In Australia social gatherings are back on the agenda, intrastate travel is permissible; playgrounds have reopened, and so have restaurants.

At the beginning of lockdown, we were told Shakespeare wrote King Lear while sheltering from a plague; we were told we would eat, and eat again; and we were told – many times – that life indoors would give us time to reflect.

While isolation has not been positive or pleasant for many, it has lead to some new discoveries, and rediscoveries. Here, writers share the lockdown habits they intend to keep.

I started an album club

Osman Faruqi

A few weeks into lockdown, when I was craving social interaction and desiring the kind of light, fun discussions about pop culture I’d normally have with friends at a pub, I threw out an idea on Instagram.

I’d always wanted to initiate an ‘album club’. Just like a book club, but instead of reading something, the idea was we’d all listen to an album and talk about our favourite and least favourite tracks, the cringiest lines, the themes, and share gossip about the artist.

Our first session on Zoom had more than a dozen participants from all over the world. Some members were old friends, and some I’d never met before. We spent nearly two hours talking about Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia, but also getting to know each other by swapping lockdown stories from our various cities and countries.

It was an experiment, but it worked and everyone loved it. We made them weekly, talking Madonna, FKA Twigs and Billie Eilish. 

When society started opening up again and people were no longer forced to video conference for human interaction, I felt a twinge of sadness that the album club might not have a place in a semi-normal world.

But we’re going to try and make it last. I recommend everyone who loves music give it a try. It’s a fun excuse to hang out with your mates and talk about some bangers.

I cultivated found-cuttings


Since lockdown started, my daily walks have become opportunities to feed my plant-lady lifestyle, by taking “fair game” cuttings from around my suburb. Plants overgrowing in parks or spilling over fences onto the footpath. I’ve begun filling a grubby tote with whatever I know will survive the chop.

My most ambitious addition thus far has been a gutter rescue frangipani branch. Beginning with a few succulents, my magpie brain has lead me to fill every windowsill with old pesto jars, fostering the new cuttings before they’re ready to be planted.

Found cuttings make great gifts and have brightened up my apartment in an affordable way. As long as you don’t damage the original plant, I think it’s a wonderful way to interact with, and benefit from your neighbourhood commons. Now I’ve transformed into a snipper – scouting Google map’s ‘green zones’ for my next addition – I don’t see myself stopping.

My sharehouse started holding family dinners

Bec Zhuang


Before lockdown, it was rare for my housemates and me to all be at home at the same time. We’d rarely hang out, despite being childhood friends and literally living within metres of each other. 

Now our home offices have started to take shape, we’ve made a habit out of sharing meals and cooking for each other. We’ve introduced each other to new food and new recipes, and found ourselves coming together for house dinners every week or so; sharing a few bottles of wine and showing our love through a home-cooked meal.  

Not only have we been able to reconnect with each other and get to know everyone’s partners, we’ve also been reminded that the friendships worth nurturing are often the ones closest to home. As our lives return to normal, we’re planning on keeping house dinners in the diary.

I learned to love laundry day

Andrew P Street


Doing the laundry used to be, at best, a grim and smelly hygienic necessity. However, under lockdown, it became an oasis in the otherwise drably-identical days as time lost all meaning and March gently turned into Flebuvember. 

After decades of apartments and sharehouses I now have access to a back yard and an unshared washing line where I don’t have to fight for space. Somehow, the ritual of putting out washing became my little Covid-zen moment. 

As things start to loosen up, it’s still the highlight of my working-from-home day. I treasure the screenless minutes standing among green things, lorikeets and corellas screeching from fruit trees, reflecting with gratitude on how I’m not forced to work around the pungent, rain-soaked doona some other resident left on the line a week earlier. 

I let myself go grey

Natalie Parletta


Lockdown has been the perfect opportunity to take the plunge, and let my hair grow out – and it’s been so liberating. It turns out the most grey my follicles have produced so far is a distinct tuft at the front, reminiscent of Lily from The Munsters, along with a few extras peppered here and there.

I’m not alone. I’ve discovered thousands of women, of all ages, flocking to a “Growing Grey Gracefully” Facebook page for inspiration and courage. Behind the curtains of the pandemic, they’re sharing hair at various stages of skunk-like regrowth, many after years of colouring. Then there’s the #greyhair Instagram craze. 

No one seems to have any regrets. For me, it means no more regular trips to the hairdresser to hide the dreaded regrowth, no more chemicals and no more exorbitant fees. Freedom! 

I took up online learning

Denise Cullen

As a forensic psychologist, I need to engage in continuing professional development to maintain registration. Mirroring the transition to remote client consultations through telehealth, the Australian Psychological Society brought lots of its training online. One night I might be participating in a webinar about differentiating child sexual abusers; another night countering violent extremism; the next conducting evaluations remotely.

But to balance that up, I’ve also been doing some purely for fun stuff – Lauren Bath’s online photography course and Ivy Newport’s Flight and Feather encaustic art class.

I love the flexibility of online learning – being able to sign in whenever it suits. It’s also more affordable than attending in-person training. A lot of the APS training was available at no cost; while other online providers offered discounted classes. The informal networking opportunities aren’t the same online, but from a flexibility and cost point of view, it definitely trumps face to face.

