Has COVID-19 Derailed Your Routine? Here’s How to Get Back on Track
During the coronavirus pandemic, much of life has felt out of control. Combine shifted routines, financial stresses, grief, and fear—and it’s no wonder so many have sought instant gratification by eating more or sleeping less.
Sometimes it’s hard to kick these unhealthy habits, even when you want to. Take a phenomenon called “bedtime procrastination.” It’s when you stay up late for no real reason, despite saying you aim to get a good night’s sleep.
Fortunately, experts who have studied behavior change know how to break these patterns. The next time you’re struggling, try this three-step plan to regain control.
Step 1: Choose a Goal—And a Motivation
Maybe it’s getting to bed on time or reining in your snacking habits. Be clear about the behavior you’re trying to adjust.
Then, paint a clear mental picture of the best outcome. With sleep, for instance, imagine how much better you’ll feel when you’re rested. If it’s indulging in sweets after lunch, see yourself working through the afternoon and staying focused instead of experiencing the inevitable energy crash.
Step 2: Predict the Obstacles
Now think clearly about something that might stand in your way. Perhaps it’s the allure of fresh-baked cookies when you’re home all day, or the desire to read another chapter, watch another TV episode, or check out just one more cat video at night.
Step 3: Plot Your Strategy
Finally, consider when this obstacle is likely to occur next. Plan how you’ll overcome it. Lock in your intention with an “if-then” phrase: “If it’s 9 p.m., I’ll stop whatever I’m doing and go to bed.” (You might even set a bedtime alarm.) Or, “If I’m hungry midday, I’ll reach for a healthy snack—an apple with nuts, or carrots and string cheese.”
Then, put it into action. Research suggests with this approach, you’re more likely to choose long-term success over short-term desires.
Reach Out for Help
Even if you really want to adopt healthier habits, it can be hard to actually make the changes and stick with them. And that’s OK! Don’t feel like you’re alone in this journey—our primary care providers are here to partner with you every step of the way.