Just because most of us are finally returning to a normal routine doesn’t mean we have to ditch everything we did during those COVID lockdowns. Here are 10 habits that it might be good to keep up long after the pandemic is history.
With the constant changes in 2020, many of us adopted new habits to protect our physical and mental health, and generally, just to keep ourselves (and everyone else) safe. As the world reopens and we let go of some of the stricter practices, there are a few things that it would be a good idea to keep doing.
From the simpler activities, like taking more walks, to just being more mindful to combat stress, here are the 10 habits we adopted during the pandemic that we plan to keep on doing!
Cooking at Home
From the early pandemic days when everyone was baking bread to the lack of dining options for several months, many of us have been making and eating more meals at home than ever before. While it’s great to be able to get takeout and even enjoy in-person dining again as the world heads back toward normal, we shouldn’t abandon the benefits of cooking at home!
Cooking your own meals can be more time-consuming, true, but it also has a lot of advantages that we shouldn’t overlook. By making your own food, you can control more of what goes into it, customize it to your tastes and dietary needs, and ensure that you know what’s gone into every step of it. Plus, cooking can be really fun and even relaxing, whether it’s a family activity or something you do to unwind alone.
Making More Time for Hobbies
Picked up a new hobby (or two, or three) during the pandemic? Don’t let it lapse as life goes back to normal! It’s easy to feel like every moment of the day has to be “productive,” but it’s just as important to take time for things that just make you happy.
Whatever interests you’ve taken up or restarted, be sure to take a little time each day to keep doing them.
Exercising between Tasks
When the pandemic shut down gyms and fitness classes, most of us turned to some form of at-home exercise. Although those in-person options are available again, exercising at home can be a more flexible and less intimidating option for many of us!
You don’t have to rework your whole schedule to fit in an hour-long workout—instead, take 10 minutes here or there to get up and go for a walk, pull up a quick cardio workout on YouTube, or go through a yoga flow.
Reaching Out More to Friends
With in-person hangouts off the table for several months, the barriers to reaching out to people who maybe aren’t in your immediate geographic area felt lower. Zoom and phone calls will still be there after the pandemic ends, so continue to take advantage of them.
Schedule catch-up calls with your friends, whether they live down the street or across the country. If there’s one thing that the past year has proven, it’s that distance doesn’t have to be the deciding factor in friendship and that you can apply your newfound long-distance-friendship skills to your friendships going forward!
Personal Care Routines
Don’t neglect those personal care routines that you might have picked up during this past year—in fact, as we return to “normal” busy lives, it’s even more important to take time for a little pampering! It doesn’t have to be a big, expensive, fancy spa day—it can be something as simple as taking five minutes for a skin care routine instead of just splashing on water and calling it good.
Self-care gets a bit of a reputation as over-the-top luxury or “silly” things, but in reality, it’s about the simple things that help you feel good, whatever that means to you. Treat your body well and go beyond the bare minimum, and you’ll be surprised at what a difference it can make, both physically and mentally!
Giving Yourself a Break
There’s been a real push during the pandemic to be a little kinder to everyone, including ourselves. So, give yourself a bit more grace when it comes to expectations and life stress. This is one of the most important takeaways that we should all carry into the new normal.
You don’t have to push yourself to a breaking point—take a break when you need one. Take the time to acknowledge what is and isn’t working, and give yourself the same consideration and understanding that you’ve been extending toward others.
Going for Walks
One of the simplest ways to boost your mental and physical health is to take a walk. Stroll through a park, around your neighborhood, or anywhere that you enjoy and feel safe. It gets you up and moving, gives you a chance to breathe some fresh air, and lets you take a few minutes away from the stresses of daily life.
It gives you the chance to regroup and focus on you. Walks around the neighborhood became a popular way of getting out of the house in a safe way even at the peak of the pandemic, but it’s an easy and helpful habit to keep doing even in normal times.
Lots of folks became plant parents over the last year! Whether you dipped your toe in with one or two plants or have pretty much turned your living space into a greenhouse, keeping houseplants is a habit that can make your life more pleasant at any time.
Not only are plants a great way to add some personality and style to your space, but they can also improve your emotional state by reducing stress. Caring for plants can be relaxing and rewarding, and it’s definitely something to keep up with.
Worried that you don’t have a green thumb? Get started with these easy-to-care-for plants.
We’ve all spent the past year incredibly stressed out and on edge, which has, for many people, meant looking for techniques to reduce that anxiety or at least keep it manageable. In terms of both physical and mental health, maintaining those stress-relief habits is one of the most important things that you can do long-term.
Different relaxation techniques work well for different people, so the important thing is to find the approach that works for you. Some people prefer mindfulness practices or meditation, while others find that repetitive activities (like knitting) work best for them. Try different techniques until you find what’s most effective for you!
If nothing else, the last year has taught us all a lot about our priorities. We all had to get good at rescheduling or outright declining things over the last year. It’s helpful to remember that it’s healthy to have and maintain boundaries in our lives. Stick with them, even if you no longer have the excuse of the pandemic.
If a schedule that wasn’t constantly filled with engagements and commitments made you feel far more relaxed, then keep it up. Prioritize your own well-being and plan only things that you want to do.