At first, we had just one idea in mind: going back to normal. When the pandemic hit at the beginning of 2020 and parts of the world went into lockdown — with office workers operating from home and social lives put on hold — we couldn’t help but think about the days when everything would be exactly like it had always been.
After more than a year living and coping with COVID-19, those of us who’ve been fortunate enough to be healthy and keep our jobs are starting to be confronted with the reality of life after being vaccinated. And as the country starts reopening, and as it’s looking like things are getting back to some form of normal, we may realize that certain habits we’ve developed during the last months of the pandemic might not be that bad after all.
Here are a few of the things we started doing in quarantine that we definitely want to keep going forward:
Working from Home on a Regular Basis
With more and more companies moving to a hybrid model that will allow workers to keep working from home at least a few days a week, it doesn’t look like you’ll need to actually get out of your sweats/leggings that often.
Even if we missed the office gossip and chatting with colleagues during the lunch break at the beginning of the pandemic, the whole idea of commuting to work five days a week sounds like a little bit too much after so many months of being at home pretty much all day. Five-day weeks in the office lack all the appeal right now.
Doing Away with Skinny Jeans
Apparently, the fashion scales have been reversed and the share prices of denim brand Levi Strauss are up 45% from last year while the yoga apparel empire Lululemon Athletica has seen its stock lower by 6.9%. That means we’ve lessened the leggings-buying frenzy and are feeling like rocking a pair of jeans again. Not just any pair of jeans, though. And certainly not skinny ones.
Fashion bloggers and influencers have been warning about it for months now: the decade-long reign of skinnies is finally over. And since all of us may or may not have put on at least a couple of pounds during quarantine, you can expect to see roomier styles in vogue, like skater jeans, wide-leg denims and slim-straight ones.
Getting the Instant Pot Going or Walking the Pup in the Middle of the Workday
I’m not saying the whole non-separation of professional and personal life is a good thing. But it’s helpful to work from home the same day the plumber needs to drop by to fix a leaking faucet or a piece of furniture needs to be delivered.
Pets have gotten used to all the extra company, attention and long walks due to our working-from-home routines. And there’s nothing like homemade roasted chicken or lentil stew for dinner because you’ve had the chance to get the chicken in the oven or set the Instant Pot on time.
Squeezing in a Strength Training Session or Run Before the 9 am Meeting or During a Lunch Break
You know all that sourdough baking, pizza making and banana bread devouring comes with a price. Less commuting and no socializing has not only meant more time spent cooking, but also more time spent trying to consume those extra calories.
Between the treadmills, the stationary bikes, the ankle weights, the resistance bands, the yoga mats and the dumbbells, we have pretty much managed to recreate some sort of gym or workout space at home. Nothing beats the energy of a live class where you’re surrounded by other people and the instructor can correct your posture or command you to try a little bit harder.
But the convenience of catching a quick 30-minute workout session first thing in the morning or during the lunch break has its advantages. Plus, online fitness classes really allow you to cut unnecessary commute time. They can be a more optimal way of exercising and don’t leave much room for excuses.
Ordering Food from Virtually Anywhere
Sometimes you don’t feel like getting out of the house — or cooking. And we’ve certainly gotten used to having all kinds of cuisines one tap away. Even fancy Michelin-starred restaurants have offered to-go menus that you could finish warming, plating and assembling at home.
Having so many delivery and takeout options available has definitely contributed to our foodie education.
Favoring Outdoor Activities (Especially During Summer)
With all those parklets added to restaurants, slow streets with no cars, open-air performances, backyard gatherings with friends, and book club meetings in parks, we’ve grown accustomed to a lot more outdoor-based activities. And why shouldn’t we?
We’ve reclaimed some spaces in our cities for al fresco experiences and pedestrians; we’ve discovered hiking can also be a social activity; and we’ve taken plenty of walks around the neighborhood and learned to enjoy them.
I get a little bit claustrophobic just writing about getting into indoor confined spaces with lots of other people. Let’s keep taking advantage of the outdoors, weather permitting.
Wearing a Mask While Catching a Plane or in a Crowded Subway During Flu Season
The list of things you want to have handy the next time you fly keeps growing: driver’s license, page-turner novel, noise-canceling headphones, reusable water bottle to fill once you’ve cleared security, device packed with entertainment, comfy shoes, an extra layer of clothing in case the plane is freezing, u-shaped pillow, hand sanitizer… And after the crash course in virology we’ve all had over the last year, getting into a cramped plane not wearing a face mask sounds like too much of a risk.
The same goes for a subway or train during rush hour in the peak of flu season: wearing a mask as a way of protection against airborne diseases seems like the safest thing to do going forward.
Not Having Much to Do
And since these last few months were not that exciting in terms of activities — but also taught us about the benefits of boredom — let’s remember to stay bored from time to time. Let’s not immediately fill our days with endless activities that take us from one place to another without the chance to reflect on what we’re doing or realize how much we’re enjoying it. Let’s not just pack our schedules too much. Not yet.