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June 16, 2022

Five unhealthy pandemic habits to break

Adult Health COVID-19

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Just think of all the ways COVID-19 has upended your daily life. Many of the ways we used to work, shop, and gather with friends and family changed nearly overnight back in March 2020. Now, after more than two years of living through the pandemic, you’ve likely formed a lot of new habits — and some of them may be detrimental to your health and well-being.

As things continue to return to some form of “normal,” here are five unhealthy habits that are worth breaking now.

1. Turn off the TV and get moving

Streaming movies and binge-watching season after season of your favorite shows may have saved you from boredom during the pandemic, but all that time on the couch may have also caused you get a bit out of shape. Now’s the time to cut back on sedentary activities and spend more time engaging in physical activity. Whether it’s starting a new fitness routine or getting outside in the garden, make a plan and get moving today!

2. Dial back on the booze

The pandemic was stressful, and a lot of people began drinking alcohol more often as a result. Even with bars and restaurants closed, liquor sales went through the roof — but now it’s time to kick the alcohol habit. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends no more two drinks in a day for men and no more than one drink for women. The health impacts of excessive alcohol consumption are significant, and they add up over time — with liver disease, for example, not showing symptoms until it is well-progressed.

3. Adjust your diet

Pandemic stress has affected people’s diets, too. The early days of homemade bread eventually gave way to delivery services that made unhealthy food and snacks available at any time of day. Consider getting back into the routine of making weekly trips to the grocery store for healthy food options that can be made at home. Work in a mix of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean meat. Avoid the preservatives and saturated fats found in many of the snacks you might find comforting and opt for something nutritious instead.

4. Reduce screen time on your mobile devices

Watching TV wasn’t the only thing straining your eyes during the pandemic. Endless scrolling through social feeds also skyrocketed, and our eyes suffered accordingly. Eye strain leads to fatigue, blurred vision, and even headaches. Screen time is also associated with poor posture, which can result in an achy back and neck. Just as importantly, there have been multiple reports on negative mental health impacts of spending too much time on social media.

5. Reset your sleep hygiene

Despite being at home more, your sleep quality may have suffered during the pandemic. Poor sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, heart disease, and even type 2 diabetes. Quality sleep can be affected by many of the habits on this list, but its greatest enemy is the lack of a consistent schedule. Going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, as well as getting seven to eight hours of sleep each night, is vitally important for your physical and mental well-being.

With vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 now widely available, the worst of the pandemic is hopefully behind us. If you developed any of the five unhealthy habits discussed above over the past two years, now is the perfect time to make a change and leave them in the past.

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