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The coronavirus pandemic and resulting restrictions have already put a mark on everything from our shopping to the work world.
Plexiglass barriers at the checkout, face coverings and other physical changes likely will remain with us for some time.
Some changes, however, are less material and more mental. And not all of the adjustments introduced by the COVID-19 outbreak are necessarily bad ones. The following new habits are actually worth retaining.
1. Staying stocked up for emergencies
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The great toilet paper panic of 2020 reminded many people of the old Boy Scout motto: Be prepared.
Pandemic aside, other natural disasters, from earthquakes to blizzards, could make getting to the grocery store difficult. You may not need 600 rolls of Charmin but it’s good to have an emergency stock of such necessities.
To get started, check out “20 Things That Are Actually Worth Stockpiling.”
2. Streaming home entertainment
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Movie theaters are having to grapple with a new world of distancing regulations as they start reopening. Meanwhile, the pandemic has helped many of us discover that a whole entertainment universe exists on our computers, phones, tablets and gaming devices.
For some new ideas, read “15 Free Streaming Services to Watch While Stuck at Home.”
3. Tipping generously
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Doctors and nurses aren’t the only essential workers out there. Don’t forget delivery people, who step out into a contagious world daily to get you your groceries, pizza and Amazon essentials.
Thank them in one of the few ways you can — by upping your usual tipping percentage, even after things calm down.
4. Leaving cheerful chalk messages
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Chalk is cheap. If you have a sidewalk or driveway, you’ve got a huge canvas for hopeful messages and pretty pictures.
Joggers and walkers appreciate cheerful decorations as they make their neighborhood circuits. You don’t have to be Michelangelo to coax a smile or two out of passers-by.
5. Adopting home exercise routines
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Many gyms and recreation centers closed down during the pandemic, forcing fitness fans to move their workouts home. It’s been a reminder that you don’t need pricey equipment to exercise. An inexpensive jump rope, free workout videos and a small space can help you sweat out the stress of these times.
Get started with “9 Free Ways to Work Out From Home.”
6. Shopping smarter
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Maybe you tried online grocery delivery for the first time? Or discovered your neighborhood still has a milk delivery person? Or tried a community-supported agriculture box of farm-fresh fruits and veggies?
Or perhaps you simply honed your grocery shopping to a smarter practice — hitting one store instead of three, or planning your menus ahead of time rather than wandering blankly through the grocery aisles.
These are all smart shopping habits that can persist well after any outbreak.
7. Checking on neighbors in need
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The coronavirus pandemic is hard on everyone, but the elderly, ill and those living alone may struggle more than others. Even as things start to settle into a new normal, keep up those habits of checking in on neighbors who might need help with grocery runs or simple home chores.
8. Washing hands thoroughly
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Even those who were dutiful hand-washers before the coronavirus outbreak likely learned something about cleanliness over the past year.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, or about the time it takes you to sing the “Happy Birthday” song twice. For more tips, check out “Are You Making These 7 Hand-Washing Mistakes?”
9. Investigating new media
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It’s not, and discovering new forms of media during a pandemic means you’ll still be able to enjoy them when things are more normal again.
10. Getting back to the garden
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Even if you only have a small yard or balcony garden, you can plant tasty edibles that will save you a shopping trip. Also, you’ll get the pride of knowing you raised the food yourself.
11. Decluttering and donating or selling
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Stuck at home, many of us want those homes to look and feel clutter-free. And, finally, we have had the time to make it happen. Sorting through a closet, extra room or garage is a great, freeing feeling. Take that clutter to a thrift store, you can feel good knowing your old stuff is a new treasure to someone else.
Then, again, you might be able to make a little cash. To learn how you can sell your unwanted items without having to meet up with the buyer in person, check out “6 Safe Ways to Sell Your Clutter During the Pandemic.”
12. Learning to work from home
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Working from home was once a rare privilege. During the pandemic, it became a necessity. Whether you love commuting to your couch or miss your office coffeemaker and co-worker pals, having the technical equipment and knowledge to work from home is a plus.
13. Enjoying games and jigsaw puzzles
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Last year’s lockdown led to some families digging through the old board game closet and pulling out such standards as Monopoly, Clue and, yes, the often-forgotten jigsaw puzzle.
Old-fashioned, maybe, but sometimes it’s easier to chat and catch up over a puzzle than a loud video game.
14. Honoring graduates
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The class of 2020, whether graduating from preschool or med school, was robbed of the traditional emotional graduation ceremony complete with cap and gown and handshakes.
Family and friends celebrated their graduates anyway, with colorful yard signs announcing their graduates — some personalized with senior pictures. Why can’t we put yard signs out for grads every year? It’s a simple way to honor their years of hard work. What an A+ idea.
15. Supporting local businesses
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When everything from independent bookstores to restaurants quickly closed down in the pandemic, many local outlets quickly moved their businesses online. Supporting small businesses of all kinds is a vital way to help keep a vibrant economy alive and to help your neighbors.
