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The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that we have been living our lives this year. Time Magazine has declared 2020 to be "The Worst Year Ever". Much of the world has moved to live life mostly indoors as social distancing has affected everyone to some degree.
This has dynamically affected the way we live and navigate the world. Simply put, life at home is different. Our increased time at home has physically separated us from the people in the external environments we used to interact in.
And that has been difficult for everyone.
Here are the ways in which the pandemic has impacted our lifestyle activities this year.
One of the main facets of life that have been impacted by the virus is the way in which we socialize. We have had to create distance between us all in ways never before seen to protect the most vulnerable in our society from the virus.
Social distancing measures have required us to maintain at least a 6-feet distance between each other and avoid crowded spaces. We have also been recommended or mandated to shelter-in-place, avoiding others outside of our immediate household to prevent community spread.
Staying at home with just our immediate family for company has become commonplace, for better or worse. We have been forced to form "bubbles" of people that we interact with in order to keep ourselves safe.
Not everyone has been following safety precautions. So we've had to limit ourselves to people who have been masking and following social-distancing measures to ensure we (and by extension the people we live with) aren't exposed.
Generally speaking, in best-practice we've had to give up socializing in the traditional sense. People are not used to being able to see their friends and loved ones, and being cooped up inside all day has taken its toll on many.
Many friendships have had to become long-distance--weekly Sunday brunches and nights on the town have had to stop or go virtual. Birthday parties and weddings have been online, or have been live-streamed. Our biggest social events have been altered or put on hold in the name of safety.
It's easy to say that the simple act of socializing has changed more than we ever expected it to, and has done so necessarily. Quarantining at home has become commonplace, and it has directly impacted our lives in an objectively negative way.
People are lonelier than ever and are missing out on opportunities and life events. The virus has put us at a standstill and kept us in our homes for the foreseeable future.
Most recently, the COVID-19 Pandemic has changed how we celebrate holidays. The holidays celebrated in the fall and winter months like Thanksgiving, Hanukka, and Christmas have had to come second to protecting the health of our loved ones.
Many people have had to forgo the trips to relatives' homes for the holidays and have smaller affairs within their household bubble rather than risk infecting Grandma and Grandpa. Holidays have been a huge sacrifice for much of the population, and are a symbol of social sacrifices we've had to make for public health.
Our collective mental health has taken a major hit during the pandemic. And our physical health has been more important than ever.
The stress of the pandemic itself has been impacting mental health. The amount of fear, worry, and stress in people's lives has increased dramatically. The many disruptions to our lives have also increased these negative feelings.
53% of American adults reported that their mental health has been negatively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Reports of social isolation and loneliness have skyrocketed due to the stay-at-home orders and quarantine.
This is impacting people of all ages but seems to have a greater effect on younger people. They are more likely to be suffering from job insecurity, and financial or educational stressors on top of everything else.
This period is likely the largest mental health crisis in global history, and it has dire consequences. Mental health is nothing to play with, and it's important that those who are affected seek help or practice healthy coping mechanisms.
Although many people like to stay health-conscious in general, many have been emphasizing the importance of physical health during the pandemic.
Despite many gyms shutting down due to COVID related health and sanitation reasons, people have been trying to stay fit. And for good reason.
Research shows that regular exercise boosts the immune system, and keeps your body healthier and in a better position to fight off infections. It also is a great way to help relieve stress and anxiety--which has been mounting for many adults in the face of COVID-19.
Exercise is a very healthy coping method. It facilitates wellness and can also be a great and safe way to get outside of the house to get some fresh air.
The way we perceive our own health has also been impacted by COVID.
A great number of people have also been delaying diagnoses in response to the fear of catching COVID in a doctor's office or worry of overwhelming the healthcare system. What people consider "non-essential" health concerns are being pushed to the side.
This has had quite sad results. Emergency medical services have reported an all-time high of cardiac arrests, as people are waiting to seek medical attention for heart issues. There has also been a large increase in on-scene death pronouncements in hospitals.
