12 Coping Skills You've Discovered In The Last Year That Can Sustain You For Life

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woman with short brown hair coping with stress by sitting in the sun

There's considerable research in psychology to suggest that after a trauma, you can come back stronger and more resilient than before.

Tragedy can prompt the development of new coping skills.

This can be the case with the Coronavirus pandemic. The difficult times called for new habits in order to keep yourself, your family, and your mental health safe.

Have you developed any new and positive habits during Covid? You can decide to keep these new behaviors as you move through 2021 and beyond.

The virus didn't vanish on January 1, but as society edges closer to relief, deciding on your intentions post-pandemic will help you maintain those healthy coping strategies and routines.

RELATED: 3 Ways Clear Communication Diffuses Post-Pandemic Social Anxiety

Here are 12 examples of some coping skills you may have developed and should definitely keep doing.

1. You exercise and go outside more.

A combination of not having much to do and wanting to get out of the house yielded a huge crop of new walkers, runners, and cyclists.

Like the seesaw diet, it could be a situation where once things return to their new normal, you ditch your new habits. It doesn't have to be that way.

Once you've established the habit, recognize that, as life changes, you may have to tweak the schedule or location.

Remember, the habit change made you feel better. In the future, with no pandemic, it will still make you feel better, as long as you keep doing it. 

2. You're into home cooking.

Restaurants were out of the question. Now, they’re open in some places, closed in others, and iffy at best. Reducing exposure to people has resulted in a lot more cooking at home.

Boredom has led to trying new styles of cooking (like finally using that air fryer Aunt Sally gave you) and new recipes. Some have made it a family activity.

Voila! More new habits in the making.

It’s not that we shouldn’t support our local restaurants and shouldn’t return when they re-open, but for many, continuing to cook at home, at least some of the time, is healthier, cheaper, and maybe more fun.

3. You learned to connect in different ways.

Never before have there been so many virtual drinks, yoga classes, and calls to family. Who thought you'd be visiting grandma in the empty parking lot of a strip mall?

You are reminded of people because of worry ("Are they staying safe?") or because you recognize that life can, indeed, be short, so you reach out more.

You can tell when people are thrilled with your call and happy to have you in a virtual group get-together. They'll feel the same way, post-COVID. Relatives, friends, and colleagues will appreciate you reaching out.

And in thanking all those health care workers in all sorts of awesome ways, keep it up after the pandemic. Their work is always challenging and even small gestures of appreciation help.

Expressing gratitude can also make you feel better.

4. You are less concerned about appearances.

Maybe you would not normally meet up without makeup and a carefully vetted outfit. But, now you're Facetiming in your jammies, maybe having washed up a bit first... or not.

Sometimes, you may be propped up in bed, since the bedroom may be the only private place in your home.

If you do have to don work attire, it's only from the waist up. Or maybe you have a nicer shirt on a chairback for a quick Zoom call or lip gloss handy as a vague nod to appearances.

Continuing to be less worried about how you look and more focused on how you act is a positive post-pandemic intention.

5. You work effectively from home.

While there are those who cannot (those pesky kids can interfere), you may be one of the many who work well from home.

There's evidence that people are happier working from home because they avoid traffic, concentrate better, can do a little needed parenting, have fewer interruptions, and benefit from the flexibility of working when it suits them.

Less traffic is good for the planet. There are always going to be exceptions, but overall, this appears to be for the greater good. Can you negotiate to continue remote work post-pandemic?

6. Some kids learn better remotely.

Speaking of those pesky kids, some respond well to the virtual classroom. You may notice that's the case with your child.

There were virtual learning options before the pandemic and there will be more after. Consider maintaining what works best for your kids post-pandemic. If they're happier, you're happier.

RELATED: 6 Helpful Tips For Heading Back To Work (With Actual Human Beings!)

7. You give more and check in on your neighbors.

We're giving money, time, and supplies to those in need, something that always happens in times of disaster. If you have it to give, why not keep donating when the pandemic ends? Giving to others improves your well-being.

You might also be checking on and talking to neighbors a lot more. Even if they don’t need anything, it’s nice to know someone’s concerned about your welfare.

A friendly chat is enough to brighten someone's day.

8. You stopped shaking hands.

More handwashing and less hugging kissing and shaking hands are all good. There are many places in the world where people don’t shake, hug or kiss in greeting. Why not us, too?

Teaching kids to do this is another win. Here's hoping the cuddle party is a thing of the past. Why not maintain this communal effort toward health?

9. You wear masks.

People in many Asian countries have been wearing masks for years when they’re sick. It’s deemed the considerate thing to do.

You might have gone to the store or to work while feeling ill, exposing others to your germs. Would it be too much to ask you to wear a mask to keep everyone else healthy? If it's too much, please stay home.

10. You can wake up and smell the coffee.

Whether it's due to a reduced commute, a furlough, or having another warm body at home, you may have had more time to get stuff done.

One of the benefits of having a little — or a lot — more time is that you can take your time. You may find yourself noticing things you’ve missed before or spending a little more time in quiet conversation, maybe even with your teenager who wouldn't previously give you the time of day.

Perhaps, you've had a little more contemplative time — time to think freely. Maybe the urge to pick up an old or new hobby has struck.

Keep being more observant, thoughtful, and mindful in 2021 and keep up those hobbies — everyone you love will thank you.

11. No worries about your resting b*tch face.

There’s no one to peek into your office, cubicle, or to pass you in the hall saying, "Why so sad?" or "Cheer up!"

You can work in peace with your RBF intact. It can be difficult to see facial expressions on Zoom, so you’re a bit safer there as well.

Most of the time, you've been wandering around the house in PJs and your RBF. When you're out with your mask on, nobody knows.

Your RBF is here to stay, so if you've been feeling more peace about it, keep breathing into that space post-pandemic.

12. You may be coping with some things better.

With awareness of the economic, health, and social issues facing the country, you may find you're not getting as caught up in things you used to worry about.

Things like what everyone thinks of you and whether you're good enough may have taken a back seat to pandemic-related concerns.

While too much news is not helpful, healthy concern for the state of the country and the world can take you outside of yourself and your idiosyncratic worries. This is a healthy change you will want to hang onto.

Experiencing post-traumatic growth often means you find strengths you never knew you had, recognize some of your interests are more important than you thought, and move forward in life with an outlook that's a little different.

Maybe you feel more gratitude, you're more in touch with your spirituality or you feel greater concern for the welfare of others.

See if you can take what's good from this wild ride of Covid and continue using it moving forward in 2021 and beyond. You'll be stronger, healthier, and more resilient if you do.

RELATED: I'll Never Parent The Same Way After This Pandemic Is Over

Judith Tutin, PhD, ACC, is a licensed psychologist and certified life coach. Connect with her on her website where you can request a free coaching call to bring more passion, fun, and wellness to your life.

This article was originally published at Medium. Reprinted with permission from the author.