We are coming up on a year since the COVID-19 pandemic hit the nation full-force, causing the shut down of schools and businesses and forcing most of us to shelter-in-place. And it’s not over yet. As that reality sinks in, it’s easy to feel discouraged, depressed, even despairing.
It might help to reflect a little, on how this year has changed us, individually and collectively. Taking inventory not just of our losses, but also what we may have gained: perhaps a new perspective, or a greater tolerance for uncertainty, or a newfound ability to be patient, or more appreciation for simple pleasures that we used to take for granted.
For me the biggest change has been in how I work, both as a therapist and as a mindfulness teacher. Moving to a telehealth practice was an adjustment, not just to the technology, but also to how it changed my relationships with my patients. I’ve noticed losses as well as gains.
Some patients chose not to continue therapy once I switched to telehealth, so I don’t know how they’re doing, though most have continued. I am meeting more regularly with many, in part because it’s now easier for them to dial in from home, rather than battling traffic, but also because the support I offer has been more needed. The fact that most insurance companies have been covering copays during the pandemic also helps. But this means that I have fewer openings for new patients, at a time when there are more people seeking therapy.
There is definitely something that gets lost in doing therapy via Zoom – I can’t see my patients’ body language, or sense their emotional energy. On the other hand, I’ve been able to meet their pets or their kids, and they’re usually more relaxed because they’re at home. I’ve also noticed that patients are more likely to ask how I’m doing, am I staying safe, and feeling well. I have stayed safe and well, and try to convey that by smiling while making eye contact with the tiny camera on my laptop. Below my silk blouse or sweater set, I wear yoga pants and flip-flops, so I suppose I am more relaxed as well.
I also do phone sessions, with patients who can’t figure out the technology, or need to call from their cars (their only private space), or who simply prefer a voice-only connection. Some take a walk while they talk, and I may listen while walking around my home office or kitchen, quietly straightening things. Needing to keep my hands busy while listening, I dug out my old knitting needles, ordered yarn, and started knitting during some phone sessions. Lacking visual cues, I ask more questions about how the patient feels, and probably interrupt more. Sometimes I think I talk too much because I can’t tell what’s happening in the silent pauses.
I look forward to the day when we can return to the office and I can see my patients fully, hear their breathing, directly sense their agitation or calm. When we can make real eye contact, and wear pants and street shoes. But I can’t predict when that day will come. Nor can I know what percentage of patients will prefer to continue with telehealth, but I am sure some will. So I can imagine a hybrid practice, where patients choose how to connect with me, and no one has to cancel because of traffic or not having a babysitter, which may make therapy more accessible.
While my license limits me to therapy with California residents only, my mindfulness classes, also now on Zoom, have begun to include people from other parts of the country, and no longer are limited by when I can get access to a conference room or classroom.
Making the transition to teaching mindfulness online had its challenges, as my students from the first class last spring will testify, but each week I have learned something new, or figured out how to adapt a lesson to the online format. I have access to things I couldn’t offer in person before, like showing videos; my students can do the practices in the privacy and comfort of their homes, and we can all enjoy a moment of levity with the cameo of a pet or child.
In my personal life, I can also see how the year has changed me. At first, I was most aware of what the pandemic had deprived me of – attending the ballet, symphony, and jazz concerts, a long-planned trip to Paris, being able to hug friends and family – but after a while, I began to discover the benefits and opportunities that this crisis presented as well.
Where others panicked when hair salons were shuttered, I saw an opportunity: I had been coloring my hair for years, starting when I was in my 30s, and now that I’m in my 60s it seemed like a good time to let nature take its course. By the time I was able to see my hairdresser again, I was glad to have my shoulder-length locks shorn, but told her “I’m good with the gray!”
With less going out, I’ve had more opportunity to read, and I’ve focused on educating myself about the history of race issues in this country, from 400 years ago to the present. I’ve learned that it wasn’t just in the South that non-whites were prevented from attending good schools, buying homes in nice neighborhoods, and owning businesses; that the federal government has aided local governments to systematically bypass civil rights laws for decades; that voter suppression activities have increased in the past decade; that even minority law enforcement officers are influenced by unconscious racial bias; and that we have in this country a caste system, that arbitrarily places “whites” in the dominant caste and “non-whites” insubordinate castes, with the descendants of slaves treated much like India’s “untouchable” caste.
I now have a clearer understanding of the causes of our political polarization and racial discord, and a deeper understanding of the ways my white privilege has benefitted me, even though I never believed I was in any way better than people whose skin color was different than mine.
