Many of us have been sheltering in place for almost a year now. This unprecedented disruption has forced us to adapt our lives to the crisis and change our habits. Some changes are positive though and others might be less healthy. We’re all opposing new levels of stress and anxiety during the lockdown, which means we’re all at risk of slipping into unhealthy habits. Subsequently, now might be a good time to pause and take stock of our behaviors, keeping an eye out for any warning signs of deeper issues.
The Bad Habit
Addictions of all types such as shopping, alcohol, and video games tend to share the following red flags:
- You avoid or give up any activities not related to it
- You feel depressed or preoccupied when you’re not doing it
- You do more of it than you intend regularly or repeatedly break bargains with yourself on when you will stop doing it
- You tell lies about what you’re doing, or how much you’re doing it
- You feel guilt after doing it
Other people complain about what you’re doing could be:
- You neglect personal hygiene, nutrition or self-care
- You avoid people who might question or criticize what you’re doing
- You continue to do it despite negative interpersonal, psychological, work-related, or legal consequences
These can all be indicators that a habit might be developing into addictive behavior. If you’re concerned about any of your habits, here are some simple ways to test your response:
To help you cut back on mindless chewing, bring food into your home that is nutritious and satisfying. You’ll be less likely to indulge in nutrient-rich foods such as proteins, vegetables, and fruits.
If you find yourself eating in secret or eating to relieve depression or if your eating habits changed significantly while sheltering in place, write down what you eat. Keeping a food journal can make you aware of problematic patterns before they risk developing into an eating disorder.
If your drinking has begun to interfere with one or more aspects of your life, it’s worth looking into. These interferences can be subtle or drastic. Try to set a goal that limits the number of drinks you’ll have and how often you will drink. For instance, if you usually drink every day, set a goal to drink every other day. Limit yourself to two if you usually have four drinks. Later, take a moment to write down how you felt without the alcohol, what your thoughts were, how difficult it was for you, whether anyone noticed, and if you experienced cravings for alcohol.
Even though the pandemic is still there, shopping can be a complex subject since it is inescapable. There are lots of online services offered where you can shop what you want. We all need to shop for food and other supplies sometimes. It’s when we shop for things we don’t need or use shopping to relieve uncomfortable feelings such as depression and anxiety, it becomes a cause for concern.
If you’re worried, develop a budget for yourself that accounts for all necessary expenses. Write down what you will buy and the amount that you only need to spend. Review your budget and expenses from time to time with an accountability partner.
4. Video Games
Gaming can be a great way to relax and just have fun, especially when we can’t leave our homes. There’s no shame in occasionally getting swept up in a game and playing past your bedtime, provided that you’re still able to function in other areas of your life.
The easiest way to test your control over your gaming habits is to set a timer on your phone for when you will stop playing.