Healthy habits: bringing lockdown routines into the post-COVID era

Needless to say, COVID-19 has had quite an impact on our lives over the last two years, particularly for workers in medical care, social support, and hospitality.

As large swathes of the world went into unprecedented lockdowns to tackle the onslaught of the first COVID-19 wave, our beloved industries were arguably the most affected by COVID, albeit in wildly different ways…

Staff in hospitals and clinics suddenly found themselves faced with the hardest working conditions imaginable, while hospitality workers were largely forced out of work.

Despite finding themselves in the same position, everyone’s experience of mandatory lockdowns was a little different. In the UK, COVID-19 was undeniably detrimental to people’s mental health and wellbeing, but for some, this unprecedented opportunity was the catalyst to take stock and make some important life decisions.

Creatures of habit

With the worst of the pandemic seemingly behind us, we are beginning to come to terms with the new normal of a post-COVID world. Many of the habits we got used to over the course of two lockdowns proved beneficial to our mental health and general wellbeing, so why should things go back to how they were before? How can you continue to have these healthy habits in your new post-COVID life? Brigad has looked into how workers’ lives changed during COVID-19 and how they can truly get the best of both worlds in this hybrid, post-COVID era.

Daily routines you could set your watch by

Humans are a remarkable species, famed for their ability to adapt to new situations and environments – and healthcare and hospitality workers demonstrate heightened resolve and resilience. So, that is exactly what people found themselves doing during lockdown: coming to terms with their new environment and finding a “new normal” among the complete disruption of the previous world order.

Health and hospitality work is synonymous with long, antisocial hours and erratic shift patterns. This routine (or lack thereof) brings with it a host of health risks, but when we have work to concentrate on, it is easy to feel unaffected and just get on with the job. During the UK’s COVID lockdowns, however, workers at home found themselves falling into a more ‘normal’ daily routine, to the benefit of their health and general wellbeing. Even with a return to work, and understaffing in our industries undoubtedly increasing workloads and hours, there are steps we can take to mitigate the toll shift work can take on our body. For example, the Sleep Charity sets out some indispensable tips for improving your sleeping habits while working shifts, from paying attention to what you eat and drink, to taking public transport to avoid fatigue-related accidents, and putting your phone on silent to limit disturbance from those pesky notifications! Things don’t have to go back to how they were before – implement these strategies to reconcile your busy schedule and your physical wellbeing.

Hearty and healthy home-cooked meals

Talking of eating and drinking, we all know someone who turned their hand to bread making during the first COVID lockdown – and if you can’t think of anyone, then it was probably you! Indeed, forced isolation afforded people the time they usually lack to rediscover the joys of home cooking and learn new ways to experiment with fresh produce. A recent study showed that the number of Brits cooking every meal from scratch has increased to one in five since COVID, while a remarkable 93% enjoy home-cooked meals at least once a week.

For the chefs among us (professional or amateur), with unique access to food suppliers offering home delivery to keep business going, we had first refusal on an impressive range of fresh fruits and vegetables that many could only dream of.

Maintaining these positive nutritional behaviours can, of course, seem tricky, but cooking your own meals (organic, if possible) from scratch is not only healthier, but can also be a joint effort and reinforce social ties among people in your household. In order to keep this habit as part of your new routine, why not try planning meals in advance? Building a meal schedule has many advantages, from saving time and money to reducing food waste. Batch cooking on your day off is another fantastic way to support this habit, and there are endless recipe ideas and techniques online that you can use for inspiration.

Similarly, if you took up a different hobby while respecting isolation measures (like two thirds of Brits), you could try to find a group in your area that you can now practice with in person on your days off.

Friends & family

As workers in hospitality or medical and social care, you know more than anyone how difficult it can be to maintain a fulfilling social life while working challenging shifts. COVID lockdowns brought with them the unexpected rise of the humble “pub” quiz between friends and families – across the UK and abroad! It was the perfect activity for those of us who found ourselves out of work: preparing questions, setting themes, and putting together a slideshow for the pictures round.

Nurturing a robust social life is incredibly important for our overall wellbeing, and the opportunity to connect with loved ones in this way through COVID brought us undeniable comfort and helped us through months of uncertainty.

As we go back to work, it is essential to look after our “social health” despite juggling a busy schedule. Making the effort to proactively send invitations or organise social events (like a real-life pub quiz, for example!) is the best way to blend your social life with your professional responsibilities. Remember: as a Brigader, you have the freedom to choose your missions around this social calendar so that you never have to miss out.

Regular exercise

During the first COVID lockdown, Joe Wicks single-handedly led the flashback to the 90s hay-day of following aerobic videos from your front room (curtains closed, of course) with tins of beans for dumbbells. For workers in all industries, regular exercise was one of the healthiest habits that people picked up during lockdowns.

In our line of work, though, we have to admit that you probably don’t need any tips for keeping moving now you are back at work. Forget 10,000 steps a day, restaurant workers in one experiment have been regularly clocking up more than ten times the average UK step count since their establishment reopened – and we all know that staff in health and social care can relate.

Nevertheless, it is worthwhile to note the importance of sitting down a bit less and the extraordinary influence on mental health and wellbeing it can have. From improving sleep and general mood to alleviating stress and anxiety, there are so many reasons for us to remain active in this post-COVID era.

Healthy habits for a busy lifestyle

Thousands of Brigaders enjoy the freedom to choose missions that allow them to maintain healthy lockdown habits and juggle a busy work schedule in this post-COVID world. As a freelancer finding shifts through Brigad, you work your own way and have the power to prioritise, while building your industry expertise.

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