Forging the doctors is not a great idea despite the strain on the medical field. When possible, many have turned to virtual visits to address any health concerns they have.
The pandemic has changed the way that we eat in more ways than one. Be it the way we cook our food, where we shop, or how we eat out, things are definitely different than last year.
In terms of eating at home, Americans have begun spending more money at the supermarket than eating out for the first time in a generation. In an effort to stay-at-home and in response to our changing relationship with restaurants, people have begun cooking at home.
A poll by HUNTER found that 54% of consumers reported that they have been cooking at home more due to COVID. For half of these people, they say that they find cooking relaxing, implying that it cooking and baking more have helped them cope with the stressors of staying at home.
And the complexity of that cooking has also increased. We all know someone who now keeps sourdough starter on their windowsill and has turned their kitchen into a semi-professional boulangerie.
Many have found joy in cooking during their new life at home. People have made efforts to eat both smarter and healthier and have shaped the way they buy food around these new trends.
Trips to the grocery store have now become reprieves from the monotony of home life.
Shoppers are making longer lists and going to the grocery store less often. Many people who once shopped for groceries daily, picking what they needed for dinner that day, have moved to semi-long term meal planning.
Online grocery shopping has also been on the rise, with companies like Amazon Fresh (Amazon's grocery delivery service) Instacart, and Walmart making more and more items available and increasing their workforces.
Curbside pickup of groceries ordered online has also threatened to overtake in-store grocery shopping as people avoid high traffic stores.
The restaurant industry has taken a hit as a result of how the pandemic has affected our eating out habits. Due to people both wanting to save money and the stay-at-home safety measures, people have been eating out less. Many restaurants have reduced their capacity or entirely closed in-door dining due to restrictions.
The summer made it easy for restaurants to move their indoor dining outside, but with winter coming in full swing, many restaurants have had to move to takeout only. This doesn't bode well for businesses, or consumers, really, but it is yet another sacrifice we've had to make.
Eating indoors is considered to be one of the riskiest things that you can do during the pandemic. Even if there is social distancing, in most cases it is not enough to prevent the spread of the virus.
Eating and cooking at home has simply become another facet of home life that we have had to adapt to.
For some, water-cooler chats seem to have become a relic of days gone by. For others, they have had to risk their lives to bring home enough money to pay rent. And for another group, many have lost their jobs and are struggling to find new work because of the pandemic.
Workplaces are often high-contact areas and have the great potential to be areas for COVID-19 to spread. As a result, when possible, many workplaces have decided to implement work-from-home policies. An estimated 42% of the national workforce is now working from home.
Meetings have moved from the conference room to Zoom, and people are discovering that most of what was accomplished in the office can be accomplished from home. And sometimes with far more efficiency.
However, it is important to note that balancing life at home with a workday in the house has been a challenge for some. With kids in school in one room, and a partner at work in another, it can be difficult to keep it all together. But with a little compromise and lifestyle rearranging, working from home can be a good experience.
Another 26% of the population, however, has continued to work on their business premises. This number is mostly comprised of essential workers, like healthcare professionals, grocery store employees, and food service workers.
They have had to continue to put their lives at risk to keep the economy going in roles that cannot transition to remote work. We rely on them to keep the world moving during these unprecedented times.
It is thanks to them that many of us are able to work from the safety of our homes.
Unfortunately, the social safety net has not been enough to support those struggling during the pandemic. An estimated 8 million Americans have slipped into poverty during the pandemic, and the government has done little to intervene.
The way we shop has been one of the most drastic ways in which our lives have changed due to the pandemic.
Many shops have reduced hours, reduced capacity, and reduced offerings. Many places have even closed temporarily (or permanently due to financial troubles). People are less willing to go into a physical store due to the risk of being infected in public spaces.
In an effort to stay at home, many have turned to online shopping as an alternative. The pandemic has accelerated the shift to a digital world. Across age demographics, the rates of online shopping have increased since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Online retailers such as Amazon have greatly benefited from this uptick in online shopping. In the month of May alone, e-commerce sales nearly doubled from the previous month.
