While the far-reaching impacts of the pandemic have presented us with plenty of challenges — including a disruption of our old routines — this time has also allowed us to take stock of our habits and make mindful changes. As a result, we now have an arsenal of new behaviors (whether they relate to our relationships, our work lives, or our personal health and well-being) that are helping to improve our lives. Seeing their impact, it’s no surprise that we’re taking these new habits and routines with us into our “next normal.”
We asked our Thrive community to share the new habits they’ve implemented during this time, and how they’ll continue to incorporate them into their lives going forward. Which of these habits have you taken on while at home?
“I’ve been an on-again-off-again meditator since 2006. A few weeks into the shelter in place, I noticed a constant thrum of low-grade anxiety. I finally made a daily commitment to meditating. I started small, with just five minutes a day. Now, I regularly meditate for at least twenty minutes, up to an hour. I feel so much better, and I plan to continue meditating even after this time.”
—Johanna Lyman, culture and leadership consultant, Campbell, CA
Cooking as a family
“One big change for my family was looking at our own bottom line. We saw our monthly credit card bill dramatically decrease, simply because we weren’t going out to eat anymore. We traded going out for cooking healthy meals together. The new habit has changed our lives. We plan to continue the practice from now on. Eating healthier, family time, and saving money is a win-win-win any way you look at it.”
—Paula Halewski, leadership and executive team coach, Washington, DC
Picking up the phone
“I’ve discovered new joy in speaking with my family and friends, breaking the habit of defaulting to an email when a call is clearly the better option. This was unexpected given I’ve built a successful company dedicated to encouraging deeper and more meaningful conversations with the people who matter most in your life, so I felt like I had this entirely covered when it came to my own family and friends — but there’s nothing like a pandemic-powered lockdown to help you see things for what they are. When lockdown started, my inbox went on a welcome diet, and out of the blue, old friends started to call ‘just for a chat’. Scheduled calls have given way to spontaneous chats, and unlike in the past when a call often felt like an interruption to my carefully curated schedule, I’ve found myself reveling in the joy of the conversation. And now, before I unconsciously reply to or write a new email, I ask myself if this is something that might be best addressed through a phone conversation. If so, I pick up my phone and gratefully use it for the one thing it was originally designed for.”
—Jeremy Horne, founder and CEO of StoriesforLife.me, Australia
Taking a daily mindful walk
“One powerful habit that I’ve adopted during lockdown is to take a mindful walk at least once daily. It’s such a simple activity to implement because you just need to head out the door and walk. Before lockdown, I’d get stuck in my work or family time, and didn’t set aside time for intentional walks. If I did walk, my head would be filled with tasks I had to do, or I’d be feeling rushed to get back. The benefits of a mindful daily walk have been amazing. I find that I am calmer, more grounded, and my heart rate and fitness have improved dramatically. I also see the difference in our nine-month-old baby boy, who is sleeping better, seems more content, and loves his daily walks as much as we do! A mindful walk is now non-negotiable for our family, and it will continue to be an ingrained habit. I’d miss our family walks far too much to skip them!”
—Hayley Merrick, period and fertility coach, Staffordshire, UK
Creating a consistent morning routine
“Working from home has helped reduce the stress I used to experience in the morning, getting ready to rush out the door. Instead, this slower time allowed me to start the day with a healthier approach. When I first wake up, I do some breathing exercises and mediation for about fifteen minutes, followed by a healthy breakfast and a short walk before I start working. Focusing on soft motion and self-awareness has been a great way for me to get ready and centered for the day. I find myself more peaceful and able to come up with creative solutions to problems in a more effective way.”
—Isabelle Bart, marketing director, Orange County, CA
Growing fresh produce
“My new healthy habit is gardening! It began as a lockdown activity to help pass the time and focus on something positive. In early April, while it was still dark and cold, my kids and I carefully rolled cucumber, tomato, jalapeño pepper and basil seeds into moist paper towels and sealed them in ziplock bags. We set them on the radiator and waited. After a few days, we were delighted as they began to sprout and we sowed them in small pots on our kitchen window sill. We took turns watering our babies each day. Six weeks later, we carefully planted the seedlings in our vegetable garden and added zucchini, watermelon, honey dew, bok choy and Chinese water spinach to the mix. And now it’s July, and we are running out to the garden almost every night to grab handfuls of greens to add to our meals. This habit has made our everyday habits so much healthier, and we’ll continue bonding over gardening as we move into our next normal.”
—Heather Cabot, author, Rye, NY
“Like many, I’ve been working from the comfort of my home for the past few months. And I’ve been able to add a bit of exercise to my lunchtime routine. I take the first five minutes of my lunch break to do push-ups, crunches, or stretches. Then, I go on to make my lunch. It’s a great way to break up my day, and carving out five minutes is a really easy way to get in a quick bit of exercise. Plus, doing push-ups in my home kitchen feels way less weird than doing them in the the office kitchen!”
—Rachel Buchanan, HRIS/ analytics manager, IA
Spending more time in nature
“My healthy habit has been getting outside more. I try and avoid the car if possible and walk or ride my bike. I’ll walk the dog in the morning rather than just letting her out; I’ll walk during conference calls; I’ll bike to the store to get small items. Simply put, I try and schedule time to get out into nature almost every day. Luckily, we have an ocean and forest near our house, so it’s been amazing to enjoy nature during this difficult time. I’ve found the fresh air incredibly uplifting, as well as discovering new paths, and simply waving ‘hi’ to others from a distance.”
—Mark Jones, attorney, Mill Valley, CA
Educational bedtime reading
“Toward the beginning of our time in quarantine, I started building extra reading time into my evening routine. I had gotten away from reading before bed, and for months prior had been exclusively ‘reading’ audiobooks while working out. I had been putting off reading several books that required more focus than reading-while-running allowed. My first book selection was How Not to Die by Dr. Michael Greger. In this life-changing book, Dr. Greger outlines the highlights of dozens of scientific studies on nutrition and its effect on longevity, as well as the prevention and treatment of chronic diseases and conditions. My habit of reading in the evenings led to a habit of cooking and eating mostly plant-based at home, and the combined result is not one, but two new lifestyle habits that have made me feel more alive, and more healthy.”
—Colleen K., entrepreneur, Boston, MA
“I have wanted to get into a regular yoga practice for years, but in the past, I tried different classes and found them to be too hard or too long. During the pandemic, a friend suggested I check out ‘Yoga with Adriene’ on YouTube. Doing the sessions from home meant that I would not feel judged if I could not do all the poses. I ordered a yoga mat online and committed to try one of the 30-day challenges Adriene offered. Since starting in April, I have not missed a day. Last month, we created a WhatsApp group with classmates from graduate school who live all over the world. We all committed to follow the same 30-day challenge which has connected us in a new and deeper way. I find this to be such an uplifting way to start each day. This new yoga practice has given me strength and confidence both on and off the mat and I intend to continue well beyond the pandemic.”
—Sharon F. Danzger, productivity consultant and performance coach, New York, NY
Is there a healthy habit you’ve adopted during this time that you’ll continue to do going forward? Tell us about it in the comments!
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