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Health tips: Pandemic habits to keep and break

Health

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Cooped up for the past year, many of us have acquired some “pandemic habits” — both good (and maybe not so good). Our health expert, Karen Owoc, is here to review the past year’s quarantine behaviors and sort out which ones to keep and which ones to break.

HABIT #1 (Keep): Grocery shopping less.

• Pre-pandemic, it was too easy to pop into the grocery store several times a week.

• Shopping once a week or every two weeks has forced us to better plan our meals, and it helps save money.

HABIT #2 (Keep): Cooking more at home.

• Pre-pandemic, it was so easy to eat out and come up with many reasons to eat out.

• More frequent cooking at home is associated with better diet quality overall.

• Home cooking has wasted less food: A University of Michigan School of Public Health survey found that during the pandemic:

▪ 57% of Americans said they were throwing away less food.

HABIT #3 (Keep): Seeking medical care.

• Pre-pandemic, people were often hesitant to “bother” their doctors with an ailment, but the expanded use of telemedicine has made it easy and convenient for both the patient and doctor.

• Healthcare has become more efficient and has reduced the risk of picking up other illnesses that occur with an in-person visit.

HABIT #4 (Keep): Connecting virtually.

• Because of the lockdowns, older adults learned to Zoom and FaceTime with distant friends and family, which opened up a whole new world of social engagement.

• We found new ways to participate in life and distance has not been a barrier — e.g., online book clubs, cooking and exercise classes, movie nights, card games, Bingo, Pictionary, or Charades with their friends, family, and grandchildren.

HABIT #5 (Keep): Adopting infection-control habits.

Due to the pandemic, the following infection-control habits have been practiced:

• Washing hands properly and frequently.

• Avoiding sick people.

• Keeping tissues handy for coughs and sneezes.

• Wearing a mask to prevent spread of illness.

• Disinfecting high-touch surfaces daily (e.g., countertops and doorknobs).


HABIT #1 (Break): No pants.

• With limited places to go and working remotely, it’s been easy to just live and work in yoga pants, sweats, or PJ bottoms.

• The result: the stretchy wear didn’t alert you to the extra pounds you put on (i.e., Quarantine 15).

• If you just can’t let go of this habit, try on your jeans once a week to see that they still fit.

HABIT #2 (Break): No structure.

• Without a set routine, it’s been easy to miss meals, slough off home workouts, snack all day long, and even forget to take medications.

• The lack of structure resulted in many people aimlessly and haphazardly going through the day and accomplishing little. More time was spent watching TV, binging on social media, and/or playing video games.

• For some, the lack of structure also resulted in staying up late and getting less sound sleep.

HABIT #3 (Break): “Procrastibaking”.

• Procrastibaking became a pandemic pastime to feel better and satisfy food cravings. When anxious or stressed, it’s not uncommon to reactively crave “comfort foods”.

• Most popular procrastibaked goods: cookies, cakes, bread, and pasta — foods high in fat, sugar, and/or refined starches.

• Procrastibaking was an unconscious strategy to feel skilled and nurturing while being distracted from present-day working conditions.

HABIT #4 (Break): Drinking and smoking too much.

• Since the pandemic began, there’s been a 23% increase in alcohol consumption at home and a 19% increase in smoking.

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