Structure has been our saving grace during the unending pandemic, when days seem to bleed into each other and the hours stretch on forever. The order that used to be imposed on my retired life by medical appointments, casual errands, breakfasts with friends, and dinner dates with my husband evaporated March 13, and I had to create structure from inside in order to make it these ten months.

In her recent article for The New York Times, Tara Parker-Pope urges us to continue the self-care habits that the pandemic imposed on us. Here are three strategies for encouraging healthy behavior.

Create accountability

We do better when someone’s watching, even when we’re the ones doing the watching.

Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits” as quoted by Tara Parker-Pope, NYT

I’ve set up my Apple Watch to ask me to breathe once an hour, and I often disregard it only to find myself spinning in place mid-day. Breathe!

When I graduated from pelvic floor therapy a year ago, I asked my nurse practitioner if I should continue doing the exercises. “Only if you don’t want to leak,” she said. Got it. I installed Easy Kugel on my iPhone along with reminders to do my pelvic floor exercises four times a day. I do them.

My healthy eating habits were organized by Weight Watchers for many years, but it only worked when I actually tracked what I ate. Darn it. There are lots of food tracking apps out there, including the one I’m using these days, My Fitness Pal.

It you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

WW adage

Use your pod

My physical pod is small: we are two people and a dog. I’ve made an effort during these months to be in touch with family across the country and with friends near and far. I sent my holiday cards out in October, and thank goodness for telephones and electronic media.

Kumba’s routine is my routine: his breakfast is followed by a long morning walk, his 5PM dinner reminds me to do my pelvic floor exercises, and then we take a leisurely evening walk. My husband and I encourage each other’s creative work: he’s my first reader, and I’m the first audience for his abstract paintings. Once a week, we go out into the world together for a couple of hours of fresh salt air and whooshing waves. Kumba is learning to deal with separation anxiety.

Stay active

It has been very easy to sit through the pandemic. Our daughter, whose hospital days used to guarantee her 10,000 daily steps, now finds herself working remotely in a chair on Zoom. The 24/7 news cycle can capture us for hours, and Netflix’s endless options enables hours more of binge-watching.

Here’s where electronics are super handy for me. The Apple Fitness app on my Apple Watch encourages me to close three activity circles tracking moving, exercise, and standing throughout the day. It’s a feedback loop I count on. There are loads of other apps. WW partners with Fit On, a free app that has loads of audio and video workouts that have expanded my routines.

Be accountable, use your pod, stay active

Congratulations for making it through these long ten months! Keep using your pandemic strategies to stay healthy as we look toward the vaccine and easier times.

Leave a Reply