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Reclaiming Healthy Habits After COVID

Reclaiming Healthy Habits After COVID graphic

After living through the pandemic for the last three years, you may have developed bad habits that have taken a toll on your physical and mental health. But it’s never too late to reclaim your healthy pre-pandemic routines (or start new ones)!

To do that, follow S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals. If every day (or 80% of the time) you make progress toward that goal, then chances are you will reach it.

Here’s advice from Healthy Harlem at Harlem Children’s Zone on setting — and achieving! — S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Understanding Good and Bad Habits

First, understand common examples of bad and good habits:

Bad habits include: 

  • Late-night snacking
  • Binge drinking
  • Mindless scrolling
  • Working without a break
  • Dedicating too little time for self-care

Good habits include:

  • Journal writing
  • Treating yourself with non-food items
  • Starting a board game/card night with family and friends
  • Incorporating a 5-minute morning stretch routine
  • Taking a walk
  • Turning off social media and calling a friend


Reframing behaviors 

Do you identify with any of these bad habits? If so, ask yourself, “What are the whys behind my behaviors”? Were you feeling isolated, stressed, bored, worried, or tired of the pandemic? The “why” is always valid! We get to feel our feelings.

Next, ask yourself, “What positive habits can I adopt to take the place of bad ones?” Tap into what makes you happy and swap it in.


Change is not linear 

Most people have setbacks. It’s a normal part of the stages of change. Use setbacks to assess and tweek, so that your positive change can become a permanent part of your life. Start with something small and achievable. It can take up to 21 days to become accustomed to a routine, so be kind to yourself. Give your body and mind time to reset. 

When one goal is achieved and has become routine, either choose another or just relax and celebrate your success. There will inevitably be a signal when you’re ready for another positive change. Don’t rush things; listen to yourself. If you have a list of goals you want to achieve, take them slowly and achieve consistency with each before tackling the next.

For support, reach out to Healthy Harlem.