From Woman’s Day
If you’ve ever been through a struggle, then you’ve probably had people tell you, “Well, everything happens for a reason!” In difficult, painful circumstances, this phrase can be annoying at best and tonally off at worse. It’s also a phrase that’s been tossed around quite a bit during COVID-19 and stay-at-home orders. It’s understandable that people are desperately searching for silver linings in a time where there doesn’t seem to be much concrete hope at all. But to people who have battled the virus themselves or watch loved ones deal with it, it can be an irritating idea. Personally, I’m a realist. And realistically speaking, quarantine has been difficult. This whole year has been difficult. Still, as thankful as I am for my health, my family’s health, and my ability to work from home, it’s impossible not to look at the ways my life has changed in the past 90-plus days and not observe visible change, especially when it comes to my habits.
Before COVID-19, I had spent the first few months of 2020 getting into what I felt was a healthy, sustainable groove. I found a group workout class that I loved going to each week. I figured out a budget and was sticking to it. My fiancé and I were exploring our new town by trying out a new restaurant each week. And, after planning a wedding for almost two years, we were approaching the big day.
Then everything changed. No more budgeted grocery shopping trips. No more group workout classes. No more dinners out. No more weekly schedule of going places and doing things. No more wedding (at least not this year). But after a bit of an adjustment period, these old habits were replaced with new habits — and a lot of the new habits are actually pretty great.
Using Exercise As A Punishment
When it became clear that we’d be staying in our homes for a while, I told myself one thing: I would commit to workout out four days a week for my mental health. I wouldn’t weigh myself or count how many calories I was burning, but instead would use this time at home as an opportunity to show myself the power of exercise as an anxiety-relief tool.
I knew how much exercise helped my anxiety levels already, but before the pandemic, it was easy to put workouts on the backburner. For the first time in my life, I’ve actually stuck with exercise for months at a time. And for the first time in my life, I’m not using it as a way to cancel out food I’ve eaten or reach a certain weight. I’m doing it because I need anxiety relief more than ever, and it’s been so, so worth it.
Mindless Retail Therapy
Before quarantine, I was the queen of buying things just to buy them. Fancy dinner reservation? New dress. Upcoming vacation? Three new bathing suits. Being home every day, all day forced me to think about what I really wanted to invest in when it came to my wardrobe — and what I didn’t. It quickly became clear that all those cheap, trendy purchases were the things that got thrown out and ignored the quickest. I’ve still made a couple clothing purchases since quarantine began, but they’ve been things I really needed and knew I’d wear often, like comfy workout and lounge shorts.
Shopping At Big Box Grocery Stores
Before quarantine, I was relying on chain grocery stores for most of my food. I was a sucker for the affordable frozen meals in a bag or the pre-packaged salads that came in plastic bags. It made life easy and was affordable. Although there’s certainly nothing wrong with a haul from your local, big name grocer, I would often look at the amount of plastic that my groceries were packaged in upon returning home and feel guilty. Being at home and trying to avoid crowded stores has forced me to choose other options for groceries, like shopping for staples and meals at local vendors, making a weekly trip to a farmer’s market, and making my own snacks from scratch. This means less plastic, less processed food, less preservatives, and more knowledge about where my food is actually coming from. I feel healthier, but I also simply enjoy food a lot more. I’m sure I’ll return to my beloved big box store eventually for an occasional trip, but in the meantime, I’m liking the changes we’ve made to our food consumption habits.
Watching TV For Hours On End
My fiancé and I love watching TV together, but weirdly enough, we’ve watched less than ever since quarantine has begun. We still watch an episode or two of a show most nights, but other than that we rarely turn on the TV. Knowing that we had to find other things to do within our house made us get creative.
It’s been wonderful to discover new hobbies like gardening, tending to houseplants, baking, pickling, and redecorating. Before quarantine, we’d probably have a day every other weekend where we’d sit on the couch all day and marathon a show on Netflix. And though that certainly still happens from time to time, it’s a rarity, and it’s been a refreshing change.
Using Paper Towels
Towards the beginning of our now 90-day long stay-at-home order, we ran out of paper towels. We didn’t want to go to a store and they were sold out everywhere online. So we got creative. My fiancé found a brand of reusable towels on Amazon and purchased them mostly as something to use just until paper towels were back in stock online. Turns out, though, that we love them. They’re dishwasher safe, effective, and sustainable. It’s a small change, but the idea of never having to buy paper towels again is pretty awesome in and of itself.
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