There’s light at the end of the tunnel. As the pandemic gradually comes to an end, we’re starting to imagine life after COVID-19, but we’re also apprehensive about going back to our “old normal” ways. It’s perfectly natural to be nervous. But we’ve been out of our comfort zones for so long that now could be the time to embrace change and try something new. Here we suggest six ways to (safely) hit the refresh button.
Get fit with a friend
The pandemic has pressed pause on many of our favorite pastimes, such as going to the gym. However, you may still be uneasy about sharing a sweaty space with strangers. If you feel safer exercising outdoors (and want to save on the cost of gym membership), but are bored of the same old routine, set yourself new targets to keep motivated. There are lots of personal training apps like Apple Fitness and Classpass to help you. Better still, team up with a buddy. You’ll share the pain – and the fun.
Try a new sport
Getting active is good for you but did you know that just 30 minutes of exercise a day will make you live longer?1 A great way of getting that exercise – with the added mental health benefit of social contact – is by taking up a new sport. How about tennis or Ultimate Frisbee? These activities are fun, sociable, you can play them in the open air – and you can reward yourself with a drink in the sunshine when you’ve finished!
Get back to nature
Greater exposure to natural environments is associated with better health and well-being, especially if you live in the city.2 So get back to nature. You don’t have to take a special trip to a state park or wildlife refuge. Even in urban areas, you’ll be surprised at the green spaces on your doorstep, from parks to beaches. For example, New York City, boasts several wildlife havens, from Brooklyn’s Prospect Park to Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge in Queens.
Try a new diet
Evidence suggests that alcohol consumption has increased during the pandemic.3 That’s probably no surprise. It’s a coping mechanism to reach for unhealthy snacks or a glass (or two!) of Pinot Noir. However studies suggests we should limit our drinking to avoid health problems in later life.4 Eating well is also strongly linked to a host of health benefits, including a longer life.5 Take the “Mediterranean diet,” which simply means eating plenty of fruit and vegetables, and going easy on sugar, red meat and processed food. Cutting down takeout orders should also mean a healthier wallet.
Get some (head)space
It’s time to try a new way of working. If you’ve been working from your kitchen table, sharing your space with kids’ toys and teenagers’ homework, you’ll feel mentally cluttered. So clear your desk! One study found that people who cleaned up their homes increased their productivity and ability to focus.6 A further study found that long-term exposure to clutter can even cause chronic stress.7
Learn the lingo
Many people learned something new in the last year, even if it was just how to make banana bread. Why not set yourself a new challenge? Don’t be too ambitious – make it achievable. You probably won’t win the Masters next year if you’ve never swung a golf club. Make small, sustainable changes, things you can keep doing – this way they’re more likely to stick. How about learning a new language – just a few words a day or download Duolingo? When you feel comfortable about traveling abroad again, it will come in handy to know some Spanish, for example. Or you can impress your friends with your Korean when you reunite at your favorite restaurant.
As the old saying goes, “feel the fear and do it anyway.” So try something new.
1 Want to Live Longer? For Just 30 Minutes a Day, Do Anything Else But Sit. Ducharme, Jamie. Time. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://time.com/5502042/sitting-exercise-move/
2 Spending at least 120 minutes a week in nature is associated with good health and wellbeing. White, Matthew. P, et al. Nature. 13 June 2019. Accessed 31 March, 2021. https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-019-44097-3
3 Alcohol Consumption during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Cross-Sectional Survey of US Adults. Grossman, Elyse. 20 December 2020. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://www.webmd.com/lung/news/20210219/drinking-too-much-during-the-pandemic#1
4 Drinking More Than Three Times a Week May Harm Your Health, Study Says. 4 October 2018. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://time.com/5414248/light-drinking-bad-for-you/
5 Want to Live Longer? Science Says to Do These 5 Things. Ducharme, Jamie. Time. 19 April 2019. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://time.com/5543459/longevity-live-longer/
6 Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex. National Library of Medicine. McMains, Stephanie. 12 January 2011. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21228167/
7 Stress: Endocrine Physiology and Pathophysiology. Tsigos, Constantine et al. National Center for Biotechnology Information. 17 October 2020. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK278995/
8 Try something new for 30 days. Cutts, Matt. TED2011. March 2011. Accessed 01 April 2021. https://www.ted.com/talks/matt_cutts_try_something_new_for_30_days/
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