How to deal with the transition within lockdown – the development and maintenance of healthy habits.

This article is by Chiara Mansfield, who holds a Masters Degree in Sport and Exercise Psychology and is currently studying for her Professional Doctorate in the same subject at Liverpool John Moores University. Chiara has been with Be Strong for over a year as her permanent work placement – we’re very lucky to have her, she’s one of the nicest, and most knowledgeable people you will ever wish to meet!

In relation to a previous Be Strong discussion topic of Changing Times, which includes removing bad habits and adopting healthy habits and routines. This discussion will outline further psychological techniques and interventions that you can use alongside the strategies that have been stated in the previous discussion talk.

Transition into Lockdown

As we are into the fourth week of the lockdown, many of you may be still working, many working from home and many isolating with members of family, therefore managing this transition and trying to keep things at home as “normal” as possible is essential. This includes finding a routine, adopting and maintaining healthy habits and trying out new activities to keep you and your family busy.

The three R’s – recap

  • Reminder – to do something
  • Routine – developing a routine
  • Reward – experiencing the reward
An example
  • Reminder – a notification from the Facebook group for a live HIIT workout
  • Routine – open Facebook and perform the workout
  • Reward – satisfaction of completing the workout, feeling happy and content, the aching feeling of the body

Positive Self-Talk

To support and encourage these positive habits and routines, you can use a psychological technique called positive self-talk. Here’s the example below of how you can include self-talk phrases and the benefits of them.

  • Reminder – set a reminder on your phone of when you have planned to complete the Be Strong HIIT workout and place a self-talk quote as the reminder message e.g. “I can do this HIIT workout!” or “I’m ready to work hard and do my best!”
  • Routine – time to get up and perform the HIIT workout e.g. “I’m going to push myself to do well”.
  • Reward – I feel very satisfied with that workout e.g. “I’m proud of myself” or “that workout has given me the motivation to make this a habit!”

Self-talk enhances your ability to overcome negative thinking, helps you to stay focused on your goals and maintain a routine and healthy habits especially during this lockdown.

Previous research

Let’s look at some previous research findings in these areas!

Research exploring self-talk and adults thinking of physical activity by Cousins and Gillis (2005) found that 88% of the studied adults used positive self-talk and it increased their physical activity levels. For example, the adults used phrases such as “you’re doing your body good” and “I’m very capable”, which helped with weight loss, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being. Another example included a woman who when running she said to herself “you’re doing good, keep it up” and she explained that it helped her to be positive and motivated to continue, developing a routine of physical activity.

Action plan

One way you can integrate self-talk into creating a healthy routine is to design an individualised action plan including self-reflection as a process of learning.

Let’s start off with an example!

Let’s just say you’re waking up at different times every day, having a lie in because you’re not in work, overeating because you’re bored, not engaging in one daily walk, home workout or any form of exercise, not drinking enough water or eating healthy meals.

I’m not saying that anyone experiences all of these during the day but take your average lockdown day and activities that you engage in to make an action plan.

Throughout this process I want you to think about these five questions:

    • What do I want to change or do differently?
    • How does this make me feel?
    • What do I want my perfect routine to look like?
    • How can I make this into a habit?
    • What are the processes that will make this achievable?

Current daily processes

  • Firstly, write down your current daily activities from when you wake up, everything that happens during the day including activities, food, drink, exercise, hobbies etc.
  • Underneath each activity write down how you’re feeling and that you’re thinking as it is an important way to introduce self-talk, remove all negative thoughts and feelings and help to adopt a growth mindset.

Removal of unwanted activities

  • The next step is to go through the plan and remove any part of your day that you would like to change or do differently.
  • Think about how your feelings and thoughts change as you begin to remove activities and bad habits.
  • Self-reflect on these feelings = a process of learning about yourself and increasing success.
  • For example, you may want to associate waking up with completing a Be Strong HIIT workout at 10am every morning or completing a 10-minute mindfulness exercise when you wake up.

Designing your plan

  • This step entails designing your “perfect” plan.
  • It’s time to create a new daily routine, I want you to think of when you wake up tomorrow.
  • What do you want your day to look like? What do you what to achieve?
  • Think of the feeling of satisfaction!
  • Note to take: this isn’t about achieving everything in one day, it’s about breaking bad habits and replacing them with healthy and positive ones. This routine has to be realistic.
  • For example, wanting to become fitter may require multiple walks and home workouts a week.
  • Another example is learning a new instrument or language may require 30 minutes of practice a day instead of watching TV.

Bringing your plan to life

  • This final step focuses on bringing your designed plan to life and form it into a habit every day.
  • Ensure you incorporate self-talk phrases and reflect throughout the day to make sure you’re staying on track and most importantly enjoying those activities!
  • As Rachel described in the discussion talk, this is an opportunity to use existing routines as reminders, associate activities you want to introduce with an existing action. Moreover, use objects as reminders and praise yourself consistently with self-talk phrases and with others to receive encouraging feedback.

Just a reminder to make this routine:

  • Realistic – don’t try and focus on everything in one day, plan your day in advance
  • Achievable – use goal setting (short term process goals) every day to help you achieve healthy habits and routines e.g. if you want to incorporate more exercise or mindfulness
  • Enjoyable – don’t forget it is an action plan of your whole day so vary your exercises, plan meals/snacks, try new activities, discover a new hobby and share your success with others.

100 Points Planner

Use the 100 points planner below alongside your action plan, but feel free to add your own ideas.

The aim is to score a minimum of 100 points each day by staying busy throughout lockdown, including focusing on how you can increase/maintain your mental well-being and physical fitness but also learn new things and master skills outside of exercise.


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