Nobody expected that the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic would be in full swing a year later. The world we used to know has changed, and many people are struggling to adapt to this “new normal.” Some of them struggle so much that they take refuge in unhealthy habits and coping mechanisms.

If you happened to develop an addiction during the pandemic, you are not an isolated case. However, substance abuse is never beneficial to your health, even though it offers short-term consolation. Fortunately, as experts from the say, it’s never too late to change your lifestyle. Even though it might be challenging at first, there are some strategies that can help you develop new, healthier habits. If you want to change your life for the better or help someone who does, keep on reading!

Define Your Goals

New habits aren’t developed overnight. You’re starting out by introducing some controlled actions, and it takes time to internalize them. At this point, the most important thing is to define your goals and decide which habits you want to cultivate.

Keep in mind that if you pick too many things you want to change in your life, you’re not likely to succeed. You’re going to lose your focus along the way and you might end up relapsing. Start small, and keep adding new habits gradually. You may want to quit drinking, eat healthy, work out more, spend less time on social media, stop procrastinating, and so on. These are all important changes, but be realistic.

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Make a Plan

Once you’ve decided what changes are the most essential at this point in your life, come up with a strategy to implement them. Small steps will take you closer to your goal, and it will be easier to take them rather than run the entire marathon.

If you want to work out regularly, start from shorter, beginner-friendly routines. Do you want to eat healthy? Read about ingredients, check out various recipes, and eliminate unhealthy snacks from your diet. If you’re struggling with addiction, look for activities you can do instead, figure out what your triggers are, and consider reaching out to a specialist. Regardless of what your goal is, make a few stops and checkpoints along the way.

Be Consistent

Studies have shown that it takes a little over 2 months (66 days to be exact) to develop an automatic behavior, and between 18 to 254 days to form a completely new habit. Needless to say, repetitions and consistency are necessary if you want to succeed.

While it’s easier said than done, contextualizing some behaviors might help you a lot. If you want to work out more, find a specific time of the day to do it, for example, before breakfast. After some time, your brain will prepare itself for the workout, and you won’t have to force yourself to do it. If you slip up once or twice, you may even feel guilty for skipping the workout to eat your breakfast.

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Be Ready for Setbacks

Changing your old ways is not easy. You’ll follow your plan to the letter on some days, and have the urge to give up on others. As such, you may feel the need to skip that workout, get a drink, order fast food, give in to your cravings, or stray away from your routine in any other way.

It all happens because you’re looking for comfort in your old habits, as new changes may be difficult and uncomfortable to you. Don’t beat yourself up if you slip up once or twice. However, try to get back on track and re-enter your healthy habits as soon as possible. Otherwise, it will be extremely difficult to keep the changes going.

Relax and Unwind

The pandemic, the new reality, restrictions, uncertain future, and your personal issues may cast a shadow over your life. Understandably so! You can also add the pressure of maintaining new habits and staying away from your old ways. As such, you need some downtime to keep it all together.

Pick a time during the week where you can relax and reflect on your progress, plans, and challenges. Use it to unwind and take a break, rest, and do something you like (as long as it doesn’t involve the habits you want to quit). You’ll enter a new week with strength and enthusiasm, and you’ll be motivated to continue your journey towards a better, healthier life.

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The Bottom Line

Unprecedented situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, tend to turn people’s lives upside down. Many of them are trying to find consolation in unhealthy ways, such as drugs or drinking. Stress and uncertainty make them lose focus on what used to be important in their lives, and unhealthy coping mechanisms, while helping on a short-term basis, do more harm than good.

If you’re going through a rough patch in your life, consider implementing small changes in your daily routine. Instead of turning to possibly addictive behaviors, try developing healthier habits. On your way to a better lifestyle, you’ll eliminate bad habits by default. You may encounter some setbacks, but if you remain focused and consistent, you’ll change your life for the better and overcome any challenge that comes your way.