to switch off your laptop (or your brain) at the end of the day, you’re not alone.
A new report from Atlassian has shown that people are working longer hours due to Covid than they were previously. This may be good news for your boss, but not such great news for your mental health.
One of the biggest habits to break during lockdown is the inability to switch off in the evenings. We’d suggest retaining a structured work day from home. Try to get up, showered and dressed, start and end your day at roughly the same time.
In the evenings, try to switch off your devices and instead read a book, practice some gentle exercise or meditation and get your mind and body in the right mindset for rest. Sometimes even activities like taking a walk or having a shower can be a way to signify the end of the day and the transition into leisure time in the evening. It’s also important to rest your eyes if you spend most days staring at a computer screen!
2 Cabin fever
Have you been out for a walk today? According to the mental health charity, Mind, spending time outdoors (preferably in green, natural surroundings) is proven to benefit mental health.
It’s tempting to stay indoors during lockdown, especially as the weather has turned colder over the past months. But it’s more important than ever to get fresh air and exercise every day, ideally for 30 minutes, or longer if you can manage it. A regular, brisk walk in the fresh air can strengthen your lungs and get your blood pumping, which is great for your heart and for your mind.
Try scheduling a walk into your daily routine, perhaps after lunch. It can help to set a reminder to motivate you to get moving!
3 Step away from the cookie jar
We’ve never spent so much time in such close proximity to the food cupboard.
Whilst lockdown has given us more time to cook and enjoy meals at home, many of us have also increased our consumption of sweet treats and empty calories.
One of the best ways to break the habit of naughty snacking during the day, is to replace sugary things with healthy alternatives. Craving chocolate? Opt for 70% dark chocolate and try to limit yourself to a couple of squares. Increase your intake of fruit, veg, nuts, seeds and protein and you may find that you crave sugary treats less.
Remember, the occasional treat is fine (and frankly you deserve it). Just try to avoid making sugary snacking a habit.
4 Lose the booze
More than a quarter of people think they have drunk more alcohol during lockdown. This is according to research conducted by Alcohol Change UK.
Whatever your circumstances, it can become too easy to turn to a drink when things are tough. An occasional drink won’t do you much harm, but if you’re drinking every day, or you regularly consume more than the NHS recommended amount, it may be time to seek help.
Excessive alcohol intake has been shown to cause significant health and family issues. It can also damage your heart, liver and other major organs. If you’re concerned about your alcohol intake, or that of a loved one, speak to a GP, or contact an alcohol supportorganisation.
5 Mind over matter
How are you?
But really, are you ok?
You’re juggling work, childcare, shopping, cooking, exercise, eating right, staying in touch, staying inside and all the other pressures of lockdown. Failing to look after your mental health is one of the biggest habits to break during lockdown.
What does it actually mean to look after your mental health?
- Check in with yourself regularly to assess how you’re feeling
- Write down your thoughts and worries
- Reach out to friends and family for conversation and connection
- Make time to switch off your mind (through meditation or relaxation) and allow it to rest
- If you need help, ask. Speak to a GP if you’re concerned you may be suffering from depression, anxiety or another mental health condition
We’re here to help
At Vala, we’re always on hand to help you manage your physical and mental health. Our team of highly trained medical professionals operates remotely, meaning you can schedule a video or telephone appointment that fits around your schedule.
We specialise in functional healthcare, covering men’s, women’s and family health, pregnancy, fitness, mental health and medical conditions. Whether you’d like advice on how to develop better habits or you’re keen to discuss any concerning symptoms, sign up to book an appointment.