Let me start by saying that I am not here to help you organize your pantry or learn a new language; rather, I’m here to help you navigate this chaotic time in a way that hopefully lends positively to your life. The fact of the matter is that our lives have hugely shifted, and all those habits we’d worked to cultivate - over the course of months and weeks and years leading up to this - were disrupted when that shift happened. And maybe you’ve found ways to adapt some of those habits or even create new ones, but maybe you’ve lost some of your habits or adopted less desirable ones.
With this in mind, I put out an informal, anonymous Instagram survey in my stories to determine which habits people have been cultivating that they rather wish they weren’t. Of the 50+ respondents, here are the top undesirable yet widespread habits being formed at the moment: 1) day drinking / increased alcohol consumption, 2) increased online shopping, 3) increased time on social media, and 4) increased time “at work” while working from home. If you’ve noticed yourself building any of these habits, read below for some ideas on how to mitigate and move forward. You’ll notice that I don’t approach these habits with the “completely squash them!” mentality. That’s because habits are hard to break, and it’s more important to have success (even if it’s a smaller success) than it is to try and be a complete perfect human.
This one was by far the most common submission I received. And I get it. It’s hard to break up the day when you’re at home for the entirety of it, and transitioning from “coffee time” to “wine time” helps provide a bit of a structure. However, this is clearly not the healthiest habit out there, nor one that folks seem very proud of themselves for building.
One way to shift this habit would be to set a daily intake limit: 2 drinks, for example. If you hold yourself to having no more than 2 drinks a day, then you’ll have to decide if you want those 2 drinks in the afternoon or in the evening, but you won’t be able to drink all day long (although I suppose you could if you very slowly sip.. Your call).
Another way to approach this would be to schedule alcohol-free days. This might sound silly, but write it in your planner, put an alarm in your phone, or tell the folks you’re quarantined with -- do whatever you have to in order to hold yourself accountable. Better yet would be to get anyone you’re quarantined with to get on board too, so that you can hold each other accountable. If you have pre-planned non-drinking days, you’re more likely to follow through with it.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do, online shopping has made a huge upsurge. Stores, used to having revenue from physical locations in addition to their online storefronts, are blasting out sales left and right to bring in more customers, and their marketing is increasingly relevant; “Our comfiest loungewear yet…”
My first tip here: set a firm budget. Consider what you normally spend in a month (whether on recreational shopping, eating out, etc) and develop a plan that stays within those bounds. Maybe you normally spend $200 / month on eating out but are eating entirely at home this month. Okay, if you really want to, use that $200 for some online shopping.
However, I urge you to think through your purchases. Usually acquisition of “stuff” offers only the slightest, most fleeting satisfaction. Consider how you might instead put this money into a savings account for an experience after quarantine. Maybe you can take that trip to the beach or have a camp out in the mountains, thereby putting your money toward something you’re more likely to remember than a 54th pair of leggings. It might be hard to wait (especially since we don’t have an end in sight as of yet) but it can give you something to dream about and look forward to.
A second idea: find a cause to which you can donate. Meals on Wheels, for example, is helping provide food to those who need it most during this time. If you’d like to keep it local, send some lunches from a local eatery up to your hospital to help feed frontline workers. Putting your money toward a cause has the potential to provide a much deeper satisfaction and feeling of purpose.
This one is big right now as folks find their options for external stimulation more limited than usual. My advice for this one is pretty straight forward: limit your time. Apps like SPACE or AppDetox allow you to set time limits to your use of apps, locking you out after that time has been reached. This is a simple and effective way to hold yourself accountable.
Another idea is to have a phone-free day of the week. Choose a single day where you turn your phone off, set it on your bedside table, and do not touch it. “What about if I need to make a call? What if an emergency happens?” -- people lived for thousands of years without cell phones; you can make it work for a single day. If you’re driving or hiking or doing something where having the option of making an emergency call could be helpful, then bring your phone but don’t let yourself access it unless it truly is an emergency. Keep it on silent and out of sight. Most people fear these phone-free days but actually find them a lot easier and more enjoyable than they would have thought. Challenge yourself to give it a try!
If you’re finding that you’re spending more time working due to the lowered boundary between work and home, you are not alone. You might consider reading the blog I wrote about effective ideas for working from home, but my biggest tip here would be to set up in a space that you can walk away from at the end of the day: the guest room or some space you don’t otherwise use. If your living arrangement doesn’t allow this, then set an alarm for your day’s end and stick to it. Make yourself physically pack up your space and tuck it away; as the old adage goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” This also makes it harder for you to dig back into work later (as opposed to your laptop being out for “just a quick email” during dinner).
...We’re all experiencing a massive and unforeseen shift. It’s likely that you’ll have some ups and downs throughout this time - building negative habits and maybe also some positive ones. Know that this is normal and part of being a human, but also recognize that if you want to trend toward positive, it is within your power.
Brooke is a contributing author for Tada Rugs. Tada Rugs is a 5x7 yoga mat disguised as an artistic area rug that you never have to put away. Tada is short for tadasana, or mountain pose, and our own backyard in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado is where we find our inspiration. Check out our new designs, enter for a chance to win a new Tada Rug, and be sure to follow us for deals and insider specials! Like us on Facebook, follow us on Instagram, or contact us through our website! Tie a room together and bring your practice home.
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