The year 2020 will forever be marked by the COVID-19 pandemic. Another distinction observed is how much most people have engaged in speculations regarding the future. One thing is for sure: if we continue to seek comfort in the same ways we have during this year, the future will likely not look too bright.
This certainty comes from data gathered throughout the past few months. Since the beginning of the year, people who reside in the US have been engaging in habit-forming activities more than ever before. While many people’s finances have been negatively affected since the pandemic began, Americans have also started to eat more junk food, drink more alcohol, smoke more marijuana, play more video games and watch more video content. States that legally allow cannabis consumption, such as California, have reported significant rises in online and store purchases through every municipality. Online alcohol sales are up more than 240 percent in comparison to last year. Furthermore, at the beginning of the pandemic — through the third week of March — people across the US had streamed more than 156 billion minutes of video content. That’s double the amount recorded during the same exact time of the year in 2019. General engagement in many of those activities has increased in concurrence with higher cases of conditions related to people’s mental health and less physical exercise.The aforementioned and numerous other negative behaviors increasingly exhibited by Americans may not only put people at higher risk for viral infections but pose a long-term risk for our well-being in the future. Specialists suggest that curbing the current bad behaviors, and their consequential health impact, may prevent early mortality rates. To do that, some primary care physicians recommend that people consider utilizing the five A’s model, which focuses on a five-part strategy: Asking, Advising, Assessing, Assisting, and Arranging. The model seeks to ease conversations with patients about changing unhealthy behaviors. However, it can also be used by any person who wishes to talk to their peers to make a positive impact in their community. Asking people we know about how much they are engaging in unhealthy behaviors may not only demonstrate we care but also start thought-provoking conversations. Describing the risks linked to those negative behaviors and providing resources to those we care about may also educate us on the topics and allow us to be alert. Lastly, discussing the next steps toward improvements and healthy behaviors can create commitment and long-term changes