As the weather changes along with family schedules, Fall can be a time for personal renewal and transformation.
But the energy you used to put forth toward creating new schedules and healthier self-care practices in past autumn seasons may now be focused on dealing with pandemic-related stress, uncertainty and fears.
This can lead to procrastination, affecting your health negatively as you don’t take the positive steps you need to stay healthy and feel good.
Here are 4 things you can start doing today to overcome procrastination and boost the health behaviors we know are important.
1 – Get back to Preventive Care
At the beginning of the pandemic, people stayed away from doctor offices and hospitals for fear of catching the coronavirus.
But now most medical and dental practices along with hospitals have instituted practices to keep patients and staff safe.
Requiring masks, decreasing volume of patients so social distancing can be maintained in waiting areas, having hand sanitizers readily available and screening health care workers are now routine practices of health care institutions.
Do you need a mammogram, a colonoscopy, a dental cleaning or a checkup with your primary care provider?
Contact your providers to find out their safety practices and gauge your comfort level.
Decreasing your fears will decrease your procrastination.
2 – Get Moving
Physical movement is the body and mind’s best medicine. It can decrease your feelings of anxiety and stress, improve your heart and lung health, strengthen your bones and joints and even decrease your risks of cancer and lengthen your life.
But even with all those benefits, procrastination can sometimes take over leaving you sitting too much, feeling sluggish and having low energy.
To procrastinate less about starting or continuing an exercise program, I recommend using the ‘A’ word for Activity, instead of the ‘E’ word for Exercise.
Without having to visit a health club or use an exercise machine, so many options exist for increasing your activity level throughout the day.
Using a wearable device or pedometer can also help you track your steps, motivating you to achieve a predetermined level of activity every day.
All you need are comfortable walking shoes and a safe walking space to meet a daily goal of taking 8000-10,000 steps per day.
Think progress, not perfection!
If dressed properly, walking outside in cooler Fall weather can also be invigorating.
Less sitting and more movement will give your body and mind the energy boost it needs during this stressful time.
3 – Get Sleep
Better sleep and better health habits go together.
What you do at dinner and after can set the stage for a good night’s sleep.
Pay attention to the types of foods you eat as spicy foods, coffee, chocolate, alcohol, and large portions too close to bedtime can cause reflux and interrupt sleep.
Leave socially charged conversations for daytime only as these can increase stress and anxiety and may make it more difficult for you to fall asleep.
Limiting screen time at night and setting a sleep onset and wake up time are other strategies that work to lessen procrastination and help you get the 7-8 hours of restful sleep that is recommended.
Be aware of how one night of good sleep can increase your motivation to eat well and be active the next day, hopefully decreasing procrastination in the process.
4 – Get Socially Connected
Just because we all need to socially distance doesn’t mean we can’t remain socially connected with one another.
In fact, during this time, staying socially connected is more important than ever. We just need to be creative.
Can you connect with a friend or neighbor to do social distanced walks together? Or what about finding virtual groups to join for relaxation, socialization, exercise or just plain fun?
Many hobbies you enjoyed pre-pandemic offer virtual options and some may be free or offer free trials.
Being accountable to others can make activities more enjoyable, making you less likely to procrastinate.
For more information on activities to keep you healthy during this difficult time, you can check out and print my Pandemic-Inspired Health Habit Tip Sheet here.
Stay safe and be well!
Robert Kushner, MD