I’m also aware of my “pandemic privilege:” I have a job that can be done remotely, and a comfortable home to work from; I’ve had no loss in income, while saving money I would have spent on clothes and vacations; I don’t have school-age children whose virtual learning has to be constantly supervised, nor elderly parents locked up in facilities that don’t allow visitors. I have much sympathy for everyone who isn’t so privileged, and at the same time, I’m glad that I don’t have those stressors so that I am free to focus on helping my patients and students.
These are some of the ways this past year of dealing with the pandemic has changed me – tell me, how has it changed you?
I have been struggling to write something relevant to the current political and social turmoil that might be helpful; yet while I have many opinions, I am not an expert at political, economic, or social trends. But one thing I do know about is narcissism and its effects.
I know that narcissism exists on a spectrum, from charmingly self-absorbed to pathologically destructive, and I’ve known people who fall all along that spectrum. I’ve witnessed the effects of growing up with a narcissistic family member; I’ve been personally affected; and I’ve spent years in therapy healing from it. I’ve had several narcissistic bosses. And I’ve also had, not surprisingly, lots of clients who are dealing with the effects of a narcissist in their lives.
I have been triggered by the election of a pathological narcissist to the highest office in the land, and felt somewhat traumatized these past four years by his words and actions. I know many others have as well. Maybe that’s why I haven’t been able to write about it until now, now that he’s finally headed out the door. (Cue, “Hit the road, Jack, and don’t come back no more no more no more no more. . . .”)
Because of my experience, I have excellent radar for narcissists, and avoid them whenever possible. This one’s extreme narcissism seemed so glaringly obvious, I didn’t understand why people voted for him in the first place, and I’ve been at a loss to make sense of why so many voted for him again, after seeing four years of his total lack of empathy and concern for others, the self-aggrandizement, the grandiosity, the meanness, the lies, lies and more lies. His “purposeful, vindictive chaos,” as I heard Jon Stewart say on the Colbert Show in January 2017.
When you grow up with a narcissistic parent, your own sense of self doesn’t fully develop. You are more vulnerable to being manipulated by other narcissists, because you’ve been trained to seek affirmation through people-pleasing. You are more likely to be attracted to, and seek out relationships with, other narcissists. Or you may eventually become one. Unless, of course, you’re lucky enough to have some positive, nurturing adults in your life, and the opportunity to get therapy, and to find a support group.
The support group I found, quite by accident, was Adult Children of Alcoholics, a self-help group modeled after Alcoholics Anonymous. At my first meeting in 1982, I was completely blown away as I heard others sharing thoughts, feelings and experiences just like mine, which I had never told anyone. For the first time in my life, I felt I belonged. Which was very weird, because there were no active alcoholics in my family.
Turns out that narcissism is a key trait of alcoholism, and the two co-occur in families with great frequency. In fact, today the group is called Adult Children of Alcoholics/Dysfunctional Families. I also learned later that the effects of growing up with an alcoholic can be passed down over generations. But I didn’t need to know those things in order to know that I should keep going to ACOA meetings. What I learned there was tremendously helpful in healing my own wounds, and allowed me to become a healer for others.
When you grow up with an alcoholic parent, you are vulnerable to becoming addicted yourself, whether to alcohol, another substance, or compulsive behaviors like gambling and shopping. You’re also more likely to be attracted to, and seek out relationships with, other alcoholics or addicts. You may become a people-pleaser, or be terrified of abandonment. The most common traits of Adult Children of Alcoholics have been compiled by members, and called The Laundry List.
Back in the 1980’s, when I was learning about my own dysfunctional family dynamics, there was a popular PBS show hosted by a man named John Bradshaw, who talked about family dysfunction caused by alcoholism, and explained how the children in these families each take on different roles to protect themselves, or other family members, from the chaos, confusion, and fear that the alcoholic’s unpredictable rages and destructive behaviors cause. They may become super-responsible, taking over the parent’s role, or they become enablers or super-caregivers. They might fight back against the alcoholic’s raging, or they might try to become invisible and disappear.
Everyone in this country has been affected by the actions of the narcissist in the White House, but just like in alcoholic families, the effects are different for different people. Some people have taken heroic action to speak up and stand up to his bullying behavior, risking their jobs. Others have mirrored him, seeking his approval by striving to be just like him. Others have exhausted themselves trying to make everyone else happy. And some are simply lost, numb, mute. Those are the ones I’m most worried about.
When you don’t develop a healthy sense of self, you can’t take care of yourself. When your sense of self is distorted by narcissism, you can’t take care of others. The narcissistic parent only loves him/herself, and demands unconditional adoration while dispensing scorn and disdain. That is a traumatizing experience for a child. This country is now full of people who have been traumatized by the narcissist in the White House, directly or indirectly.
