Build Healthy Habits

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Identify new healthy habits you want to build.
  • Deploy new strategies for making small changes that deliver big impact.

The Power of Daily Rituals

Most of us have a regular routine that we follow each day. It likely includes things like commuting, going to work, preparing meals, running errands, and getting exercise; and may also include childcare, caring for other family members, walking the dog, and more. We might do slightly different things on different days or at different times, but for most people, there’s a basic pattern we follow.

With COVID-19, that routine and regular pattern has been disrupted. That means that all of us have an opportunity to revisit our regular routines, and potentially, develop some new, healthy habits in times of crisis.

As you’re considering how to adjust to your new reality, here are some habits you may want to add to your daily, weekly, or monthly routine.

Habit #1: Maintain Connections

If you’re staying at home more often now, you might be missing the human interaction you got from being around your colleagues at work, or visiting with friends and family during your free time. So why not build a new habit around staying connected with the people you care about? Consider these strategies.

  • Set up a weekly phone call “date” with a friend or family member.
  • Arrange a video call with friends or family.
  • Arrange a regular virtual meeting at work, purely for socializing or having fun.
  • Send an email, text message, or e-card to someone you care about.
  • Start an online discussion with friends or colleagues around a theme (for example, “Everyone share a photo of your home office setup” or “Share your best tips for working remotely”).

Two people connecting in a video meeting

Habit #2: Stay Active

If you’re cooped up in your home, and you’re used to getting exercise outdoors, it might seem overwhelming to get exercise inside. But physical activity has so many benefits beyond cardiovascular fitness; studies show that exercising 3 to 5 days per week is beneficial not just for your body, but for your mind, too. As you’re looking to build a new habit around staying active, even with limited space, consider the following options. Keep in mind that depending on where you live, exercise outdoors may or may not be an option.

  • Take a walk, jog, or run.
  • Ride a bike or scooter.
  • Follow an exercise routine that works in small spaces, like a series of squats, jumping jacks, arm circles, pushups, or crunches—you can find many online exercise classes offered for free now.
  • Take stretch breaks throughout your day.
  • Fit in micro-moment exercises throughout your day, like a 3-minute wall sit or an upper body stretch.
  • Put on music and have an impromptu dance party.

Person stretching

Habit #3: Get Creative

Everyone needs a creative outlet, whether it’s playing a game, drawing a picture, putting together a jigsaw puzzle, or writing a poem. Whatever your passion is, give yourself permission to express yourself creatively. Consider these ideas.

  • Put together a puzzle.
  • Play a board game.
  • Color in a coloring book, or make your own.
  • Draw a picture.
  • Write a story, poem, or blog post.
  • Build something fun using LEGO.
  • Do a crossword or sudoku puzzle.
  • Sew, knit, embroider, or crochet.
  • Play a musical instrument or sing.

Person dancing

Habit #4: Relax

Finally, in times like these, it can be tempting to take on too much. If you’ve spent the entire day caring for other people, give yourself permission to rest, recuperate, and relax. In the next unit, we’ll dive into strategies to help you build resiliency and reduce stress through the practice of mindfulness.

Person relaxing at home

Small Changes Have Big Impact

It can seem daunting to try new things. Start by making small changes. For example, try to take a walk once a day, even if it’s a short walk around your house or yard. Set up a calendar reminder to call your friend or family member. And instead of catching up on email at night, give yourself permission to do a puzzle, play a game, or read a book.

To get started, try just doing one of these one time this week.

  • Read a magazine or start reading a book.
  • Do a crossword puzzle.
  • Learn a new skill.
  • Do a sudoku puzzle.
  • Call a friend on the phone.
  • Take a stretch break.
  • Meditate for 15 minutes.
  • Write a poem.
  • Try a new recipe.
  • Play a new game.

Then if you enjoyed the activity, try to do it again the following week. Use a calendar app to add reminders or block the time.

Having a regular schedule of activities can be helpful, especially in times like these. Try out adding these healthy habits to your regular routine.