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Keeping up healthy habits in the ‘new normal’

Tuesday 11 August 2020

A dad helps his daughter was her hands.
You were probably taught to wash your hands often as a child, but it's just as important to keep up this habit as an adult.

This article was written during the Queensland response to the COVID-19 pandemic and reflects the information available at the date of publication. Please check the Australian Department of Health COVID-19 webpage for updated information and current health advice regarding COVID-19 and vaccinations in Queensland.

The COVID-19 pandemic has helped Queenslanders understand more about viruses than ever before. We’ve learnt how they spread and infect, and how we can keep ourselves and those around us safe and healthy.

Doing things like keeping our distance, covering coughs and sneezes, and washing our hands regularly has protected us from COVID-19. These aren’t new actions. We already use these the same actions to protect ourselves from other viruses like the common cold and the flu. But most of us now have a better understanding about why we should be doing them properly and more often.

And while some of these things may have seemed like a big adjustment, they can – and should – be carried on throughout the years to come. This will make sure we can be the healthiest versions of ourselves all the time, not only during a pandemic. As we ensure these health measures are done more regularly, we could say that this is now our ‘new normal’.

What health advice have we learnt from COVID-19 and how can we continue to apply it in the ‘new normal’?

Throughout the pandemic, many of us have changed the way we think about hygiene and making sure we do everything possible to stay safe and healthy. The things we learnt when we were young and are common sense to us now have all been reinforced during the pandemic. This includes washing our hands after going to the bathroom or before eating at the dinner table.

Various illnesses can spread when someone who is sick coughs or sneezes on you, or they touch a surface and you touch it shortly after, like a doorknob, phone or handrail.

To reduce your chance of getting any kind of sickness you should keep up these great habits:

  • regularly wash or sanitise your hands, especially before and after eating (where possible, you should carry hand sanitiser with you when you leave the house)
  • try to avoid touching your face as much as possible – this is how some viruses enter the body 
  • stay home if you’re feeling sick and get tested
  • cover your coughs and sneezes with a tissue or your elbow, but make sure you throw the tissue in a bin straight away
  • avoid hugging, kissing or shaking hands with someone if you or they are not feeling well
  • clean busy areas in your home if someone isn’t feeling well (you can find some tips and tricks for cleaning high-traffic areas on the Queensland Health website)
  • try and keep two big steps away from other people as much as possible.

It is also important to also remember all the things we knew before the pandemic are still true now, and we should keep them in mind in the weeks, months and years to come. These are thing like:

  • it will always be safe to visit your doctor or hospital for medical appointments
  • it is okay to ask for help if you need it – we have some great mental wellbeing resources on our website, like our Dear Mind campaign
  • health appointments may continue to be available in different forms from different service providers, including appointments over-the-phone, video calls from your GP and getting your prescriptions online
  • getting moving is great for your mental and physical wellbeing (check out the Healthy at Home website for some great exercise tips and recipe ideas for a healthy mind and a happy body).

A lady does yoga at home, watched by her dog.

Practical tips for living in the ‘new normal’

The ‘new normal’ has become our new way of living with the continuous risk of a COVID-19 outbreak. In the new normal, we need to remember behaviours we’ve learnt to make sure we’re healthy and safe into the future. Living this new normal life helps to stop the spread of COVID-19 and the spread of other germs and illnesses.

Below are some practical tips for you and your loved ones to help you get the hang of living in the new normal world. This will help to keep you safe and healthy now and into the future.

You should:

  • continue to check in on your friends and family near and far, through video chats and phone calls 
  • check out this alternative handshake video which will help you when you go to greet people
  • remember to keep up your hand hygiene by washing or sanitising your hands as often as possible
  • get into the habit of washing your fresh produce (fruits and vegetables) before eating or cooking
  • make sure to keep some space between yourself and other people while out and about – this could be keeping two steps away from the person in front of you in a queue or standing to keep your distance from others on a train
  • you should continue doing some kind of physical activity whenever you can to help your mental and physical wellbeing
  • keeping a balanced diet will also help with your mental and physical wellbeing
  • try to think about the positive things in your life right now, rather than listening and hearing all the negative things happening in the world, and remember to take some time away from the media, social media and your devices.

We do not know how long this virus will be around for. We all need to work together to ensure we are doing the right thing for our friends, family, colleagues and our community, to stop the spread.

Last updated: 26 May 2022