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Health & Fitness / Living

The Permanent Lifestyle Changes I Plan To Keep Even After The Pandemic Is Over

By Tuesday, November 10, 2020

I suspect 2020 has been a tough year for us all.

We’ve adjusted to a slew of new lifestyle changes, from work-from-home adjustments to travel restrictions to incorporating wearing masks and using hand sanitizer into our daily routines. But, as the year comes to an end, I’ve certainly found a few adjustments that I intend to keep for the long run, from physical, tangible changes to my environment and mindset amendments. Here are some of those changes below.

Indulge And Invest In The Space You Live In 

Invest in decor, DIY, and other details to tailor your space. These days our homes are multi-functional, multipurpose domains for work, living, entertaining and so much more.

Pre-COVID, I probably spent, on average, ten hours a day in the house, with eight to nine of those being asleep. As such, I didn’t invest much in the space I occupied. I used to live in a large townhome with six roommates, all to keep rent low, and my room was decorated with only the necessities, from a small desk to a comfortable mattress.

Now, however, I’ve come to appreciate space, primarily my own. I moved to a spacious apartment with just one other roommate, my own bathroom, and plenty of plants and decorations for aesthetics. While I’m cognizant of the immense privilege I’ve had in being able to make this move during the pandemic, I’ve also begun to indulge in my space in small ways, like buying flowers every two weeks to spruce up the environment, lighting candles nearly every evening for the sake of ambiance, and investing in comfy pillows and throws so I can lounge with ease. These are adjustments I may have only made if, say, I a friend visiting. But these days, from sunlight to fresh scents, I allow myself to soak in my space and really benefit from everything it has to offer.

Nourish Yourself For The Long Run, Not Just “Treat Yourself” For Now

We’ve all fallen prey to the risky “Treat Yourself” mentality, like paying for an expensive pedicure or a bath bomb and believing we’ll feel better at the end of it. More often than not, these are only temporary shifts to our stress-levels and moods.

I’ve found that more important than treating myself through insta-self-care treatments, what I really needed to do in order to truly reset was nourish my mind, body, and soul.

I don’t think I properly understood the difference between these two concepts until the past few months hit me with a vengeance. For me, nourishing myself means a long FaceTime call with a close friend, opening our hearts to one another, and laughing through the hard times. It means taking the time and making the effort to set up genuinely refreshing virtual sessions with loved ones, like pasta-making (with an actual pasta maker), or watching the Great British Baking Show every week over a Netflix Party. It also means carving out time for certain chores, like cooking, so that I can enjoy the process and not feel stressed about it. It means prioritizing therapy in my budget over takeout, setting aside time on my work calendar to exercise daily, and making time to read or pursue other hobbies I love. While a lot of these overlap with self-care, a lot also don’t and the distinction, though minor, is nevertheless important.  

Meditating Daily

Meditation is most effective when it’s done daily as a preventative form of protecting your peace, not just a reactionary response to stress in dire times.

I’ll admit it: I only meditate for 5-7 minutes a day. But, that’s still a huge improvement over zero. While I began the year by buying a journal and a plan to commit to increased mindfulness, I didn’t actually think I could stick to it. But, with nothing but time on our hands, I’ve made it a point to experiment with different meditation poses, styles, and techniques until I find what works best for me. While I’m not always the best meditation student, I do find myself with a clearer mind and heart on the days I prioritize it. As such, this is a practice I hope to continue, into the future, not just when times are tough and time is abundant. 

Really Listening To My Body

2020 is the year where I finally understood and engaged in the phrase, “Listen to your body,”  I’ve grown to have more compassion for my hormone-ridden female form.

Pre-COVID, I operated on a strict schedule. On Sundays, I’d grocery shop, meal prep, and spend the evening with friends. I’d “sleep in” until about 6 am on Monday and hit the gym after work, fitting in two workouts. I’d then diligently workout every morning at 5:30 am from Tuesday through Friday, eating the meals I had prepped over the weekend, only indulging in takeout if I had an event, like Book Club, or was meeting a friend.

Over the weekend, there was no working out and no restrictions on my meals, and then, come Monday, the cycle would begin all over again. Given that I took public transit to work and walked everywhere, my lifestyle was active and healthy, but also tough. I always signed up in advance for group fitness classes, so even if I felt tired or sore, canceling wasn’t exactly a budget-friendly option given that I’d have to pay a fee. And if I wanted different food by Thursday than what I had prepped on Sunday, I was just out of luck. While this strict routine did wonders for my budget, including contributing to me paying off my student debt within months after graduation, it didn’t allow much room for me to really listen to my body and what it really needed. 

As I write this, I’ve now gone not one, but two days without working out. And, while it can partially be attributed to laziness, it’s mostly a result of soreness. So, I’m listening to my body and taking it easy and not beating myself up about it. Tomorrow morning I’m going to be back at it, and I know that. I’ve also begun listening to what my body needs, both in terms of nutrition and rest.

For the former, as mentioned before, I’ve grown more compassion for my hormone-ridden female self. If I’m hungrier on some days compared to others, I accept it. If I have a craving, I indulge it — to an extent. I no longer follow a strict schedule of meals since, being at home, I have flexibility with what I cook. but I can always grab takeout, too. For the latter, I’ve taken to resting more. While I typically get eight hours of sleep a night and have trouble napping during the day, I’ve begun to simply take breaks when I need to lounge on the couch or curl up under my blankets to watch YouTube videos for a half hour. Whatever my body and mind need, I’ve grown more accustomed to recognizing and honoring that, instead of criticizing it. 

While this time is temporary, I’m nevertheless hoping to have lifelong takeaways from it that are positive, too, not merely negative memories. Are there any lifestyle or mindset changes that you plan to keep, post-COVID?

Keertana Anandraj is a recent college grad living in San Francisco. When she isn’t conducting international macroeconomic research at her day job, you can find her in the spin room or planning her next adventure.

Image via Unsplash

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