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Positive new habits

Health and Wellness, Health Alert, COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic has certainly been stressful. From fear and concern to uncertainty about how to transition safely back into our routines, COVID-19 has stirred up a lot of emotions. Yet, even amid the fear, anger and heartbreak you can find hope.

How long does it take for habits to form?

Experts say it takes a little over two months to create new habits. For most of us, some form of social distancing or sheltering in place began in mid-March. This means that you’ve now had half a year to solidify new behaviors. What positive habits have you cultivated? And, perhaps more importantly, how can you maintain these new routines post-pandemic?

Keep healthy eating habits

When stay-at-home orders first began rolling out, disinfectant wipes, hand sanitizer and toilet paper flew off the shelves. But when pandemic rules persisted, stores began seeing a shortage of different products: baking and cooking ingredients. As people spent more time at home, one flour company saw an increase in sales of 2,000%!

While you may not have the time anymore to perfect your sourdough starter, consider how you can keep making food at home. Many people turned to the kitchen for stress relief but found an added benefit of eating more meals at home.

Not only is eating in usually healthier, most people also experience significant money savings. Consider how you can keep this positive pandemic habit going.

Even if every night isn’t feasible, maybe you can incorporate cooking two to three days per week. When you do want a break from cooking, considering ordering takeout from a local or family-owned restaurant in your community.

Exercise more intentionally

As we’ve transitioned into spring and on to summer under new circumstances, many of us have moved our workouts outdoors. Whether or not you exercised regularly before the pandemic, there are many benefits of a daily walk around the neighborhood.

Besides boosting endorphins and cardiovascular health, exercising outside can also give you your daily dose of vitamin D. As more public spaces reopen, try a new hiking trail or park for a change of scenery.

Prioritize family time

While none of us asked to suddenly work from home or instantly become home-school teachers, for many of us these new conditions led to a hidden benefit of more family time. Now that you’re going back to work in an office setting, consider how you can prioritize your work/life balance.

Instead of watching TV in the evenings, find activities to do as a family, such as working on a puzzle or going for a walk. Reserve one night a week for your family to prepare a meal together. Give each family member a specific task in the kitchen and then sit down and eat at the table while sharing about your day.

Keep washing those hands — correctly!

Even though we all know to wash our hands before preparing food or after using the bathroom, COVID-19 has highlighted how much more we should be doing in terms of hand hygiene. Making sure we wash our hands for a full 20 seconds when we get home from running errands and using hand sanitizer while we’re out and about are two healthy habits to hang onto — into flu season and beyond.

Continuing to use cart wipes at the grocery store or carrying disinfectant wipes with us are two more great ways to keep germs at bay.

Seek mental health resources

Coronavirus has brought up a lot of stress and anxiety. In response, the internet has exploded with resources to support your mental health, from free meditations to online therapy options. As we return to some of our previous routines, don’t let your mental health become an afterthought.

Continue seeking out ways to lower stress and anxiety and prioritize conversations about mental wellbeing. For many people, the effects of the pandemic — whether it’s loss of income or continued fear for loved ones — will be long-lasting. Mental health resources continue to be crucial as we navigate this “new normal.”

Staying on top of your health

The pandemic has introduced a grave term to many of us: “underlying conditions.” This vague phrase can mean anything from diabetes or high blood pressure to obesity or cancer. One of the best ways to make sure you are as healthy as possible is to make sure you keep up on all your health care visits.

And because some underlying conditions are silent threats, it’s important to keep your annual wellness visits with your primary care provider. These visits give you a chance to discuss any changes to your health or questions you have with your doctor or nurse practitioner. They can also screen you for problems and make sure your vaccines are up to date.

If you don’t have a primary care provider, call us at 503-261-6929. We will help you find one at the location most convenient for you.

There is no doubt the coronavirus pandemic has had sweeping effects on our families, our work and our communities. Out of this difficult time can come some lasting new habits that help us stay well, healthy and connected as we move forward.