How Long Will Our COVID-19 Habits Last?

    covid habits

    Let’s face it. When the clock struck midnight and brought us 2021, some of us (if not all) hoped COVID-19 would end with the new year. Yet the virus has only made itself more comfortable, leaving us with no choice but to perfect our quarantine habits: constant hand washing, face masks, the overstated “six feet apart.” By now, everyone seems to be their own experts when it comes to the pandemic. But how long will these good-hygiene guidelines last us? And what can we expect for the future? It seems only to be a matter of time before we turn back to our old bad habits, where, time prohibiting, we’ll forget about the pandemic altogether.

    The Skeptics

    First, we must address the fact that, even amongst a global pandemic, there are plenty of people who still, 10 months later, aren’t following the rules. Republican Congressman-Elect Bob Good described the pandemic as “phony” at a Trump support rally in Virginia, to which much of the audience cheered and applauded. How can we possibly expect citizens to follow the right protocol if our nation’s leaders are denouncing the virus as fake? Others boycotted the pandemic by refusing to wear masks and attending large gatherings despite the risk. Though many of us have been practicing these habits for months, some still refuse to take them seriously, putting a big dent in our progress. With this in mind, it’s only time before we too leave these habits behind and turn back to our old ways.

    The Break Down of Habits

    While it only takes 30 straight days to form a habit, it takes about ten weeks to break one. Additionally, habits are normally created and sustained in stable situations (ie: quarantine) and normally break with the coming of any life-changing event. Technically speaking, we have statistics on our side in that it takes much longer to break a habit than form one. But not everyone likes to play by the rules. What may be a habit for one person may not even be a second thought for the other. Though most of us have been following guidelines since March of 2020, there are plenty of people who have thrown caution to the wind before making it through 30 days of practice. 

    Habits Change Over Time

    Though not confirmed, we can infer that it won’t take long after the pandemic for our good habits to fade. Some may consider themselves full-fledged experts on hand sanitizer, but as time moves on, so will our own behavior. As humans, we tend to adapt with the changes and conditions that life throws at us, which is what helps us overcome stressful situations. Therefore, while these habits may be helpful for us now, they will only grow more excessive as the pandemic slows to a halt.  

    History Repeats Itself

    Look at it this way: as the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 spread across the world, people did whatever they could to limit the spread and keep it from entering their homes. Much like today, they adopted tactics to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. Month after month, people remained wary of their surroundings, going out only when absolutely necessary. However, once it was officially under control and no longer a threat, rule books were tossed out the window and people were relieved that the dark cloud of 1918 was lifted. It only made sense for the next following years to be nicknamed the “roaring 20s”, as people attended lavish parties and gatherings to celebrate the beginning of a better future. The great boom of business and overall positivity only added to a new, energetic atmosphere of opportunity and freedom. Are we sensing a pattern?

    If we decide to follow the behavior of the 1920s, we can conclude that life after the pandemic will not stay as solemn as life at its peak. Even now, people complain about the limitations COVID brought us, missing our friends, going to concerts, and enjoying how life used to be. It’s a known fact that we, as human beings, hate sitting still, so what makes us think a pandemic can stop us?

    Old Habits Die Hard

    It is sad to say that our newfound, healthy habits may not last following the pandemic. Many, including myself, enjoy the frequent hand-washing and extra time with family. However, like anything, once we find ourselves doing more work than necessary (like wiping down groceries), those habits are quickly kicked out the door. It’s likely to say that people will be too excited to toss their masks and wipes once the pandemic is over to stay cautious. So grab your flapper dress and bring your most expensive pair of shoes, because it’ll be time to celebrate again before you know it.

    Photo by Kate Trifo on Unsplash

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