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Slipping into old habits allows COVID-19 to creep back

If you’ve ever made, and not kept, a resolution you’ll know how easy it is to slip back into old habits. Keeping up our new ways of doing things will keep us safe.

1 September 2020

Have you ever made a resolution to eat better, exercise more or give up smoking? How did you go? There’s a good chance you didn’t keep up your intended change for long. 

This is because behaviour change is difficult. It’s really easy to slip back into old ways of doing things. It’s the same in the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Preparing yourselves with strategies and plans can help make lasting behaviour change easier. Here are a few tactics to help your COVID-safe habits stick.

10 ways to keep up good COVID-19 habits

  1. Think positively; the actions you take are helping people (including your friends and family) to stay healthy and safe.

  2. Work out a plan to deal with tricky situations, like meeting a 'hugger', ahead of time.

  3. Write down your intentions somewhere you will see it every day. 

  4. Tell someone else what your focus is, peer pressure helps!

  5. Share your good intensions on your social feeds. “Hey everyone, in order to beat COVID, I’m just letting you know I love you, but I’m not going to shaking hands, stand close or hugging for the next little while.”

  6. If you are aware that you have been slipping with your behaviours, break it down into smaller, achievable goals.

  7. Don’t try and address all your lapses at once. Focus on one thing, like keeping your hands away from your face for a day or being really conscientious about washing your hands.

  8. Sit down and reflect to see how you are doing and if you are actually practicing the habit every day.

  9. Be patient with yourself and have confidence that you can achieve any good habit you want as long as you keep trying.

  10. Think about a healthy or positive reward for yourself for achieving your goals.

5 practical tips

  1. Take time to work out how to properly fit your face mask so it’s comfortable. If you wear glasses, think about using anti-fog spray. ​

  2. Practice a little mantra “Keys, wallet, phone, mask, sanitiser.” before you go out.

  3. Have supplies of hand sanitiser in different places (your car, bag, by the door), so you don’t forget it when you go out.

  4. Shop at hours that are not popular (like early in the morning or mid afternoon).

  5. Place a note on your front door to welcome visitors that says, ‘We can’t wait to see you, but hope you won’t mind washing your hands when you come in’.

​Remember it will take all of us to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 infections in Australia. Together we ‘flattened the curve’ in April, and together we can do it again.

Should I go to the shops or not? How often? Should I use a trolley? Wipe it down? Should I have people over? Meet them out? Should I hug or not? Wash my hand before, after, or both?

The second wave in Victoria and concerns in other States remind us to stay vigilant with actions like hand washing and keeping a safe distance. COVID-19 is extremely infectious. As we have seen, a few cases can rapidly become many, and flip us back into lockdown.

Decisions are hard

Most things we do on a daily basis, we take for granted and don’t need to make decisions about. However, we generally all have a low threshold for the number of decisions we like to make. So in the current environment, where we need to make decisions about many of the most basic activities, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and unsure about what to do. 

If people are given too many options or decisions, they usually go with the easiest choice, and often that’s to go back to what they did before.

Markers on the ground in cafes, sanitiser dispensers at shop entrances and signs to remind us to physically distance help nudge us in the right direction, but we also need to take personal responsibility and encourage those around us to do the same. 

An app to help you

The Get Prepared app will help you create a plan for any emergency.

Need extra support?

Vic: Call the COVID hotline on 1800 675 398 or read about financial and other support.
NSW: Call the National Coronavirus Hotline on 1800 020 080 or search for support.