Ask The Expert: 4 Ways to Make Healthy a Habit in Times of Stress
During this difficult time of social distancing and spending more time at home, how do we make healthy habits part of our new routine?
The stay-at-home order and global pandemic have changed our routines and increased stress for many. Building healthy habits into your routine can keep stress in check, and it’s easier than you think.
Maggie Little, senior healthy living director for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City, suggests the following ways to make healthy a habit.
1. Celebrate success.
“When you’re stressed and feel like making healthy choices is out of your reach, take a moment and celebrate your successes. Watch a favorite show or movie, make a healthy smoothie or other good-for-you treat, and take time for some self-care such as an at-home pedicure. For the family, set goals together and celebrate when you achieve them by playing a game or making a favorite dinner.”
2. Remember everything counts.
“Small healthy habits still count toward your overall goal of living an active life. These small healthy habits add up to big increases in activity over the course of a week, month, and year. Add activity to your daily life by doing things such as completing a breathing exercise while waiting for your kids to get their shoes on, parking farther from the grocery store entrance, or walking to the post office instead of driving. When it comes to food, set some light parameters about portion size to help yourself and your kids understand which foods they can have extra helpings of, such as fruit and veggies, and which foods they can have a small portion of, such as ice cream or chips.”
“Add some activity while doing something else. Right now, that might mean walking laps around your house or yard while you catch up with friends and family members on the phone. Or prioritize activities that check necessary chores off your list and also count as physical activity, such as yard work, gardening, and vacuuming.”
4. Have fun.
“Try physical video games like dancing, bowling, and yoga. Play tag, hide and seek, or plant a family garden outside as the weather warms this spring. Play ‘I Spy’ while you hike or walk together, and look for different plants and trees, which is fun for kids of all ages and teaches lessons about nature, too. There are lots of free resources on the web, including hundreds of free online exercise and wellness videos for all ages at KansasCityYMCA.org/OnlineWellness. Just get the entire family involved—and make it fun. It can lead to a healthy lifestyle, now and after the pandemic.”