We are finally returning to in-person classes, and I am very excited to be back on campus!
When everything first moved online, it took me a couple of months to adjust to the new normal. There were so many habits that I had to let go of, and new ones to adapt to, in order to adjust to remote learning. Not only did the experience of studying and working from home lead to plenty of lifestyle changes, it also created room for me to realize what improvements I could make to my lifestyle when returning to in-person classes.
There are five habits that I developed while studying and working from home that I realized had been missing in my pre-pandemic lifestyle, that I would love to carry on with me once I go back to in-person classes this fall. Those 5 habits are:
I struggled to fit a workout routine in my life pre-pandemic. In-person university life can be very uncertain; sometimes I would find myself waking up at 4 am to study, sometimes I would be falling asleep at 4 am after studying. Such uncertainty made it harder to find time to workout. Apart from failing to figure out a consistent workout schedule, I also struggled to find a perfect workout routine for myself that I actually enjoyed doing. During the pandemic I had time to focus on developing a workout routine. I did a lot of research, tried a bunch of different things, and finally found out that the best time for me to workout is first thing in the morning! My workout routine consists of 15-20 minutes of cardio and on-the-spot running. Something is better than nothing, so even working out for 15-20 minutes every morning makes me a little healthier. Even when I’m on campus, I plan to wake up 15-20 minutes before I need to be up, make use of my yoga mat, watch those YouTube videos and get going!
Studying and working from home made me more anxious and stressed than before, and I did not know how to fix it. The way that I found time for myself was through meditation. Just five minutes of meditation paired with my morning workout routine took me a long way! With this habit, I start my day feeling energized and on a positive note, and was usually able to accomplish my plans.
Eating healthy and reducing caffeine intake
When I was on campus, I would find myself eating from the food outlets almost every day. Things did not change in the beginning of the pandemic for me either, as I would just get takeout and still eat unhealthy food. I soon realized that I had to watch what I am putting on my plate.
The pandemic gave me some time to work on my cooking skills, and I learned to cook meals that didn’t take very long to prepare. I also changed my snacking habits by replacing chips, nachos, popcorn, and pop with mini carrots, dry fruits, apples, and juice. Reducing my caffeine intake was rather a difficult task as, like many students, I rely on coffee to stay active while studying. However, I passed that difficult phase by replacing my evening coffee with green tea, reducing my caffeine intake to only once in the morning. Developing the habit of eating healthy with a reduced caffeine intake has caused visible changes in my lifestyle! I feel very active, sleep better, maintain my body weight, and also save money by not buying junk food from outside. I plan to carry this habit to my on-campus life by packing homemade meals for lunch, snacks, and green tea sachets!
Staying in contact with my family
Studying from home was isolating for many of us, especially those who don’t live with their family. I realized during the pandemic that my family acts as a strong support system in tough times. Standing by one another does not solve a problem or cure anxiety and stress, however it does give me the courage and strength to deal with tough situations. The pandemic encouraged me to set aside fixed time to talk to my family in India two or three times a week, and it has been working really well for us! I plan to set aside the same amount of time for my family by talking to them every Tuesday and Saturday night once I go back to in-person classes.
Taking Screen Breaks
Studying online meant I was on a computer most of the time, and I learned that taking a break from screens is very important. Prolonged screen time can cause eye strain and screen fatigue. Even when we are on campus attending in-person classes, many of us take notes on our laptops or tablets, study on a computer, and use our phones for socializing. I read Christine’s piece on 3 Ways to Manage Frequent Screen Time and implemented the first and third strategies in the piece. Additionally, I took measures to limit social media usage, and took a break from social media. I used my learnings from the break to form strategies to limit my social media usage that I will continue to use going forward.