The coronavirus has consumed our lives for some time now. Previously niche terms such as “social distancing” and “self-quarantine” are now commonplace. People have become more aware of how germs are spread and are taking extra precautions to keep themselves and their loved ones healthy.
Social distancing and self-quarantine restrictions have been placed on many citizens. It is believed that by putting these restrictions into place, we will be able to curb the rapid spread of COVID-19.
These new restrictions are changing the way we go about our lives. Going out to dinner is not a possibility right now for most people, as restaurants are closed for dine-in. Grocery shopping hasn’t been as easy as it used to be due to constraints on how much food you can buy at once, in response to people buying everything on the shelves.
With large changes like this, we are having to shift away from our normal habits and adapt to the current climate. Not all of these new habits are going to stay around once the panic of the coronavirus dissipates. We are going to go back to eating out, visiting our favorite bar with friends, going to see live sports, and attending other large events.
Not everyone will have witnessed the same changes as everyone else. Our experiences have differed vastly based on our location. But I think that the following are several new habits that have come out of this crisis that might be worth hanging onto when this all finally blows over.
1. Extreme Handwashing & Germ Control
For some reason, it took this virus spreading across the world for many people to realize that the most common way that germs get off of surfaces and into our body is via our hands.
If you have come in contact with germs, the best way to get them off of you is to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and warm water, according to the CDC. Since it is such an important habit, it is good to see people realizing that handwashing plays a major role in keeping ourselves healthy, no matter what season it is or what cold is going around.
2. Stop Touching It
We are now all aware that touching your face while out in public is a serious germ-spreading no-no. Some of the easiest access points for germs to get into your body are your eyes, nose, ears, and mouth.
Unfortunately, most people touch their faces a lot, even when in public. According to the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology (APIC), the average person touches their face about 23 times per hour.
Those are all opportunities for germs that your hands may have picked up—say, from a surface that a sick person just touched—to make it into your body. This transmission isn’t just for the coronavirus. This is how the flu spreads so easily and why some people are always getting a cold.
So, in order to stay healthy through every season, we should remain extra vigilant going forward and avoid touching our faces. If you are looking to break the face-touching habit, or any small habit for that matter, you can check out this article for some habit-breaking techniques.
3. Keep It Clean
While scrambling to find toilet paper over the last few weeks was almost impossible in some areas, finding cleaning supplies was equally difficult. With homes and businesses looking to disinfect every surface, supplies started to run dry.
I have noticed that businesses have become more attentive to which surfaces customers are touching and how often they clean. Customers are disinfecting carts before using them. I have even noticed some vendors wiping down pens after customers borrow them.
While the latter may be a little extreme, it is definitely an indicator that we are more germ-conscious than we have been in the past, and that is a good thing.
I don’t think that anybody would hope that the panic-induced buying of all paper and cleaning supplies will hang around any longer than it already has. We may be able to agree though, that having everyone out there paying more attention to the cleanliness of their surroundings is probably a good thing.
4. Cover Up
No, I’m not talking about wearing surgical masks and gloves in public. We’re talking about covering your face when your sneeze or cough.
Many of you are looking at me like I am crazy, thinking that is just common sense. Well, walk through any public place (once it’s allowed), especially airports, and watch people who are coughing and sneezing, and you will be just as appalled as me.
People who don’t cover up are not hard to find, but it’s not like there are people just running around actively sneezing on each other. What is easier to find are people covering their coughs or sneezes with their hands. Unless you are standing in front of a sink with hot water running, or in the comfort of your own home, you shouldn’t be covering up with your hands. Use a tissue or the upper part of your sleeve instead.
Covering a sneeze or cough is great for stopping the germs from misting into your surroundings. But if you use your hands, instead of going out into the atmosphere, the germs are now on your fingers. They are now primed for attaching themselves to the next surfaces that you touch. Whether it’s a doorknob, countertop, or a can of soup you wanted to read the nutritional facts on, you can rest assured that the next person who comes in contact with that surface is picking up what you put down.
All you can do is touch fewer things and hope that others are practicing good hand washing.
5. Physical Distancing
For some of us, “social distancing” is not a new concept. We are called introverts, and generally enjoy the bulk of our time spent in solidarity or around very few people. For us, social distancing protocols may have had very little effect on our lives.
