Coronavirus lockdown = New habits - Specialist Nutrition Rehab

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08 Apr 2020

Coronavirus lockdown = New habits

 

How are you coping with the new “normal” of Coronavirus lockdown?  And how are your clients coping?  Some people seem to be doing great – cooking from scratch more, meal planning, trying new foods and recipes and increasing their physical activity level (with Zoom fitness classes at home; moving exercise equipment into the garden; or walking/cycling more if allowed outside).  I’ve even had clients start to engage BETTER with video rehab therapies now that their schedule is free from other distractions and they are feeling less stressed overall.  Other clients, however, seems to be struggling with lack of routine, boredom, lack of physical activity, excess Netflix/social media and comfort eating.

What’s the difference between these two groups of people?  My impression, is that this unusual situation just magnifies what the person was doing before the lockdown.

However, any change to routine, whether it is from Coronavirus lockdown, vacation or bank holiday, is the perfect time to set the wheels in motion to develop new, healthy habits. So which new habits do your clients want to cultivate and which ones do they need to tweak in order to accommodate the current situation?  For example, my workouts have all been moved outdoors (with social distancing of course!) and have now been extended to offset the dance classes and kayaking that I’m no longer allowed to do.  There is also a lot more meditation and reading – both of which I love, but I never seem to have enough time to do when I’m juggling other activities. But I’ve also had to impose a limit on television/Netflix, because while that’s an incredibly easy habit to fall into, it isn’t a habit that I want to develop and then have to unlearn later on.

 

If you don’t want something to become a habit, don’t do it two days in a row.

James Clear, Atomic Habits

 

Here are my top five tips to help your clients emerge from lockdown fitter and healthier than ever:

 

1. Encourage a routine.

Structure is really important right now, especially when everything else is so uncertain.  Spending the day in your PJ’s can be super tempting (I’ve done it!), but is that a habit your clients want to develop?  The routine doesn’t have to be rigid, but I find I get way more done when I have a rough outline for how I want to spend the day (even though I rebelled against this at first).  Loosely scheduled times for cooking and physical activity can add a lot of structure to the day and a meal to look forward to (at a set time) can curtail the urge to graze/snack all day long.

 

2. Help clients initiate new tiny habits which are healthy…such as physical activity, healthy cooking from scratch, meditation…it’s their choice.

But if they want something to become a habit (meaning something they will do consistently forever without thinking about it), they need to start small….REALLY small (meaning it must take less than 2 minutes to perform)…and they need to do it everyday at first.  For example, my new tiny habit this week is to do one sun salutation (yoga) when I get back inside from my walk/cycle.  I can always exceed the goal whenever I want, but I’m intentionally keeping the goal tiny so that I can be consistent and there is a 100% chance of success. To read more about the philosophy and practice of tiny habits, check out my other article HERE.

 

3.  Help clients resist the urge to develop unhelpful habits which they are going to have to unlearn later on.

Netflix, social media, computer games, watching the news multiple times per day, Deliveroo….are these habits helping or harming their physical and mental health?  While there is no harm to doing these things in moderation, are they becoming the exception or the rule?   I find these activities are the things I turn to when I don’t have a plan for my day or when I haven’t established other healthy routines.  So instead of trying to do these things less (which is hard and makes people rebel because they don’t like being told what to do), help them spend time cultivating and filling their days with healthier habits instead.

 

4.  Encourage/assist clients to schedule Facetime/Skype meals and coffee dates with friends.

Social isolation, loneliness and feeling disconnected are the biggest risks to clients right now, so we need to offer a viable solution if we don’t want them going out and putting themselves at risk.  This felt a bit strange the first time I did it, but I love it now and it gives me something to look forward to. Set a time  so that both of you have your meals ready, then get dressed up, light some candles and sit at the table with your ipad/tablet and chat away just like you would over dinner in a restaurant!

 

5.  Help clients plan their meals

Many people are already doing this out of necessity, but encourage clients to plan out their meals for the week and then come up with their food shopping list/online delivery order based on that.  This ensures they have all the ingredients they need, reduces food waste and stops extra trips to the supermarket.  Also, since people are now stuck in the house with food all day long, encourage clients to resist the urge to buy biscuits, cakes, etc which are just going to sit in the cupboard and tempt them all day.

Note: a few clients have been under the mistaken impression that if they didn’t receive a letter from the NHS that means they aren’t vulnerable and can still go out to the shops which obviously puts them at risk.  I would invite you to discuss this with your clients just so they are clear about what they need to do.

From what I’ve seen in the supermarkets, food availability is no longer an issue (aside from pasta, rice, flour and toilet paper).  Please let me know if your client are struggling to access food and refer to my articles on: “Vulnerable clients, food shortages & online deliveries” and “COVID 19: Novel food shopping delivery options” for tips which might help.

 

Lockdown is the perfect time to help clients “practice” the healthy habits which we want them carry on once restrictions have lifted.

If there is anything you need or that I can do to help, please get in touch at info@specialistnutritionrehab.co.uk or 0121 384 7087.

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