How Some Simple Changes in Habits Can Help You Through This Tough Time


Because I’m an Upholder, the anxiety and uncertainty of the pandemic tends to make me more rigid. I cling to my routines and my to-do list, because they give me a feeling of control. (Don’t know if you’re an Upholder, Questioner, Obliger, or Rebel? Take my Four Tendencies Quiz to find out where you fit in this personality framework. More than 3.2 million people have taken it!)

But for many people, the pandemic period has made it tougher to stick to their good habits. If that’s your experience, here are some quick, easy suggestions to consider:

Trouble sleeping?

  • Set an alarm. If you have trouble getting yourself moving toward the bedroom, set a go-to-bed alarm on your phone to remind you to turn off the TV or the computer and head to bed.
  • Listen to a soothing podcast as you try to fall asleep; use the “sleep timer” so it shuts off after a certain amount of time.  These days, I listen to episodes of one of my favorite podcasts, In Our Time: History. I don’t worry about missing anything, because the next day, I just rewind until I get to the part of the discussion that I remember.
  • Get ready for bed well before you plan to turn off the light. I realized that sometimes, paradoxically, I felt too tired to get ready for bed, so I just stayed up later. Now I try to wash my face, put on my pajamas, and brush my teeth well before I plan to turn off the light.

More suggestions here.

Trouble getting yourself to exercise?

  • Walk for twenty minutes a day—or  for 20201, consider joining our challenge to Walk21in21!
  • Use the Strategy of Pairing and listen to your favorite podcast or audio-book only when you’re exercising.
  • If you’re an Obliger, get outer accountability. If you’re a Questioner, research to find the most efficient form of exercise. If you’re an Upholder, put exercise on the calendar. If you’re a Rebel, remind yourself, “This is what I want to do, what I feel like doing. I love to be outside, with the wind in my hair, biking around my neighborhood.”

Trouble putting down your phone?

  • Set your phone to “grayscale.” Easy, splashy, and effective.
  • Always have a good book to read, and consider replacing a “soul-sucking app” with your e-reader, if you read on your phone.
  • Use the Strategy of Inconvenience—during the times when you want to stay off your phone, put it in an inconvenient place so it’s a pain to have to go get it.

More suggestions here.

Feeling lonely?

  • Schedule a weekly call with a friend or family member, so you don’t have to plan and coordinate each time (you could also walk during these talks, win-win).
  • If you’re part of a group, such as a book group, that hasn’t been meeting in person, and you haven’t yet met virtually, schedule a Zoom call—it’s not perfect, but it’s better than nothing.
  • Join an online community around a topic or interest—apart from social media. Working on something together is a great way to forge new relationships, even during this strange time.

More suggestions here.

If you’ve been working on a habit during this strange time, what solutions and strategies have worked for you? We can all learn from each other.

If you want to think about habits to change in the new year, consider the “Essential Seven” to get inspiration.

It’s astonishing to me how sometimes, a very small and easy change can make a huge difference in how successfully we can stick to a habit.

Have you thought about any habits that you want to make or break, going forward?



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