There is no way to adequately convey how difficult the pandemic was for many or the adverse effects it carried. This isn’t something to be diminished or overlooked, as it’s a part of our history and our perceptions moving forward. But that doesn’t mean that good cannot come from that bad, that we can’t search for the small nuggets of good in between the mess.
Our lives were turned upside down when we suddenly had to stay home, many of us without school or work to distract us, and so we had to find new things to fill our time, new habits to adjust in this unfamiliar world. A lot of these pandemic habits helped us greatly and could continue to serve us now. Just because things are supposedly returning to normal, it doesn’t mean that we can’t bring certain things out of lockdown with us. Here are six pandemic habits you should consider keeping and adapting to the New Normal.
Many pandemic habits will be lost quickly, and masks are probably being tossed away as we speak, but we should consider the benefits of keeping this cleanliness streak. We don’t have to go to the same extremes, but I think certain habits would be beneficial. Covid will always be around in some form, and aside from that, there are plenty of other bacterial and viral infections, even the common cold. So it’s worth keeping that bottle of hand sanitiser in your bag, which will be probably far cheaper and easier to purchase now.
We underestimate how much we touch during a day, so there’s no harm in washing our hands a little more often and distancing if we’ve got a cold.
It felt like being transported to the Victorian era, heading for walks with companions or even for dates. In the pandemic era, bars were out, and walks were in! Being in lockdown allowed me to explore the city I live in far more, and it felt wonderful to end my day with a stroll. Now that we can go to more places, it’s worth keeping this habit of walking around or taking a casual stroll. Whether that’s with friends, family, your partner or by yourself, keep up your walking habit and even consider setting goals for yourself.
Walking is one of the best ways to boost your health on a daily basis, as it reduces your risk of heart disease and stroke, strengthens your bones, and improves your circulation. Walking also improves your quality of sleep and increases your metabolism. Aside from the physical benefits, walking for a short period each day has been shown to boost your mood.
The pandemic rendered us unable to see many people; to avoid isolation, many of us had to find ways to reach out with technology. My grandma discovered the joys of a video call, although she still isn’t sure how to fit her whole head into the frame. Aside from calling, many of us kept in touch through letters or Zoom calls, two very different approaches. We experimented with ways to stay close despite the distance, and it proved to be a fun challenge.
Whilst we can see a lot more people now, there may still be those who are further away or with differing schedules and lifestyles, so it’s worth adopting these methods to remain close. Several of my friends have moved away recently, and it’s easy to feel lonely in this. But by treating our friends in different cities or countries as we did everyone in the pandemic, we can keep these bonds and fight off loneliness in the New Normal.
Instead of just messaging over Whatsapp or liking their photos on Instagram, try new techniques for staying in touch. Don’t forget the joys of a pub quiz or book club held over Zoom, as there are ways to incorporate this into our lives post-pandemic.
Many businesses were really affected by the pandemic, which includes but isn’t limited to hospitality and the arts. During the lockdown, there was a lot of coverage about supporting local businesses, buying things in-person rather than ordering them or going for an independent store rather than a chain. This was heartwarming to see, and I hope this mindset can extend now that we’re leaving lockdown.
Small businesses need to be supported all year round, as they’re constantly under threat from chains and megacorporations. So try to make those small changes whenever possible; if you can purchase something directly from a business, then do so. Make the steps to ensure this habit doesn’t stay in lockdown.
The pandemic presented us with a vast amount of time and an unprecedented set of challenges. When you combine the two, you’re left with unbridled creativity. Much of lockdown was spent bingeing the same Netflix shows and debating whether Carole Baskin actually did it. But aside from that, many rose to the occasion during lockdown and tried new things. We attempted new hobbies and skills, ones that shouldn’t be left behind now. If you were working out at home, then try to keep doing that or sign up for a gym. If you started learning a language, then keep up your Duolingo sessions for fear of that sassy parrot!
During the pandemic, I started an online book club with my friends, and it was such a fun way to chat and encourage our reading. Discussing the books highlighted things I hadn’t considered and also showed us how differently our experiences cloud our perception of a novel. Aside from my book club, I also tried creating fancy cheese platters following Pinterest inspiration, completing 1,000 piece puzzles and cooking new recipes. Since emerging from lockdown, I’ve dropped most of these habits, but I want to find space for them again, as they allowed me to get away from screens and use my hands for once.
There is always a place for creativity in our lives, whether that’s in our friendships or time at home, so find ways to bring these new habits, hobbies and skills into the New Normal.
Now that we can see people, we definitely should again! I’m not trying to detract from that. But I don’t think we should just turn back the clocks and dive into our hectic social schedules as they were. Although many of us initially struggled with the extended alone time presented to us by the pandemic, we didn’t know what to do without the distractions and noise we were used to. This suggests that an issue was present, as many of us avidly avoid being alone with our thoughts and rely on others to attain our self-worth. But after some time, we grew comfortable in our own company, and began to discover our voice, feelings and thoughts when they’re not diluted by others.
I recommend checking out Violet Daniel’s article about alone time, as she captured the benefits of it perfectly. She questioned why we struggle to be alone and why it is so vital to fight past that discomfort and do it anyway!
We often think there is a fine line between alone time and loneliness, but you’ll actually find a lot of space between the two. So as we return to everyday life, it’s worth carving out time to continue spending time with ourselves. Treat yourself like you would one of your friends, giving them the same time, effort and space. It could be as simple as spending an evening at home or you could go to a cafe or park on your own. Roughly twice a month, I go to the cinema alone and it is such a satisfying experience. Walking home alone afterwards with the sun setting in the distance is the closest I’ve felt to happiness.
As you begin to fill your agenda with social engagements, carve out time for yourself; to rest, to think, to feel without the interruption of others. Find what constitutes your best alone time and make it happen.
Instead of trying to return to normal, build a new version. All of us have grown and changed in the last year and a half, and this evolution should be considered in the lifestyles we craft for ourselves. Consider which habits could help you now, and which need to be retired, and approach your life as something new, something to explore and discover.
Which lockdown habits will you keep as you enter post-pandemic life?
Welcome to Symptoms of Living! A place where I like to relieve myself of the barrage of thoughts and ideas filling my mind. Here I'll take a look at various topics, from books to BPD, series to self-harm, there's nothing that we can't, and shouldn't, talk about.
Having struggled with mental illness since the age of 15, one of the hardest parts was how alone I felt in it. While mental illness is beginning to be discussed more openly, and featured in the media, I still think there is room for improvement. So whether it is mental illness or merely mental health, a bad day or a bad year, let's make this a place to approach it and strip it back. Everyone has their own symptoms of living, and you certainly won't be the only one with it.
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