Meaningful Habits and Life Lessons We’re Learning From This Time

From a revised morning routine to a newfound love for at-home workouts, there are some unexpected upsides we can take away from this global crisis.

ND3000/ Shutterstock
ND3000/ Shutterstock

Amidst all the disruption that we’ve experienced from the COVID-19 pandemic, this time has also offered us small silver linings and insights and habits that we’ll carry with us into the future — whether that’s the chance to prioritize more time with family, a smarter work strategy, more time to be alone with our thoughts, a new ritual that we’ve grown to love, or a new spiritual practice. As Thrive’s founder and CEO Arianna Huffington wrote in her Sunday newsletter, “The pandemic has made it all too clear that we cannot continue to live and work the way we have — breathlessly and always on.”

We asked our Thrive community to share the meaningful rituals, life lessons, or small habits that they’ve learned from this time. Which of these will you take with you going forward?

A new morning ritual

“I’ve added a relaxing candlelit bath to my morning ritual. It first started because of an injury that prevented me from showering, but now it’s a part of my daily routine. Without having to rush out of my house, I have the time to enjoy it and will always continue easing into each day this way. It’s also a great time to listen to audiobooks or music.”

—Blair Kaplan Venables, entrepreneur and marketing professional, Pemberton, B.C., Canada

Daily gratitude

“As time passes during the COVID-19 lockdown, one thing I’m doing — and will continue to do once my state’s shelter-in-place order lifts — is finding time each day to give gratitude for my health. Our health is something we take for granted simply because we can. If you’re reasonably young, fit, and healthy, it’s easy to not notice how fortunate you are. During COVID-19, as even healthy people are falling ill, I’ve started to pay more attention to what my health enables me to do. I’m grateful that I can take care of my family. I’m grateful that I can easily get out to enjoy nature. And, I’m grateful that my health enables me to find the energy to remain resilient.”

—Camille Preston, business psychologist and founder, Cambridge, MA

A love for at-home workouts

“I have never been a gym person, but I find it a mandatory task to keep moving while at home as a technique to keep my immune system up and running. I started doing at-home workouts five days a week for two months now, and I’ve found it to be amazing. I immediately started feeling great after exercising. Plus, I’ve lost weight and my fitness level is definitely up. I’ve discovered that I loved exercise but I simply hated the hassle and effort needed to do it at the gym. My plan is to stick to at-home workouts even after the pandemic ends!”

—Nesma Naad, account director, Cairo, Egypt

Habit-stacking 

“I’ve started habit-stacking during this time, and it’s a great way to introduce behaviors you want to start, or reinforce existing ones that have been difficult to maintain. Habit-stacking is when you add a new behavior to an existing routine that you have already implemented successfully.  An example could be doing a mindfulness practice while you’re brushing your teeth. This works very well because current habits are ingrained in your brain after being strengthened over the years. When you link a new behavior to an existing one, the neurological pathways are already there to help bridge the connection.”

—Christine Norwitch, health and wellness coach and trainer, Miami, FL

Renewed appreciation for friendships

“I’ve learned who my authentic friends are. We’ve really supported each other through this time. I’m going to continue to find ways to show them my appreciation after the pandemic is over.”

—Kristin Meekhof, life coach and author, Birmingham, MI

Reordered priorities 

“I’ve always been so prone to filling my schedule and saturating my lists of goals and to-dos. Since the world has been forced to take a break and so many commitments and events have been paused, I’ve found myself much more productive, focused on what matters most, and in my element with less distraction. I know I’ll be coming out of this time with a new ability to say no to what is not in alignment with my true values. Sometimes, it takes silence and space to really know what those values are.”

—Ila Cantor, founder of Guitar Mastery Intensive, Ashland, OR

Permission to recharge

“Working remotely due to COVID-19 has reminded me how important it is to schedule downtime for myself, even when I am working from the comfort of my home. I never made moments of recovery a priority in the past because I figured my lunch break was enough. Now that I have implemented strategic breaks to recharge my mind and body throughout the day under quarantine, I’ve realized how much more relaxed and productive I am when I do. I plan to keep these mini-appointments with myself when the pandemic passes and I go back to the office.”

—Farrah Smith, personal coach, Los Angeles, CA 

Quality family time

“Looking beyond this time during the pandemic, I plan to move about life with my family at a much slower pace than before.  The biggest lesson we have learned as a family is the need to slow down. We’ve been enjoying so many things, like conversations over coffee in the morning without rushing out the door, and early dinners, which hardly ever happened prior to the pandemic due to swim and lacrosse practices. This stressful time in life has brought us moments that we will always cherish.”

—Helen Agresti, registered dietitian nutritionist, Erie, PA

Living in the moment

“This challenge has reinforced my need to accept that which I can’t control. In doing so, my fear and anxiety have waned. I’ve stopped worrying about the future, about what may be, about what could be, and embraced living in the moment. Finally implementing this simple mindset shift, which is something I’ve heard over and over for years and years, has freed me from my own prison of chains. I feel lighter, happier, more in control, and more at peace.”

—Kim Soko Schaefer, entrepreneur, Denver, CO

Daily intention-setting

“Over the past two months of quarantine, I have been making the effort to sit down for five minutes each morning and set daily intentions. I also review them before bed at night, which I’ve found has allowed me to unwind each evening and sleep better. Setting intentions each morning gives me the opportunity to assess each day with my family’s schedule, and reviewing them at night has helped me reflect on my wins and what I was able to achieve that day. This is a really helpful habit that I plan to continue.”

—Nick Peacock-Smith, global business partnerships, Brooklyn, NY 

A revised morning routine

“I have perfected my morning routine during this time through an exercise I call the ‘GAME,’ which stands for gratitude, affirmations, meditation, and energy. First, before rising from bed, I think of ten things in my life for which I am grateful. Then, I practice my affirmations. I have a list of 50 that I refer to, but you don’t need that many. I then move onto meditation, and finally, consider my physical energy level. These four easy practices help me get ready to begin the day in more joyful anticipation. Previously, I would get up and throw myself into a mad dash to get out the door, already worrying about the stressors of the day. I don’t do that anymore, and I don’t plan on returning to that habit after the pandemic.”

—Pamela Wolff, wellness advocate, Pittsburgh, PA

Small acts of kindness

“These troubled times have taught me the true value of health and well-being, as well as my general appreciation for others. I’ve noticed the many kindnesses that people are showing to each other during this time, for example: small things like stopping on the opposite side of the street to talk to a stranger, or just exchanging a ‘hello’ and a smile. People seem to have slowed down with less rushed conversations and more listening. I hope that this sense of coming together in adversity continues when life eventually gets a reboot.”

— Beverly Landais, coach, Tunbridge Wells, UK

Is there a life lesson or meaningful habit you’ll take away from this time? Share it with us in the comments!

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