The convenience of online shopping likely means that these trends will not be reversed even after the pandemic ends.
Despite the growth in online shopping, people are actually shopping less overall. Financial strains have caused people to consider where their funds are going, with people spending less. Consumer spending has fluctuated throughout this year but has fallen overall to -3.8% of what it was a year ago.
One of the major ways in which home life has changed is in education. For families with children, life has been majorly disrupted by the move to online school.
The greatest impact has arguably fallen upon those with younger children, who often need support from family members during online learning. Almost 93% of families with school-age children have had to engage in some kind of distance learning during the pandemic.
Districts have been swapping between in-person, virtual, and hybrid models as they try to find what works best for students and families. And because of this, students are falling behind. Parents and older siblings have had to take on the role of in-home tutor to help younger students keep up, often at the expense of their own work or school time.
It can be extremely difficult to balance your children's education with your own needs and responsibilities, but people have had to learn how to find a good balance.
Getting children back into school has been one of the priorities during this pandemic.
Families with college-aged students have also been impacted by the pandemic.
Colleges are hot-spots for the spread of COVID-19 due to the close quarters of dorms and college parties. Back in March when the virus began to spread in earnest, many universities and colleges sent their students home for the rest of the semester.
A number of colleges simply told their students not to come back to school from Spring Break. And many students have been at home ever since.
Although some schools went back to in-person teaching at the start of the fall semester, a majority of college-aged students have been learning online from their childhood bedrooms.
And while university students can manage better than younger students, the move to online learning has also impacted them. Many are struggling to meet the demands of professors who are being less than understanding or are dealing with issues at the home they have been forced to move back into.
Life at home has had a great impact on the education system, and will likely have repercussions even after the pandemic ends.
The way we entertain ourselves has also had to change during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the most popular forms of entertainment are considered to be high-risk places for the spread of COVID. As such, many were the first to be hit by restrictions.
Sporting events, bars and clubs, movie theaters, and museums all have been restricted or even closed due to the virus, and for good reason. COVID spreads far more easily in crowds, and to protect everyone, alternate forms of entertainment have had to take precedent for the time being.
People have had to look for safer forms of entertainment either outdoors or in the comfort of their own homes. And with work from home, people have found they have more free time than ever. It's just that they might not know exactly what to do with this time.
Many people have taken up new hobbies in an effort to keep themselves entertained and to take their minds off of the stress caused by the pandemic. Watching TV and movies, reading, and working out are some of the most popular hobbies that people have picked up. Video games and arts and crafts have also seen a surge in popularity.
Although a number of entertainment venues have remained open during the pandemic, people for the most part have been doing their best to remain in their homes. However after so many months, fatigue has begun to set in, and the recent spikes in COVID cases can be attributed to this.
The pandemic has changed the way that we all live. But with the recent developments with the vaccine, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Despite this, the expected release schedule of the vaccine means that we will likely have to continue with the changes and sacrifices we have made during the COVID-19 pandemic for a little while longer.
It is more important than ever to take note of these changes, accept them, and then do our best to deal with them in healthy ways. Our wellness at home is what will help us make it through these trying times.
Read our full series on the pandemic so that we all may continue to live a happier and healthier life while staying at home.
Jay Todtenbier is an original founder of SupplementRelief.com in 2010 and has operated the business ever since. He is also a tennis instructor and gospel musician. Formerly he spent 25 years in business development, technology and marketing with startups and major corporations having gone through the tech boom in Silicon Valley in the 90s. He became passionate about, and began studying and practicing Wellness as a Lifestyle after experiencing chronic, personal health challenges including depression, auto-immune disorders, and being overweight that impacted his ability to live a healthy, vibrant life. Since then, he has been an advocate for healthier living encouraging others to live better through making small, gradual changes to lifestyle behaviors relating to whole-foods nutrition, stress management, reasonable exercise, proper sleep, and the use of targeted, high-quality supplements.
Learn more about Jay Todtenbier.
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