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Your Healthy Family: Key to mental health now: Creating new routines

Posted at 8:56 AM, Jun 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-01 10:56:18-04

CLEVELAND, OHIO — Anxiety amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and civil unrest in our country is at a high for many of us. From kids to adults, we’re all dealing with a new situation, and a good deal of uncertainty.

According to Cleveland Clinic’s Scott Bea, PsyD, our anxiety is likely fueled by uncertainty.

He said when we feel like we don’t have control over a situation, it can be difficult for us to find peace of mind.

“We’re really being tested, in terms of controllability. A lot of it is taken out of our hands,” said Dr. Bea. “I think you try to focus on a couple things that are within your control. Really taking all the advisements seriously is one way to exert some governance.”

Another way to inject some positivity into our days, is to make a plan.

Dr. Bea said creating a schedule of activities is especially helpful for those who are home alone and feeling isolated.

“Schedule your day in hour blocks of time, or even shorter blocks of time, so that there’s a rhythm and a pace to your day,” he said. “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 faster, makes them more meaningful, and we feel more effective in our days.”

Dr. Bea reminds us that we’re in a phase right now where we’re being forced to create new habits. And while this takes some time, he believes we should take it seriously.

“Research says it takes about 66 days to form a new habit,” said Dr. Bea. “We are forming habits right now and it’s great if we can guide some of those habits, rather than just having them happen to us. If we can show a little control in that area that would make a big difference for us too.”

Dr. Bea said in a time like this, it’s reasonable to expect our emotions to fluctuate. He reminds us that mental health professionals are available, even virtually or over the phone, to help those who may be struggling with depression or thoughts of self-harm.