Lockdown has brought with it plenty of challenges. Many of us have had to transform our living rooms into offices or classrooms, couples have been separated and the most vulnerable people have been unable to leave their homes for weeks.
We’ve all struggled at times over the last few months, but spending more time indoors has given us the opportunity to try new activities that have made us healthier than before, both physically and mentally.
Continue with these lifestyle changes when the coronavirus restrictions are lifted and you’ll reap rewards in the long-term.
Here are 10 healthy habits to keep up after lockdown ends…
1. Getting enough sleep
With pubs, bars and restaurants closed, it’s been easier than ever before to get an early night, and with many people working from home, they’ve been able to snooze through what would normally be their commuting time.
To maintain your healthy sleep routine after lockdown, try to wake up at the same time each day, even at the weekend. That way, there’s enough time for what experts call ‘sleep pressure’ to build up throughout the day, and it won’t take you as long to fall asleep.
2. Working from home
While it’s not possible for everyone, if you’ve found working from home has reduced your stress levels because you avoid crammed commuter trains and a noisy office environment, you might want to consider doing it more often in future.
Not only does it eliminate certain stresses, home working gives you more time for other healthy activities – and sleep.
3. Spending more time alone
Quality time with friends and family is a huge mood booster of course, but if you previously crammed your weekends full of social plans, then found yourself exhausted (and hungover) by Sunday, a self-imposed lockdown might be good for you in future.
The same way you maintain work/life balance, set aside time for relaxing solo activities, alongside time with your loved ones.
4. Cooking from scratch
Whether it’s baking sourdough or trying elaborate recipes you don’t usually have time for, many people have been getting creative in the kitchen.
The health benefits of cooking are twofold. Firstly, following a recipe is a form of mindfulness, which is a great stress reliever. Secondly, by using fresh ingredients, you’re avoiding buying processed foods that may be high in fat, sugar or salt.
If you’ll be returning to office life after lockdown, why not try batch cooking on a Sunday, so you aren’t tempted to resort to a shop-bought lunch every day?
5. Working out at home
When gyms closed, online workouts blew up and thousands of us turned to YouTube or Instagram for a daily dose of exercise.
Now you know you can fit a HIIT or yoga session into your daily routine, why not do an online workout on days when you can’t make it to the gym? Even a 20-minute blast can get your heart rate and your mood soaring.
6. Helping others
Studies have shown that the more people volunteer, the happier they are, and helping others can even improve your physical health.
If you’ve enjoyed ‘helper’s high’ while doing the shopping for an elderly neighbour during lockdown, have a look into other volunteering opportunities in your local area that you can take part in when restrictions have eased.
7. Keeping in touch with loved ones
Whether it’s quizzes, movie nights, group workouts or just having a good old chinwag, socialising has gone digital in 2020 and we’ve learned that catching up via video is a fantastic way to combat loneliness in isolation.
While you may be sick of quizzes by now, there’s no reason online socialising has to stop after lockdown. Try scheduling in a regular catch up with relatives or suggest a ‘watchalong’ of a new Netflix series with a friend.
8. Spending time in nature
Did you know that looking at fractals – intricate patterns often found in nature with things like tree branches, snowflakes and leaf shapes – has been shown to reduce human stress levels? That’s why spending time in green, leafy spaces is beneficial for your health.
When lockdown is over, don’t abandon your daily walks to the park or your garden sunbathing sessions. Even a short stroll can have a calming effect if you take a mindful approach and pay attention to all those beautiful fractals.
9. Having a dating detox
While activity on apps like Tinder and Bumble surged during lockdown, other people discovered the joy of taking a break from digital dating.
Endless swiping, being rebuffed by matches and going on dud dates can take its toll, so whenever you find yourself exasperated by dating apps, have a ‘detox’ for a week, a month, or more, then come back when you’re feeling refreshed.
In these uncertain times, many people tried meditation for the first time and discovered the stress-busting power of sitting still, closing your eyes and concentrating on your breath.
If you’ve mastered a daily 10-minute session, try extending the length of your practice. Research has shown that over time, meditation can help you focus better, reduce anxiety and help manage the symptoms of depression.