In the wake of the COVID-19 epidemic, our health – and how to protect it – is at the forefront of all our minds. With everything from dull daily routines to exciting future plans up-ended, our priorities have shifted.
Nowadays, many of us are finding it harder to remember the last party we went to or even how to talk to people. Instead, our brains have made way for vital information about hand-washing and coughing into our elbows. But, while it’s true that these healthy habits can help the spread of coronavirus, staying healthy is about so much more than avoiding germs.
In these isolating, unpredictable times, protecting both our physical and mental health – and the health and well-being of those around us – should be our main focus. Keep reading to find out some of the best healthy habits to adopt this year.
Protect Yourself and Others From COVID-19
While there’s more to enjoying a healthy 2021 than avoiding COVID-19, it’s still the most immediate threat we have to deal with so it’s important to stay vigilant. This means continuing to practice the ‘three Ws’: wash your hands, watch your distance, and wear a mask.
Varying COVID-19 mask mandates across the US has led to doubt and confusion about their efficacy. But face masks do help reduce the spread of coronavirus by filtering up to 95 percent of the particles in the air, as you can learn more about here: https://brookwoodmed.com/blogs/news/everything-you-wanted-to-know-and-more-about-kn95-masks.
So, as uncomfortable as you might find face masks, wearing one is a small contribution you can make to the health of those around you, as well as a healthy habit to adopt for your own safety too.
Get Outside Every Day
Social distancing, curfews, and travel restrictions mean we’re not able to move as freely as we once were. But staying indoors 24/7 can have detrimental effects on everything from your mood to your immune system. So, even if it’s only a 10-minute walk around the block, try to get outside at least once every day.
If you live in a populated urban area, try to avoid the crowds and head for a park or a quiet backstreet. You can treat this as exercise and pick up your speed if you want. But going slow and taking time to smell the roses still offers a wealth of benefits for your physical and mental health.
Time spent outside makes it easier for your body to absorb vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D is essential for strong bones, a resilient immune system, and the optimal functioning of many organs.
Spending time in nature is also a great way to reduce stress and anxiety. Even catching a glimpse of natural elements like trees, grass, or a river can help increase feelings of positivity and calm anxious thoughts. And, you’ll find that the change of scenery can help clear the common lockdown symptom of brain fog too.
Maintain a Regular Sleep Schedule
Is your sleep schedule is all over the place since the start of the coronavirus pandemic? If so, you’re not alone. All you key workers are likely working longer hours than ever before. And no doubt the remote workers among you are logging on later and later and working long into the evening on a regular basis.
We get that the temptation to hit snooze has never been greater if you’re working from home. We also get that all you front-line workers need to do more with your free time than sleep. But, wherever possible, keeping a regular sleep schedule is one of the healthiest habits you can commit to this year.
We all know that getting around eight hours of sleep each night is good for our health. But did you know that we enjoy better quality, more restorative sleep if we go to sleep at 10 pm? If you can’t manage that, aim to go to sleep around the same time every night and we guarantee you’ll wake up feeling a lot more refreshed.
There are also healthy habits you can adopt to encourage better sleep. These include avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, turning off electronic devices at least an hour before bedtime, and exercising every day.
Control Your Media Consumption
In the pre-COVID-19 era, we used to spend a lot of time online. Now, though, many of us are living our entire lives online.
With so much virtual input, it’s important to recognize how the information we consume affects our mental health and well-being. We’re already living through a global pandemic with updated death figures to contend with every day. On top of that, our news feeds are full of hate crimes, police brutality, and natural disasters.
While it’s important to stay informed and connected, it’s all too easy to become overwhelmed by constant updates and a steady stream of bad news. With all this in mind, one of the best healthy habits to adopt in 2021 is to take control of the way you consume media.
Limit yourself to checking the news once a day, making sure to only consult unbiased, fact-based publications. As for social media, try to take a step back by deleting the apps from your phone. This means you’ll have to go to the specific websites to check your accounts, turning an unhealthy and automatic habit into something more intentional. You’ll soon find yourself checking in less often, and may even lose interest in certain sites altogether.
And, whenever you are on social media, don’t be afraid to mute, delete, or even block any accounts or friends whose posts, comments, or photos bring up negative emotions.
Keep Your Home Clean and Tidy
It might seem that you can always tidy later, or that the washing up can wait until tomorrow. After all, you have a lot of time on your hands and it’s not as if anyone will be coming over. But thinking like this can lead to dissatisfaction, distraction, and disease within your home environment. As such, we’re firm believers in maintaining a daily cleaning and tidying schedule as a healthy habit for both your mental and physical well-being.
Regular cleaning and disinfecting help limit the germs and food waste in your home. This, in turn, reduces the chances of getting sick from bacteria like E. coli, and of encountering an infestation of pests like mice and ants. A clean and tidy home also ensures that your environment is uplifting and inspiring, which is even more important since you’re spending so much time there.
To make sure you keep up with this healthy habit, we recommend a deep clean once a week combined with daily tidying and light cleaning. Devoting a few minutes a day to clearing away surfaces, straightening shelves, and picking up things from the floor will help make your space feel and look calmer and more orderly.
Committing to certain tasks every day can also help make it easier to keep your standards up. For example, you could make your bed every morning and clean the kitchen after dinner every night. Healthy habits like these stop you from getting distracted by mess and clutter, while also reinforcing your need to live in a positive environment.
Enjoy Small Daily Rituals
Living and working or studying in the same space can make it difficult to disconnect when it’s time to log off. With no physical distance between how you have to spend your day and how you choose to spend your evenings, winding down can feel impossible. As a result, it’s common to find yourself gulping down coffee as you multitask in the kitchen or thinking about tomorrow’s to-do list while eating dinner.
Turning these negative and distracted behaviors into healthy habits isn’t easy, but it is possible to learn how to disconnect better and become more mindful about the way you spend your free time. It can help to move to a different part of the house, or you could even devote a certain area of your home to relaxation. For example, you could make a point of going to sit on a specific armchair in the living room to enjoy your coffee rather than standing up in the kitchen.
And, if you find that your phone is taking all of your attention, leave it in another room and dedicate some scrolling time to a screen-free activity you enjoy, such as reading a book or soaking in the tub. Small daily rituals like this help to punctuate your day, boosting your mood and releasing stress in the process. And, the more you commit to making relaxation a priority, the easier you’ll find it is to relax.
Healthy Habits to Adopt in 2021
As these healthy habits show, adhering to COVID-19 recommendations is the best way to protect ourselves and each other.
But we also have to consider how living through the pandemic has affected everything from our sleep patterns to our media consumption, and that taking control of these issues and more is also essential for good health and well-being.
For more insights and advice on everything from health to entertainment, be sure to check out our other blog posts.