How to create new habits, routines to help manage stress amid COVID-19 pandemic

From kids to adults, everyone is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a good deal of uncertainty. Mental health experts say creating new routines can help with managing the stress of it all.
From kids to adults, everyone is dealing with the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, along with a good deal of uncertainty. Mental health experts say creating new routines can help with managing the stress of it all.

Before the coronavirus crisis, children's book author Angie Flores was starting to hit her stride with her passion project, "Cub's Wish."

"I had just gotten into Barnes and Noble," she said. "And festivals and everything just came to a halt."

All of a sudden, this mother of three was stuck at home, out of work and trying to figure out next steps.

"I'm feeling burnt out. I'm starting to feel, you know, angry, agitated and frustrated," Flores said. "And this wasn't me."

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Cleveland Clinic's Dr. Scott Bea said this kind of stress is likely fueled by uncertainty.

"We're really being tested, in terms of controllability. A lot of it is taken out of our hands," he said.

Bea said one way to include positivity in your day is to schedule your time in hour blocks, or even shorter. It adds a rhythm to the day.

"It's actually a known biological treatment for depression, we call it activity-scheduling; many workplaces operate on schedules. If we can start to induce that into our daily lives a little bit, that makes our days go more faster, are more meaningful. We feel more effective in our days," Bea said.
Flores put this into practice. Each positive step led to another.

She scheduled virtual classroom readings and is working on getting her book translated into different languages, including braille.

"I've met people who say, 'Oh, I'd love to try and translate your book' or 'I'd love to help you out,'" she said.

Bea reminds us we're being forced to create new habits, and that takes time. So be patient with yourself and create good ones.

"I'm getting my exercise. Getting fresh air. Getting out there and getting my vitamin D. Taking a walk to the beach or a walk in the neighborhood just to feel like I'm alive," Flores said.

Her book, about a young panda with one wish, has an inspirational message she felt people needed especially now.

"Believe in yourself. Believe in your abilities and know that this is not forever. This is temporary," she said. "As Cub would say, just be happy from within and find happiness in everything you do."
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