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For many of us, COVID-19 has meant big change. But not all of that change has been bad. Many people have discovered more time for things they didn’t prioritise before. Queenslanders are reporting a better connection with family and friends, that they are starting new hobbies and getting more exercise.

So, what healthy habits have Queenslanders embraced during the pandemic and what good behaviours should we keep up?

1. Spending time in nature

Many of us have enjoyed more time in the great outdoors. Whether it’s gardening, or taking the kids out exploring your local greenspaces, time in nature is great for you. So, if you’re returning to the workplace, consider a lunchtime stroll through the park or take your meetings outside.

2. Getting physical

Luckily, the cliché that everyone has spent the pandemic on the couch is not true. Many of us have actually increased how often we exercise. If you’re worried about finding time for exercise, look for ways to schedule exercise into your daily routine. It could be replacing your commute with a bike ride, doing yoga on your lunch break, or going for a walk after work. If these don’t suit, there’s a range of exercise resources here to help you find your fit.

3. Being kind

At the start of the pandemic, more than 21,000 people joined Queensland’s Care Army in just 10 days. Teddy bears appeared in front yards to entertain passing kids. And anecdotal evidence suggests people in parks started saying hello more often. This isn’t just great for the community; being kind is really good for you too. Being kind releases a chemical called oxytocin that stimulates your brain and makes you feel good. Studies have shown that being kind can boost your happiness more than the person you’re helping. So, make sure you keep up the kindness.

4. Challenging yourself

When gyms, clubs, and restaurants shut, many of us suddenly realised we had more downtime. Many took this opportunity to learn new skills, refresh old ones, or tackle new challenges. And this is good for us. As Queensland’s Chief Psychiatrist, Dr John Reilly says “By challenging yourself, you improve the effectiveness of your mental pathways, and refresh old or unhelpful thought patterns.”

If you’ve found something you enjoy doing during the pandemic, make sure you keep it up.

5. Connecting more

Time together has meant that many of us have found a deeper connection with those we live with, such as housemates, partners, or family. When the future looks uncertain, it’s natural to talk more and show more vulnerability, which is good for building relationships. Queensland’s Chief Psychiatrist, Dr. John Reilly agrees. “Simple things like the way we greet each other are likely to change, but more impactful changes like the way we connect with each other on a deeper, more authentic level are likely to come out of the pandemic.”

This doesn’t have to be restricted to face-to-face relationships either. Queenslanders have embraced video calls and other high-tech ways to communicate. Regardless of how you connect, healthy relationships are good for our mental wellbeing, so don’t let the connections you’ve built up slip.

6. Being adaptable

While change can be challenging, it does have a silver lining – it teaches our body and mind to combat stress. While resilience naturally develops, you can help it along. How? By thinking positively and consciously challenging negative thoughts if they cross your mind.

A lot of people have compared current times with World War II, the Spanish flu, and the Depression. Living through those times made people stronger, more resilient, and open to new ways of living, and psychologists believe that the coronavirus pandemic could do the very same thing.