Rates of substance abuse and addiction are up, so are rates of anxiety, depression and suicide. The effects of trauma show up in other ways: emotional withdrawal or dysregulation, nightmares and insomnia, difficulties in interpersonal relationships, bullying behavior, lack of academic or career progress, or outright failure to navigate the stages of adulthood.
So now what? How do we begin to heal these wounds? We can start by recognizing what has happened to us, and calling it what it is: the Trauma of Toxic Narcissism. Trauma therapists know that the most important first step in healing trauma is to create a safe space for trauma survivors to process what’s happened. Even when the toxic terrorizer has been vanquished, people still may not feel safe. (I know people who didn’t feel safe even after their narcissistic bully was dead.) Bessel van der Kolk, author of The Body Keeps the Score, has some wonderful videos and resources on Healing from Trauma, and Lisa Najavits has excellent books and trainings on Seeking Safety originally developed for women with PTSD and addiction.
We also need to take immediate and strong action to stop the proliferation of toxic ideas and behaviors that the narcissist has spawned, stopping these Mini-Me’s in their tracks so they can no longer intimidate others. The United Nations has published guidance on countering COVID-19 hate speech, which builds on their global plan to counteract hate speech and contains recommendations for business leaders and individuals. This might be a starting point.
I wish everyone would learn what I have known for years: the narcissist doesn’t change. He doesn’t listen to feedback, he doesn’t learn from his mistakes, he doesn’t acquire wisdom, and he is incapable of developing compassion. He only becomes more of what he is: vain, selfish, mean, delusional. But WE can change, and that’s what truly matters.
As a licensed mental health professional, I was taught to keep politics (and religion) out of the therapy room, to keep the focus on mental health issues. So why am I writing about voting? Because I have come to believe that both the right to vote, and the act of exercising that right, are directly connected to the mental health and well-being of every one of us.
Three of the major crises facing us today – skyrocketing healthcare costs, climate change, and systemic racial injustice – are not only interwoven, as I’ve mentioned before, but impact mental health, and relate to voting. Let’s start with healthcare, and a personal example:
In the past year, three of my relatives have lost their jobs, and as a result, lost their health insurance. All are too young to qualify for Medicare, but over 55 – an age group that is especially vulnerable to job loss (yes, age discrimination is real) and also more vulnerable to COVID-19, as well as all of the everyday health issues that tend to increase as we age. They were faced with either having to pay for continued coverage through COBRA, at 3 – 4 times the cost of their healthcare premium when they were working, or foregoing healthcare coverage until they’d spent down all of their assets so they could qualify for Medicaid. Yes, stuck between a big rock and a very hard place. During a pandemic and a collapsing economy.
While optimism tends to run in my family, is it any surprise that each of them have struggled with feelings of anxiety and depression? Clearly their mental health and well-being is impacted. Yet their painful dilemma, and that of thousands like them, could be solved with the stroke of a pen – the signature of the President authorizing Congress to act to lower the qualifying age for Medicare from 65 to 55. Yes, it could be that simple – that is, if we had a President who believed in programs like Medicare, and who felt some responsibility for the health and well-being of every American. That’s one very important reason to vote on November 3rd.
The stroke of a President’s pen won’t solve all of the issues with our broken healthcare system, so that’s why we also need to show up and vote for state and federal legislation that offers a variety of other fixes, and for local and national representatives who are able to understand the complexities of the system and will reach across the aisle to get bills passed.
In my other role a mindfulness teacher, I heard from a student that she was having trouble embracing the practice of mindful breathing, as her worry about climate change is giving her nightmares. “How will focusing on my breath help anything, when these are real problems that affect all of us and aren’t getting fixed?” she asked.
Climate change is giving many of us nightmares now! Social psychologists tell us that the human brain isn’t very good at noticing change that happens at a slow pace, which may explain why many people ignored what climate scientists (and Al Gore!) were saying for decades. Now that Mother Nature seems to be clobbering us over the head with all of these extreme weather events, more people are noticing, but they’re reacting with despair. Is it already too late?
A member of my monthly mindfulness meditation group shared, “with all that is going on in the world I have been struggling a bit. Seems like every day something new comes up. The one issue that troubles me the most is being put aside . . . and that is climate change.” He went on to say, “but the good news is there are actions we can take to fight against it. And I have found that by taking action it has been a tremendous help to me in relieving my stress and anxiety.”
Exactly. Taking action almost always helps us feel better, because when we focus on what we have control over, and do something, we become stronger, more empowered, and less helpless. And one important action we can take for climate change is to vote.
