Even if you’re fully-vaccinated and ready to resume life as normal, it’s possible that some of the habits you developed over the past year are here to stay. While you don’t have to bring your sweat pants along, there are some lessons worth keeping. As you move into this next transition of your life, here are seven pandemic habits to continue post-Covid:
1. Maintain regular cleaning and sanitization in public spaces.
Thanks to the pandemic, everyone has become fully comfortable with Clorox wipes, hand sanitizer and temperature checks—and while the strict distancing protocols may go away, it’s still a good idea to keep up your newly-developing cleaning habits.
Remember how each year, you geared up for a nasty cold and permanent runny nose in February? Thanks to an abundance of cleaning, mask-wearing and distancing procedures, cases of RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) became almost non-existent.
In the future, you’ll probably still get a cold or two, but by keeping up your sanitization practices, you might be able to mitigate the worst effects. If you’re especially worried about your immune system, you can always resume mask practices to combat other viruses or bacteria which could cause you harm.
2. Slow down your everyday life.
Social distancing procedures and stay-at-home orders meant many Americans spent the year 2020 on their couch. While that shift may have been jarring for some, it also taught us a valuable lesson: it’s important to slow down every once in a while.
Jonathan Baxter, licensed mental health counselor and co-host of the “Hello Relationships” podcast shared that, “while we want to recover some of those [pre-pandemic] experiences, maybe it’s a lesson that we don’t need as much activity as we thought we did. Maybe it’s okay to feel some disappointment in exchange for a calmer, more centered life.”
Think about your pre-pandemic life: when did you feel the most stressed? How many times did you wish you could just take a break? Did you make time to do things that you enjoyed? As we move back into the hustle-and-bustle of everyday life, don’t add everything back at once: take your time, and don’t feel like you need to replicate your old life, either. It’s okay to do less if your mental, emotional and physical health is winning first!
3. Consciously think about the needs of those around you.
2020 was all about kindness toward your neighbor, known or unknown. It’s the reason we wore masks or chose to order takeout instead of dine-in. While it’s always important to take care of your own needs, you can still develop and maintain that compassion for others.
Think about the things you were willing to change or adjust, because you knew it might make a family member or friend’s life easier. Can you find those small and simple adjustments in the future, too? It doesn’t always require a huge sacrifice, like staying at home, to help someone else.
So keep the face coverings on, get a better face mask if possible, adhere to social distancing requirements, and keep your outdoor activities to minimal. All these would contribute to a safer community.
4. Focus on a better work/life balance.
Maintaining a proper work/life balance during Covid often fell equal parts to the employee, as it did to the employer. The good news is many organizations are now taking a more lenient approach to remote working and creating programs that help you separate your job from your daily life.
Tom Spiggle, senior contributor at Forbes magazine, shared one, “potential silver lining from the coronavirus is that employers and employees are getting more used to the idea of working from home, with 61% of workers and 50% of employers viewing working from home more positively now.
Perhaps a greater acceptance of remote work will be the new normal for many jobs. This in turn could enhance the work-life balance and make it easier for individuals to raise a family while also achieving their professional aspirations.”
If you are going to continue working from home, be sure to set clear boundaries with your employer and colleagues. Then, it’s up to you to honor those boundaries in the same way you’ve asked of those around you: close your laptop, turn off the notifications and enjoy dinner in an email-free environment.
5. Spend more time outside.
When you couldn’t go to your favorite club or restaurant, where did you go? If you’re like many Americans, you went outside to enjoy nature. If you’re a brand-new outdoorsman or enjoyed the extra sunshine and Vitamin D, don’t let that habit die! Going outside can have a significant, positive impact on both your health and mood.
6. Stay connected through technology.
In a recent survey of roughly 400 online gamers, 68 percent of respondents shared that they used video games to stay connected and maintain social interactions throughout the pandemic. Whether it was gaming, video-calling, joint-streaming or even just social media, technology helped us feel close when we couldn’t be in the same room together.
Just because social distancing precautions have been lifted, doesn’t mean you need to fall out of contact all over again. Many individuals reconnected with friends living miles away during the pandemic through their phones or laptops, and the good news is, that technology isn’t going away. Don’t postpone a conversation or catch-up because of distance! Pencil in time to make that call or send that text, even if the pandemic is over.
7. Improve your sleeping and daily routine habits.
With more time spent at home, you might have gotten to bed earlier or even set up a more organized, daily routine for yourself to follow. It’s no secret that routines can often be a pathway to better mental health and increased productivity. While your day-to-day life may still change, you can keep your sleeping and productivity habits in check. Don’t forget how much better you feel after a full eight hours of rest!
Just like the many other habits in this list, it’s about incorporating what works best for you. The pandemic was a really difficult time for most Americans, and it’s okay to be excited about a, “return to normal.” As you make that transition, remember to bring the good things you’ve learned along the way to support this new change. Good luck out there!