Throughout our time spent at home during the pandemic, many of us picked up new rituals and habits that helped us stay positive, grounded, and optimistic. We learned new skills, revisited childhood passions, and started incorporating little activities that became staples in our everyday routines. In fact, many of them are continuing to boost our happiness and well-being even as we return to normalcy.
We asked our Thrive community to share with us the pandemic habits and rituals that are now staples in their routines. Which of these will you implement into your routine?
“I have tried journaling in the past and it never stuck, mainly because I do not consider myself a writer and would judge myself for journaling what I classified as ‘mundane thoughts.’ The five-minute journal was such a nice shift from traditional journaling. It’s quick and easy, allowing me to set an intention for the day with some added reflection at night.”
—Julie Bronsteatter, personal and executive coach, Chicago, IL
Taking evening walks
“During the pandemic, my husband and I took our dog on long walks in the evening. It was a relief to get out of the house and feel the sunshine on our faces. It created space for us to talk to each other about what was happening and how we felt. We found that we took more time to notice the sunset in the evening, sometimes having a cocktail on the patio while watching the world go by. In the chaos of what was happening, it gave us time to ground ourselves individually and as a couple. We still take our evening walks and remember to focus on the positive, staying grounded in who we are and the decisions that we make.”
—Anne McAuley Lopez, content writer, Chandler, AZ
Baking bread from scratch
“I learned to bake bread from scratch during the pandemic. While I love to cook, baking bread always terrified me. It seemed like too daunting a challenge. I decided to face my fear and give it a whirl. While it is not something I do daily, it is definitely still something that I do very regularly. I find that the process is meditative, and the smell of fresh baked bread is such a reward for the work that goes into it!”
—Cindy J., executive search and human resources consultant, Boston, MA
Replacing phone calls with video
“I used to stay in touch with distant relatives and friends via phone calls, texts, and emails, but now that I have the rhythm and the technology in place, I enjoy turning on the video function to connect. It’s added a great dimension to our conversations and the ‘getting ready’ bit is now a nice part of the process. Even the older generation has come on board and enjoys the video calls!”
—Marta Rzeszowska Chavent, management and change consultant, France
“During the lockdowns, I planned and prepared most of my meals, and cooking was therapeutic. I would play an audiobook whilst cooking and was finally able to read two books a month. Another bonus: It was easier to practice intermittent fasting where I’d eat at 2:00 p.m. and stop before 7:00 p.m. This routine gave me structure and saved so much time. Now that we can go out, I still do this at least five days a week, as it makes me feel calm, disciplined, and enriched.”
—Georgina Chang, communication coach and mentor, Singapore
“One new technique that I picked up during the pandemic that continues to be a positive change for me is setting intentions for every part of my day. This technique is called Segment Intending. I divide the day into three segments, such as personal, work, and family. Each segment has two things that I want or need to accomplish for that day. The intentions I set are always positive. That way, even if some unforeseen and unpleasant circumstances happen, I still train my mind to see the positive in that moment of interaction. It also helps divide your day into manageable segments.”
—Armida Markarova, leadership development and employee engagement, Chicago, IL
Doing at-home workouts
“Since I could not go to my regular gym during the pandemic, I bought an elliptical to be able to do a bit of exercise indoors in winter, as I struggle with seasonal affective disorder. I am a big fan of electronic dance music, so to start off my day in a better mood, I use the elliptical for twenty minutes and I play videos of recorded EDM sets, which I think helped with my endorphins and mentally reminded me of an activity that I would soon get to do again. I still do this on days where I don’t go to the gym!”
—Duane Taylor, technical account manager, Washington, D.C.
Spending time outside
“During the pandemic, I increased my outdoor exercise routine — rain, snow, or shine. I began walking on empty country roads for 90 minutes every day. While some days the snow was in my face, I found it invigorating. I just had to walk and my body did the rest. The ritual encompassed simplicity and serenity at the same time. This improved my mood and it’s still a staple in my routine.”
—Cathy Connally, managing partner, Toronto, ON, Canada
Daily free writing
“Every evening, I set a timer and free-write for three minutes. I write anything that needs to come out of my mind and onto the page. It’s been eye-opening, recording the gratitude, the small wins, the creative ideas, and the connection parts of the day that normally I’d overlook or not make the time and space to see. I force myself to write for three minutes and typically the goodness comes out in the last 30 seconds!”
—Lisa Pezik, business strategist and content expert, Ontario, Canada
Checking in with loved ones
“I missed my family and friends, but we have found ways to reassure each other of our love. I stay connected with them through video chats, phone calls, and text messages. I reach out to friends when I am having a bad day, and regularly check in to see how they are doing.”
—Sara Leandro, health coach, Berlin
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