After a year of disruptions to daily routines due to the pandemic, many people are starting to resume some of their normal activities. With decreased rates of COVID-19 in the community and increasing numbers of those vaccinated, folks are returning to in-person work and school among other activities. While this is important progress, some people have gotten accustomed to the unexpected perks of being at home. There are some simple steps you can take to care for yourself and your family as you transition back into the world after quarantine.
While sheltering at home this past year, you may have gotten used to the benefits of always being a few steps away from the kitchen and even taking an afternoon nap if needed. Being at home deeply affected how we lived our lives. Eating routines, exercise regimens and sleep patterns looked quite different. Returning to school or the office will likely require additional lifestyle changes. Here are some tips to make this transition smoother.
Choose Energizing Meals and Snacks
After being home for many months, a return to the office or school will likely require a new level of meal planning. While at home, meals could be thrown together last-minute between conference calls or video meetings. Being away from home means a return to packing meals and snacks to-go. Plus, choosing balanced meals plays an important role in sustaining focus and energy levels, preventing the dreaded afternoon slump.
Choose meals that balance lean protein, high-fiber carbs and some healthy fats such as a tuna sandwich on whole grain bread with a side salad or a chicken and quinoa bowl with broccoli and avocado. Healthy snacks with whole foods that pair protein and carbs are a good choice too. Some smart options include hummus and baby carrots, edamame or whole-grain crackers and cheese.
Implement a Bedtime Routine
Returning to that morning commute likely means saying goodbye to the extra morning sleep or the afternoon nap that you were able to squeeze in while home all day. Prioritizing a decent bedtime can help you combat stress and support good health. If you don’t already have a bedtime routine, now is the time to create one. You can start setting the stage for good sleep two to three hours before bedtime by dimming lights and avoiding bright screens like cell phones and computers. Enjoyable rituals like herbal tea, aromatherapy, journaling and meditation may also be incorporated. A solid bedtime routine is a true investment in your health and well-being.
Embrace Regular Outdoor Activity
While some folks are not ready to return to their pre-COVID exercise routines, others may have found more time and opportunity to be active during the past year. Now warmer weather and longer days make this the ideal time to get outside. Whether you enjoy walking, hiking, swimming or other outdoor activities, both moving your body and being outside offer healthful benefits for mind and body. Studies show that compared with indoor exercise, exercising in natural environments is associated with greater feelings of revitalization and positive engagement. When we enjoy physical activity there are fewer barriers to doing it, making the activity more likely to become a part of one’s lifestyle.
Continue to Practice Measures to Mitigate Transmission of COVID-19
There is a general consensus among experts that there is good reason to be optimistic about a future where coronavirus is not pervasive. At the same time, we cannot overestimate the importance of staying vigilant about mask-wearing, social distancing, hand washing and staying home when one gets sick. As we enter the next phase of the pandemic, we can bolster our routines for optimal physical and mental health.