IN A BLINK OF AN EYE, OUR HOMES BECAME THE CENTER OF OUR PANDEMIC UNIVERSE: It was our work station, a place to hang out, a school. People coped with it in different ways. There were some who stuck to their routine: Set the alarm – wake up at 7am, take a shower, dress like a proper adult and get to work at their home office.
Then there are those who, like me, threw their routine out the window and began waking up 10 minutes before the workday starts, then started working in their PJs and used their lunch break to make breakfast from scratch.
Myra Fernando, a psychiatrist at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, says shelter-in-place and having our home as the center of our everyday activities was a game-changer. “In some ways it becomes isolating,” she says, “but in other ways people found new and different ways to connect with each other.”
Many others started new hobbies such as painting, hiking or simply had more time to rest and sleep. These activities may not fit with their schedules once California fully reopens on June 15, and people will have to make decisions and modify their pandemic routines if they want to pursue them post-pandemic – especially workers who are sleeping more because they don’t have to wake up early without a commute or the need to put on shoes.
According to studies published in the journal Current Biology, people are sleeping an average of one hour more during the pandemic – “which is a huge amount of extra sleep,” says Richard Kanak, medical director of Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula’s Sleep Disorders Center.
Conversely, those who lost their jobs or are juggling work, homeschooling and taking care of their kids are not sleeping enough, and once they get back into their normal routines they could get the rest they need. Lack of sleep is the number-one sleeping problem in America and there is a risk, Kanak says, many will go back to their previous habits and again start suffering sleep deprivation if they don’t create a new routine to fit in seven to nine hours of sleep.
The same set of contradictions holds for fitness – some people gained the “quarantine fifteen,” others found more free time to develop an exercise routine. As gyms are reopening, Ashley Rappa-Rodriguz fitness manager and trainer at Anytime Fitness in Marina, says there’s an influx of new people signing up.
She says many missed the gym experience: being active, lifting weights, having an accountability group. She recommends people restart their exercise routines slowly. “We don’t want them to jump in,” she says, to avoid possible injuries. “Gradually start increasing your weights and the time within the gym.”
Consistency and patience, Rappa-Rodriguez, says are key to achieve results since they won’t show overnight. Getting a trainer, being in a structured program, and training three to four days per week is what she recommends as a start.
Similarly, other routines may also phase in over time as we keep certain elements of our shelter-in-place lives and discard others. Some will go back to work in person, others will not, but despite the different approaches people will have to make adjustments.
“People are excited about that but also anxious about how they readjust to life after the pandemic,” Fernando says.
People have to be realistic about the changes, she adds, “assessing how you’re going to continue with those things that enriched your life” – the extra time for crafting, baking or gardening.
Little steps, like taking a break or having flexibility, are important aspects to consider in order to have a smoother transition to their “new normal,” Fernando says.