As for those of you who are extra outgoing and prefer being in the middle of a big crowd, you are probably not liking this situation at all.
I do have a slight problem with the term though, especially in our modern world. “Social distancing” is meant to prevent people from spreading germs around by keeping us apart.
A better name for it is physical distancing. It is the physical contact with germs that gets us sick, not simply being social.
Physical distancing is the act of giving people their personal space. It means that you aren’t standing so close to someone that they can not only smell what you had for lunch, they can easily catch the “allergies” you’ve been “fighting” for three weeks.
None of that seems good for you social butterflies out there. But don’t fret. There are many people who, both in their personal and business lives, have been taking their social situations online.
Holding virtual meetups, such as a happy hour, is a great way for people to maintain their sense of community and friendship while still practicing physical distancing.
This may just be me, but the idea of us keeping some physical distancing around after this whole thing blows over sounds good. I enjoy being able to walk around without someone breathing down my neck. I like not having to sit next to someone who hasn’t showered since Obama was president.
Having people continue to practice physical distancing means more room at your favorite stores to walk around. It means less waiting in lines when you do decide to go out. It means fewer cars on the road and fewer emissions from those cars.
Now if we can only figure out a way to keep physical distancing while still attending our favorite sporting events or concerts…
6. Remote Work
Companies have had to adapt to their employees remaining at home. In order for companies to continue to make money throughout this, they have had to scramble to come up with ways to manage workers remotely.
Fortunately for a lot of businesses, remote working has become more and more prevalent in recent years. There are already many apps out there designed to help businesses track and manage their employees during physical distancing.
Yet many people are longing for those face-to-face interactions that they can only get in the office.
To counter that problem, businesses are even moving meetings to a more digital arena.
Companies are able to hold effective—arguably even more so than in-person—meetings with as many employees as they need. They are able to hold small team meetings or larger conference calls from the comfort of their couch.
What remains to be seen is how back to “normal” we will get once the mandate of social distancing has been lifted.
I believe that many businesses are going to remain heavily digital after this all blows over, especially those that have not seen a major decrease in production. People are coming to realize how antiquated working in an office space is in our digital world.
With people working from home, businesses are going to realize some unexpected savings. Not having to power a large office space, keep its temperature regulated, or maintain cleanliness will cut down on overhead costs.
There are some social advantages to working in a shared space, but often, people working remotely experience an increase in productivity and happiness.
With a slew of businesses shutting their doors, people have found themselves needing to find new ways to accomplish the things they have grown accustomed to having other people take care of.
We are having to make more meals at home due to being quarantined. Some are having to learn to do minor repairs to their homes, as contractors are practicing distancing and less likely to make house calls.
People taking back control of some of their most basic needs is an excellent thing for society. Being able to stop a leaky faucet because there isn’t someone else to do it for you or cook a healthy meal that will be great leftovers for lunch the next day are great skills to have.
I am not saying that we have to revert to the Stone Age and hunt for our meals. I am not saying that you are going to have to learn how to fix your own roof. I’m especially not saying that once this all clears up I’m not going to be the first one to go get me some sushi.
I just think that we can all learn that when it comes down to it, you have to be able to take care of yourself and your loved ones. If you have the skills and know-how to take care of those around you, you are that much better off during these times.
8. Bye Bye Bar Food
OK, this is a small blip on the coronavirus radar—but common. Have you ever seen a bowl of peanuts, pretzels, or popcorn lying on a table at a restaurant or on a bar?
Think about all of the people that have come before you, taken a bite, licked their fingers, and then stuck their hand in the bowl for more. You have just kissed them.
The biggest problem is, when you find yourself sitting in front of a bowl of salty, delicious snacks, you can’t help but want some. Inevitably, you are somewhere that has offered you a drink, but you don’t have any food yet.
For the health of all of us out there that can’t resist a bowl of germ-infested pretzels, please stop this habit.
It is unclear how society will be when this is all said and done. At this point, it is hard to imagine what life is going to be like next week, let alone six months from now. All we can do is keep making positive changes in our lives that prevent or disrupt the spread of viruses and other diseases.
What habits do you plan to continue after quarantine?
Tell us your thoughts in the comments below.