Why a wellness routine is your top priority amid protests and the pandemic — and how to start

Incorporating a wellness routine into your schedule can help you weather the uncertainty of the times we live in. Here, a woman practicing yoga does a head-to-knee forward bend, or Janu Sirsasana pose.

(CNN)As states gradually reopen even as the pandemic wears on, many of us are concerned about our health and well-being. Especially now, with some continuing to stay at home and social distance while others join the throngs at nationwide Black Lives Matter protests, it may even be a priority.

From state to state, the loosening of restrictions vary, and within our local communities, the reality is that not only do people have different ideas on what constitutes social distancing but for many others still, in the face of racial inequality, the desire to create social change far outweighs the potential risk of spreading or catching the virus.
It's all the more reason to make sure we're taking the best care of ourselves to fortify against the disease. But while living a healthy life may be a desired goal, how to achieve it is another story.
    Even if you're someone whose healthful habits were perfected to a tee during pre-pandemic times, you may find yourself struggling to engage in even the most basic self-care in these increasingly unpredictable days.
      That's where a wellness routine can come in handy.
      I'm not talking about a spa escape every so often or even regular massages or chef-prepared meals (though all of that may sound really nice). I'm talking about creating your own personalized routine that will benefit you physically and emotionally, one that simply requires a regular commitment to yourself.
      Creating a wellness routine allows you to shift from diet culture and adopt healthy habits that easily fit into your daily lifestyle. What's more, having a routine allows you to focus on health goals by creating structure and organization, which can be particularly beneficial when things seem out of your control, like life during an unprecedented pandemic and simultaneous upheaval as people fight against social injustice.
        In fact, predictable routines, or ritualistic behavior "developed as a way to induce calm and manage stress caused by unpredictability and uncontrollability, heightening our belief that we are in control of a situation that is otherwise out of our hands," according to researchers at Tel Aviv University.
        "We need an internal structure because our external lives have become totally unstructured — and that triggers anxiety and stress," said Robin Foroutan, a New York City-based integrative medicine dietitian and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
        "In the beginning, we thought this was going to be a little break; a couple of short weeks, and then we'd resume life as we knew it. Now we know that probably is not going to be the case. We don't know how long this will last, but we can find ways to stay steady and structured on the inside amidst the chaos outside."
        Engaging in a wellness routine with a focus on good nutrition, exercise, sleep and stress management can boost our health and well-being and strengthen our immunity during a time when we may need it most.
        And while social obligations, travel and other commitments typically make it challenging to start new habits, being stuck at home without these distractions provides an opportune time to start creating a wellness routine that is accessible, doesn't require a lot of money and is something that you can count on during this uncertain time — and in the future, too.

        How to create a wellness routine

        Health experts say it's important to create a manageable routine that you can stick with as part of a lifestyle — not something overly ambitious that you can't sustain. One way to do that is to start small and build upon it, as you feel comfortable.
        Here are some tips to get started in creating your personal wellness routine.

        Set regular times for sleeping, eating and exercise

        "Most people feel better when they are going to bed and waking up at consistent times, eating regular meals and snacks and getting a steady dose of exercise, said Marysa Cardwell, a registered