I became a runner


When the pandemic took hold, my gym closed and I started working from home, I worried about not being able to exercise and lethargy setting in. So I started a combination of walking, jogging and running around my suburb, so I didn’t feel like I’d just been sitting at my laptop all day.

Now it’s something I can’t do without. I’m up to between 6-8km a day. I get through so many podcasts and I’ve discovered so much more of my local area. Parks, shops and restaurants that I never knew were there before.

Gyms are reopening later this month, but I am hopeful I can keep this daily habit mixed in with regular workouts. The difficulty will be once the commute to the office returns – the laziness will set in again. Not to mention Melbourne’s winter.

I detoxed my Instagram feed

Melissa Pearce

Seven days into lockdown it was clear I needed to take a Marie Kondo wand to social media. The content of my Instagram seemed especially off-kilter – 2,697 pages of blue French lace corsets or Costa Rican sunsets. Then it came to me – to start afresh with only accounts that would help inspire and comfort, I decided 19 was as good a number as any and unfollowed the rest.

Music, comedy, self-care, art, creative minds, Covid-19 commentators, recipes and photojournalism were genres I needed. I did include one fashion page, but I was pretty disciplined.

And it seems something has changed on Instagram too; pre-pandemic the lasting sentiment after an Instagram deep dive was FOMO or consumerism. Now my feed feels diverse, but unifying. May this Instagram linger a while longer.

I got serious about meal planning

Celina Rebiero


If crises reveal – not change – us, what the coronavirus lockdown has done in our household is reveal the extent to which menu planning is awesome. I had always dabbled in weekly menu planning, getting a large shop and then mapping out the week’s dinners to allow for variety and limiting waste, but frequently, in the pre-times, this would be thrown off by life or the ability to pick up food at a whim.

During coronavirus lockdown with our need to limit visits to the shops or deliveries, our badly-kept-to habit took on a new necessity. Taking 10 minutes out at the arrival of a grocery haul sounds tedious, but it meant our meals were more interesting, our food waste fell to zero and we spent about a quarter less on groceries than usual. This one, she’s a keeper.

I learned to balance (on one leg)

Steph Harmon

A boring thing to talk about is how you have finally discovered balance in lockdown. It is much cooler to talk about how you have used this time to learn how to balance on one foot, like a literal child.

Two years ago, a physio told me to stand in front of her on one leg and then the other, and narrowed her eyes at me as I fell over immediately, twice. Mortifying.

Now, with the freedom of working from home, I suddenly have time for the exercises I lied about doing for six months’ worth of paid consultations – and two months later, I can balance. Sometimes for a full minute, even 90 seconds; sometimes holding on to my big toe and stretching my lifted leg out in front of me; sometimes kicking it out straight behind me in a yoga pose that is meant to look graceful but in fact looks bad.

The epic concentration required has the added bonus of completely shutting my mind down in a way I never quite managed with yoga. I pine for the days that I can loudly challenge my colleagues to a balance-off in the shared office kitchen. Until then I will settle for bragging about my dumb skill on a global news site.

I rediscovered reading

Shaad D’Souza

I know it’s something of a cardinal sin for a writer-by-trade to not really be a reader, but for the past few years, I’ve never really been able to find the time (or drive) to read books. Since I started writing and editing, my day-to-day has been a constant jumble of think pieces and corrections, news aggregation and email sending. By the time I clock off, there’s little I want to do less than read.

Most years, I’m lucky if I finish five books. When the pandemic hit, my full-time contract was cut by about 75%, and many of the outlets I would usually freelance with cut budgets, so I was suddenly left with a lot of spare time and a lot of books I’d accumulated and never read.

Now, one of my lockdown joys is reading books again; I re-read Melissa Broder’s The Pisces two weeks ago, and will probably finish Natasha Stagg’s Sleeveless tonight. I’ve got another two books lined up to read after that, and, even though restrictions are slowly lifting, I don’t think I’ll kick this habit too quickly. It seems obvious, but I’m finding that reading challenges me to sit with silence and helps build an attention span that’s been getting shorter and shorter.

Most of all, reading provides a kind of true escapism, free of notifications and news updates. And nowadays that, above all, is what I crave most. 

My hands are finally clean

Alyx Gorman


Sometime in late February, well before lockdown, we were taught a simple way to stop the spread: don’t touch your face. As this super-cut of people touching their faces immediately after telling us not to makes clear, it’s an impossible directive. 

But the other “stop the spread” suggestion – regular hand washing – is incredibly achievable. And I wasn’t doing it. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always washed my hands after using the bathroom or before I cook (I’m not an animal), but that was it. I didn’t wash my hands after handling money. I didn’t wash my hands after grocery shopping. I didn’t wash my hands after being on public transport. And then, because it’s impossible not to, I touched my face. 

Now I wash my hands routinely and diligently, just like WHO tells us to. It costs nothing, takes little time, and I’ve come to find the ritual quite pleasant. I’m a relatively frequent cold-catcher, but even as the temperatures have dipped, I’ve not gotten sick.

It shouldn’t have taken a pandemic to teach me to do this – primary school should have done the trick. I’ll never stop touching my face, but even when a vaccine is found, I’ll be poking at my cheeks using freshly washed hands.

Have you developed any habits in lockdown you plan to stick with?
Let us know in the comments.

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