We can sometimes find what’s best in ourselves at our lowest moments.
With COVID-19 bringing the global economy to a standstill, destructive times like these have brought out the best and worst in us. Especially considering that many of us now have a lot of time on our hands away from work and our friends, we’ve begun to learn more about ourselves than we may have initially thought.
And in that process, we can sometimes discover not only what’s not working for ourselves, but how to improve it to live a happier, healthier life. That’s why we’ve put together some notes on how things like the global pandemic can actually be a great wake up call to getting the ball rolling on a better life.
Destructive times can be a great teacher of not only what we’ve been doing wrong, but what’s become exasperated due to the pandemic. An excellent example of this is with drinking, where before the pandemic, the average American clocked in approximately 2.3 gallons of alcohol per year. However, the pandemic has led to reports of Americans drinking more than normal. Granted, this sometimes can come in waves, where the initial stress leads to drinking more, but on average, behaviors like this can have long-lasting effects.
Reflecting on our behavior can be tough. While we all have an ideal image in our head of what we envision our perfect selves to be, many of us have a hard time trying to achieve who that is, as well as if it’s someone we’d genuinely enjoy being. Instead, being healthy is about striking a balance between discipline and reward. Plus, what’s the sense of improving our lives if we’re not going to enjoy the spoils of it?
To improve upon the things we want, one of the first considerations is learning how to focus on your day-to-day. People often agonize this part of the process, viewing it as something that’s tedious and painstaking. However, a big part of changing habits is genuinely enjoying the new behaviors you’re picking up, especially on a daily basis.
We stress that making the commitment to daily activity is vital because repetition is what forms a habit. In fact, it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, with the average coming in at around 66 days. For this reason, actually enjoying what happens in that time is vital, as anything else is just going to feel like depriving yourself. Instead, learn to make a change with a sense of enjoyment over defining a better you.
When taking things in stride, it’s important to celebrate the little wins. Obviously, trying to take everything on all at once can cause more stress than it’s worth, often making us resort back to our bad habits we’re trying to separate ourselves from. A more effective strategy is to first parse out the things you want to do, as well as an action plan to achieve them.
Let’s say for example that you want to get back into running, as well as quit smoking. Obviously, taking on the task of running first can help motivate the cessation of smoking, which might not come with quitting cold turkey. A good strategy many use in transitioning is a smokeless alternative that doesn’t contain tobacco, beginning to remove yourself from the act of smoking at hand while still getting your fix. Of course, this is always with the notion that you’ll eventually quit, progressing towards keeping a healthy lifestyle in general.
Regardless if we’re in an upswing or not, keeping a healthy lifestyle should be a lifetime goal. The biggest way to do that is not only putting in the work day-in and day-out, but also knowing how to apply a balance to your life. As we don’t want to deprive ourselves of the things we love, we also need to know how to be disciplined enough to make them treats.
Additionally, we need to not beat ourselves up if we make a mistake and get off track…things happen in life, and as such, we need to treat ourselves with a sense of humility and empathy. Taking the time to really map this stuff out for yourself will help with keeping a ‘marathon mentality’: one equipped to keep running through the race of life.