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5 Tips from a Philly Nurse: How to Maintain a Balanced Lifestyle Post-Pandemic

While we were sourdough baking and home-gym building in the throes of the pandemic, self-care and wellness took new forms. We were home all the time picking up new hobbies, spending hours alone reflecting, and walking the dog three times a day to stay sane. Now, Philly is entering a new era. We’re returning to our favorite bars and restaurants, commuting to our office buildings, and, of course, adjusting to the newness of it all.

And, while these adjustments are a sign of city-wide progress, we should also make sure we’re equipped to take full advantage of the new start from a personal perspective.

In 2020 Philly wellness blogger and labor and delivery nurse Jas Nguyen helped us through change with some much-needed wellness tips. Now, as we begin to emerge from the pandemic era into the new normal, Nguyen is back with some fresh advice.

From curating the right new routine to getting back out there, she’s here to help find your balance again. If that means learning physical balance for you, join Nguyen in attending (free!) Be Well Philly Yoga Flow sessions every Wednesday through the end of July at Cherry Street Pier. Enjoy all-levels yoga with Three Queens, and finish with a cold Michelob ULTRA.

Start small.

Many city dwellers have become comfortable with the quiet and independence that came with the pandemic. Thus, the transition back to social interaction and weekends out may seem like a big shift. Nguyen recommends reflecting on the value of human interaction to inspire yourself to reconnect with others.

“During the pandemic we were just so alone,” says Nguyen. “If you make it about wanting to connect with those you need most, you might actually find that the human interaction fills your soul.”

It’s okay to start small with your adjustments. Nguyen’s advice? “Find a cool new restaurant to go out with a good friend, or go for a long walk to talk outside and get fresh air,” she says. Gathering at a friend’s house to enjoy cold Michelob ULTRA and casual conversation may remind you that being in the company of others truly can bring you joy.

Always do what’s right for you.

On the flip side of the social dilemma, there are people who have been gearing up for the return to social weekends and are ready to get back out there. At a time like this, saying yes to all the plans may be tempting, but knowing when to kick back and relax at home is equally important.

The fear of missing out, a.k.a. FOMO, is what Nguyen cites as the hardest part about striking that balance. Luckily, she can relate. “I am the queen of FOMO,” she says. “I never want to say no to people. It’s something that I am still trying to learn.”

If you’ve had a long week, it’s fine if quiet time or seeing a movie would benefit you more than making social plans. That, according to Nguyen, is where the opportunity for balance lies. “Sometimes you need to take that time to recoup and refuel your tank,” says Nguyen. Focus on prioritizing your enjoyment and doing what feels right for you.

Self-care routines can be quick and simple.

Back when we were spending hours alone in one space, self-care often felt more like a way of life than a few special moments of designated time. Now that we’re in and out of the house, at work, with friends, and everywhere in between, we’re having lots of fun—but when it comes to self-care, it’s easy to make an excuse: I don’t have the time.

Nguyen says harnessing the hours we do spend at home can help us overcome that. Preparing a simple breakfast before bed and getting enough sleep are examples of straightforward changes that make a huge difference, she says. Self-care doesn’t have to be something that takes very long—besides that vital seven hours of sleep, of course.

According to Nguyen, the bottom line is that wellness doesn’t require a complex routine, just a consistent one. “It can be one thing that makes a difference,” says Nguyen. For her, it’s working out when she wakes up in the morning. But she says it can be something even simpler: “I took the time to sit down and actually enjoy my cup of coffee, or I sat down and made a to-do list,” for example.

Do the little things to feel a big difference.

For Nguyen, maintaining high morale throughout the day requires one simple rule: “Focus on the things you can control,” she says. Those things can be as small as taking a deep breath, drinking water, or making the conscious decision to do the right thing. When it’s something outside of your control: “Let it go,” Nguyen says.

If you’re mindful about these choices to take control or let go, Nguyen says you’re likely to get a sense of fulfillment. And when you’re really in need of a morale boost, Nguyen recommends finding a simple way to make the world a better place. This can remind you of the control you do have, rather than putting energy into dwelling on the negative.

Rest is productive.

According to Nguyen, it can be easy to feel a need to make yourself busy when you wake up with an empty schedule for the day ahead. “I’m always like, what am I going to do today?” she says. “But I am also on a journey to learning that rest days are okay.” She says that productivity isn’t a function of checking boxes on to-do lists. “I don’t always have to be getting 100 things done in one day.”

There are things that aren’t on your productivity checklist that will still benefit you—Nguyen always recommends going for a walk or being outside, getting active, and connecting with people who matter to you. Even if it just means sitting, enjoying your favorite cold beverage, and reflecting on points of gratitude.

For Nguyen, a sense of balance and control comes with those moments of self-care. “COVID-19 made me realize the importance of sharing special moments of your life with the people who truly mean the most to you,” she says. “Life’s too short to live any other way.”

Do you want to find a way to strike that balance? Try this.