Exercise & Health

Healthy Habits Forged in a Pandemic: The Lifestyle Changes We Will Keep

What lifestyle habits — foisted on you during the pandemic — do you plan to keep once quarantines are lifted? In a recent ADDitude survey, readers reflected on their gratitude journals, daily exercise, simpler schedules, self-care routines, and more.

Asian old senior workout exercise and doing yoga at home
Asian old senior workout exercise and doing yoga at home

Wasting less food. Walking outside every day. Carving out family game nights. Streamlining morning routines.

We hesitate to call these silver linings, but some of the changes forced upon us over the last year are proving to be not-altogether-awful. The pandemic’s negative toll on our mental and physical health is undeniable, but now more and more of us are also recognizing the healthy habits we’ve forged in this time.

In a recent survey, ADDitude readers responded to the question, “What is one positive habit you developed during the pandemic that you plan to keep in your life?” Below are some of our favorite responses. Please share your newly formed habits — however big or small — in the Comments sections below that you plan on keeping after the pandemic.

Healthy Habits Forged in a Pandemic

“I’ve managed to attend therapy every week with someone I trust. As the session is online and I don’t have to travel, it is easier for me to keep it up. I don’t get anxious about the journey and about dropping work when there is no travel time.” – Anonymous

“I have learnt to be kinder to myself and let go of needing to control everything because it is no longer possible.” – Jules, United Kingdom

Walking my puppy, who I adore. I am a huge animal person so I got her to help cope with the pandemic, and now I can’t go a day without our adventure walk.”  – Anonymous

[Additional Reading: Leveraging Sleep, Exercise, and Nutrition to Improve ADHD]

“My wife and I have restarted a daily gratitude journal where we list five things we are grateful for about the other, and then ask for one thing we need from the other in the next day. It’s grounded us as many marriages are falling apart around us. – Anonymous

“I never knew how to play piano, but a keyboard and some of my favorite songs gave me a new hobby to learn! There are a lot of great piano apps and enough videos on YouTube for you to learn a musical instrument from your home. When I’m anxious, it’s a good distraction as well as a fun hobby!” – Anonymous

“I’ve made a huge effort to listen to my mind and my body, to process my emotions and work through them instead of plowing ahead because of having too much to do. As a result, I have fewer migraines and very few emotional meltdowns at the end of the week. I can sustain my energy better and be more flexible with my ADHD symptoms.” – Amanda, California

“I started tracking my mood, medication, exercise, sleep, food intake, hours worked, and more. This has really helped me to determine links that impact how I feel and what I am able to do for the next day.” – Anonymous

[Read This Next: 7 Framing Tools for ADHD Minds Emerging from Quarantine]

“Every morning I wake up and list one ‘have to’ and one ‘want to’ for the day. I must complete the former before I can do the latter. This way I get something checked off of my list — and a reward. Today I took care of an insurance bill and now I am getting ready to read a coveted magazine.” – Nicole W.

“The most important positive habit I have formed during the pandemic is simplifying my life. Having a schedule that is not constantly bombarded allows my ADHD brain to be more organized and relaxed. I usually over-schedule and put my brain on autopilot to get everything done, but now my schedule is much healthier and less stressful. This pandemic has taught me something important about my ADHD brain: less is more.” – Tanya

“My children and I have ADHD and going to a store meant multiple impulse purchases. With grocery apps, I only buy what we need. I pass my phone to my teens and we each select what we need for the upcoming two weeks. We are saving money and throwing away less food. I’ll probably never go back to grocery shopping in a store.” – Christina, Arizona

“I made a commitment to wash all of my dishes each night, and to not skip a night. It is OK if the clean dishes are left in the drying rack overnight. I think I only missed one or two nights in nine months.” – Barb, Michigan

“I have decided to ‘just let go’ of non-essential decisions in life — like which brand of toilet paper to buy or what to make for dinner. In my ADHD mind, even non-essential decisions and opinions like these mattered a lot before. Now I know they aren’t as important as my family’s health.” – Chana, Israel

“I started exercising every day! I fell in love with powerlifting, stopped drinking soda, began eating better, and went back to school for sports nutrition and fitness. These changes have helped to tame my debilitating ADHD, mood disorder, and anxiety.” – Kaley, Wisconsin

“I have relished not living a busy life. It used to be filled with appointments, gatherings, leaving the house for this and that during the weekends. I refuse to go back to that life, other than seeing family again. Leading a busy life is not necessarily fulfilling.” – Molly, Missouri

“Having to work from home and homeschool has forced me to become more organized. I’ve finally began using lists, reminders, and calendars to keep my life on track. It has been life changing!” – Anonymous

“I am keeping track of my small victories in visual format on my tablet. I’m especially time blind with respect to the past, and this makes it hard to maintain more than a meager and often dark vision of the future. Having tricks to remember my progress will help me through future tough times.” – Anonymous

“I’ve learned more consistent self-care habits such as cooking at home, daily exercise, and a proper night of sleep. Having two very active children has made it tough to properly care for myself, but this pandemic has forced me to slow down.” – Amy, Georgia

Breathing. Taking a deep breath and then exhaling at a slower pace. There is something that happens to my body when I do that: I feel whole.” – Anonymous

“I started studying Italian. One day after the pandemic it will serve me well on an Italian vacation adventure. Fingers crossed.” – Beth, Colorado

“I have been exercising every day with Zoom classes to burn off anxious energy. Live Zoom classes are the perfect combination of external social pressure and a rigid schedule that makes me show up. Then I feel like I’ve accomplished something important every day.” – Anonymous

“I’ve mastered sourdough baking. Even though it’s just one recipe that I follow, making my own delicious bread makes me (and people with whom I share the loaf) very happy… I’m also trying to label everything using masking tape and sharpies.” – Anonymous

“I have been completing daily meditation through the Headspace app when I wake up.” – Anonymous

“I now use a monthly and daily calendar. I was missing appointments, having time disappear, and generally getting nothing done. I’m not successful every day, but it sure has improved.” – Anonymous

“I started to read again and it’s something I’m going to try to do every day, even if it’s only a few pages.” – Anonymous

Healthy Habits Forged in the Pandemic: Next Steps

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