16. Staying connected with video chats
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The lockdown inspired many people to discover just how simple it is to organize a video chat to stay in touch with a large group of far-flung family members or even just one or two friends. Why stop now? Sheltering in place has taught many of us to use easy videoconferencing apps.
17. Purging the freezer
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Did you empty out your pantry during the pandemic? Many home cooks used the lockdown time to turn to tasty but forgotten options hiding in their freezer or cupboard. It’s a good reminder that we’ve often stored plenty of good eating in our homes — and sometimes we need to eat it up.
18. Learning something
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Kids aren’t the only ones who benefit from distance learning. The coronavirus pandemic has proved that online education has become a well-developed technology. Learn Spanish, sign language, coding or photography with the help of YouTube videos, podcasts and other online courses.
19. Deep cleaning
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Who has time to clean the dryer vent, rotate the mattress or wipe down the top of the refrigerator? During the lockdown, some of us have had nothing but time. It’s a good reminder that if we seek out those weird little cleaning jobs — maybe pick one or two a month — the house will both look and run better.
20. Rediscovering letter-writing
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Spotting a handwritten envelope in a pile of boring bills can make someone’s day.
The mail kept coming during the outbreak, but for many of us, it only served to remind us that we only receive bills and advertisements.
Make it a goal to be the letter writer in your family. You don’t need fancy cards or stationery — blank white paper is fine. You can also clip out and share a magazine recipe or article that caught your eye.
21. Pampering yourself
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The stress and extra time from a lockdown combined to help some of us rediscover self-care.
Keep up that habit and pamper yourself where you can, whether with a candle-surrounded bubble bath, a fancy new hand lotion or that hot new best-seller. Small treats can make a big difference.
22. Rediscovering old favorites
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Dig out that old novel that was your favorite read in college. Introduce the kids to “Casablanca” or another classic movie. Sometimes, old friends are the best friends.
23. Making meals an occasion
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When you’re stuck eating every meal at home, it’s time to get creative. Break out the fancy plates and glasses. Spread a picnic on the living-room floor or in the backyard. Home meals can be special, and just as enjoyable as restaurant dining — at a much lower cost.
24. Passing on old playthings
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Kids grow up fast, but there’s no flashing red light that alerts parents to when the Barbie dolls or Lego blocks have officially been outgrown. Endless hours stuck at home may have inspired you, however, to sort through a generation’s worth of playthings and make plans to pass them on.
It’s a good plan to tackle this type of toy-sorting annually, leaving your home with nicely decluttered spaces. The bonus is that you give someone else’s child an out-of-season Christmas.
25. Celebrating creatively
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Pandemic birthdays have meant no big parties, no dinners out and no bounce-house gatherings for the kids. Instead, families have had to get creative.
Yard signs, drive-past parades of teachers and friends, and group video chats with far-off family can stay a part of birthday celebrations even years from now.
26. Being your own stylist
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With hair, nail and wax salons among the last businesses to reopen in some areas, home personal care has never been more important.
Whether it’s cutting your own bangs, plucking or waxing your eyebrows, or home manicures and pedicures, it’s smart to practice doing these simple services for yourself. Even in normal times, these habits are great for saving money.
27. Rediscovering the neighborhood
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Feel like getting on a plane anytime soon? Maybe not. Even those who love traveling may be hesitant to do so now. But there’s never been a better time to play tourist in your own hometown. Explore and appreciate those local parks, waterways and scenic sights — socially distanced, of course.
28. Using virtual appointments
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Telehealth, telemedicine, a virtual doctor appointment or whatever it’s called — visiting your doctor by video conference or phone isn’t just a pandemic solution. Many people have problems with transportation or live a good distance from specialists.
A virtual doctor may not be able to do everything. But for some situations, it’s an easy and convenient solution.
29. Enjoying creative hobbies
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From crocheting and knitting to stamp collecting, many crafts and hobbies seem almost like lost arts. Days spent in lockdown have been a perfect time to dig out needles, yarn and scrapbooks and rediscover the fun and mental engagement of creating something for a gift or just for the satisfaction of doing it. Who knows? You might even spark a new business.
30. Baking bread and goodies
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So many people turned to home baking in recent months that yeast and flour were hard to come by in many areas for a while.
If you can get your hands on these staples, keep that baking habit going. Home baking — whether to produce sourdough, biscuits, shortbread, biscotti or any other tasty treat — is a pastime that will comfort us long after the pandemic has passed.
31. Giving thoughtful small gifts
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The lockdown prevented many of us from visiting loved ones, but package and mail delivery allowed us to reach out anyway.
Sending a jigsaw puzzle to a bored aunt, mailing yeast to a baker friend whose city has yet to restock, or simply sending a good old greeting card all are ways to send love when you can’t share a hug in person.
32. Cooking up novel recipes
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The coronavirus outbreak sparked some novel cooking ideas, many requiring only the simplest ingredients. For example, marshmallowy dalgona (whipped) coffee requires just instant coffee, sugar and water. Cookie cereal and White Claw slushies, among other trendy dishes, also have had their viral moments.
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