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Break Those Bad Pandemic Habits

Adopted some unhealthy habits through the past few years? Break them now!

By Karen Kwan

The past three years have not been easy. With several lockdowns forcing us to live isolated from friends and family, many of us turned to whatever we could grab onto when it came to finding comfort, entertaining ourselves and making it through one day at a time. Unfortunately, many of these newfound habits and pastimes are not so great for our wellness. Now that most of the world has opened up and many of us are living as we did before – including going back into the office and being able to socialize and take part in our old pastimes – it’s time to kick those less-than-healthy pandemic obsessions and routines to the curb.

Drinking excessive alcohol?

With so much time spent cooped up at home, many of us indulged in alcohol more frequently at home through the past few years (and chances are your serving size is more than a bartender would pour for you). Canada’s new drinking guidelines, released in January, recommend restricting alcohol consumption to no more than two drinks per week. 

How to cut back on drinking: If your consumption isn’t a problem and you’re just looking to rein in your consumption a bit, a simple way is to find satisfying beverages to replace your boozy ones. The non-alcoholic beer choices have exploded (try Partake and Athletic Brewing, to name just two), and if you put some effort into making cocktails with non-alcoholic spirits such as those from Seedlip, you won’t feel like you’re missing out by limiting yourself to two drinks per week.

Addicted to screen time?

With much of our work and social lives switching to virtual, and spending more time at home, being on your phone or tablet all the time has perhaps become as natural as breathing. But not only does excessive screen time prevent you from living in the moment, it can have a negative impact on your mental health. Plus, the light from your screen can disruptive your zzz’s by disrupting your body’s release of sleep-inducing melatonin.

How to reduce your screen time: Plan to participate in something fun and challenging, so that you’re motivated to put that phone down – perhaps it’s a pottery class or learning a new language. Also, set an appointment in your calendar as your no-screen time cut-off. If you time it for 8 pm every night, for example, designate a spot tucked away from easy access so that you aren’t tempted to pick it up until the morning.

Living a sedentary lifestyle?

With gyms closed and lockdowns keeping us indoors at home, our active lifestyles fell to the wayside. Keep in mind that working out at home isn’t for everyone. 

How to get active again: Thankfully, gyms are open again and we can also get outdoors to get in a good sweat session. If you’re finding it hard to get off the couch, get inspired by trying something new to you. You might try pickleball, the fastest-growing sport in North America; or, instead of catching up with a friend over drinks, meet up at a sauna and ice bath spot (such as Toronto’s Unbounded Well or Othership) and catch up over some contrast therapy.

Eating an unhealthy diet?

Gaining weight through the pandemic was common. The world’s circumstances had many of us turning to comfort foods full of fat, sugar and salt, compounded by the fact that we were living less active and more stressful lives. 

How to eat a healthier diet: Skip the packaged snack food aisles at the grocery store. If you don’t have junk food easily accessible at home, you’ll be less likely to consume it. With that in mind, delete your food-delivery apps from your smartphone; the idea is to make it more difficult to order fast food so that you’re limited to cooking and eating the fresh ingredients you’ve stocked up on. That said, allow yourself to enjoy a portion-controlled serving of your favourites so you don’t feel deprived (deprivation can increase your cravings, leading you to overeat). Have a small scoop of gelato for dessert if that’s your go-to sweet, or enjoy a glass of your favourite red wine as an occasional treat.

KAREN KWAN is a freelance health, travel and lifestyle writer based in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter @healthswellness and on Instagram @healthandswellness.

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