“We need to be sure that we are electing politicians who believe in science and know how to listen to scientists, can interpret what they are telling them, and have the courage to act. This is not trivial. . . . It behooves us voters to assess current and proposed political leaders at the federal, state, and local government levels come election time, and after they are elected. This is not time to elect climate change deniers.” (Richard Maurer, League of Women Voters, Eden Area, August 2020 newsletter)
Recently we celebrated the 100th anniversary of the passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. Actually, only white women gained this right, since Black women weren’t included until the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1957, and many Native and Latina women were still excluded until 1975, when amendments to the Voting Rights Act of 1965 eliminated literacy and English fluency as requirements to vote.
Early this year, back when we could still travel freely, I was in Austin, Texas, and visited the LBJ Library and museum. As a boomer, I’m old enough to remember when Lyndon Baines Johnson was president, so the museum was a fascinating, and moving, trip down memory lane. I chose just one souvenir from the gift shop, a postcard with this LBJ quote:
“It is wrong – deadly wrong – to deny any of your fellow Americans the right to vote in this country. There is no issue of states’ rights or national rights. There is only the struggle for human rights.”
I had learned from the museum that LBJ didn’t always believe this, since he was raised in a state that had been part of the Confederacy, and that in fact he had been actively involved in voter suppression activities as a young Texas congressman. But his views evolved over his time in office, were greatly influenced by Dr Martin Luther King Jr, and other civil rights leaders of the time, and led him to push for the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which became the hallmark legislation of his presidency.
However, the voting rights guaranteed by this law have never been enforced in many states, and disenfranchisement of Black voters has been common practice in the South. Furthermore, as a result of a 2013 US Supreme Court ruling (Shelby County v. Holder), which reversed a key provision of the Voting Rights Act, efforts to prevent Black and brown voters from voting have intensified in many states, via voter ID laws, purging of voter rolls, gerrymandering and so on. (For a clear and comprehensive explanation of this dark side of American history, I highly recommend reading Carol Anderson’s One Person No Vote.)
As a white person, raised in the North by educated and progressive parents, and residing in the SF Bay Area for forty years, I confess to being in a bit of a bubble until recently. I took for granted the right to vote, because I didn’t realize how pervasive racial injustice still is. I thought when we elected a Black President we were well on our way towards realizing Dr King’s dream (“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”) Instead, it seems that the Obama presidency outraged a certain segment of our society, and we have been experiencing the backlash ever since.
The right to vote is the foundation of any democracy, and democracy is the foundation of a healthy society, a society that values and respects all of its citizens. Thousands throughout our history (including some of my ancestors) have fought for the freedom to exercise that right, and so that it would be granted to all Americans; yet still today there are members of our society who seek to prevent other members from exercising this basic right, based on the color of their skin. Being denied your rights takes a huge toll on a person’s health and mental health; the consequences of systemic racial injustice include higher rates of health and mental health problems, as well as restricted access to health and mental healthcare.
As a clinical social worker, I have seen that simply knowing you have a choice, and that you are empowered to make it, has an immediate and profound effect on lowering levels of stress, anxiety, and depression. I also know that by using our power to vote, we can elect representatives who will fight for our right to better health and mental health care, as well as address climate change and racial injustice, in our local communities and nationwide. So I urge you to 1) make sure that you are registered to vote, 2) educate yourself about the people and issues on the ballot, and 3) VOTE this November 3rd, like all of our lives depend on it!
For more information on voting
The League of Women Voters is a non-profit, non-partisan organization whose mission is to educate and advocate for informed voter participation. To register to vote, confirm your registration status, or learn about the issues on your local ballot, go to Vote411.org.
Sharon Salzberg has a page on her website for Election Season Resources, including some free downloadable images (like the one for this post) and a short audio guided meditation practice.Learn More
My Google calendar reminded me last Friday that I was supposed to be on a flight to Paris, for a ten day vacation. I needed to let that sink in for a moment, so I baked my weekly loaf of banana bread and pondered how the world has changed since I made those plans.
Even if I felt it was safe to spend twelve hours trapped in a large metal cylinder with a bunch of strangers, all of us breathing recycled air (and I don’t), they won’t let me in to France right now! In fact, Americans aren’t welcome in most of Europe, due to our administration’s complete failure to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, causing rates of infection, hospitalization, and death to increase dramatically over the last month, rather than being contained.
Much of Europe, as well as Thailand and Vietnam, two of the world’s poorer countries, have managed to contain the virus, while the wealthiest country in the world can’t provide adequate testing for its citizens, enough protective gear for its front line workers, or paid sick leave so that infected workers can stay home instead of bringing the virus to their coworkers and customers. Worse than that, we have certain news media and elected officials, including the occupant of the White House, telling the American people that the coronavirus is a hoax, that wearing masks is for sissies, and that we should ignore scientific and medical guidelines.
Not only am I now living in a world where I have to worry about catching a deadly virus every time I venture out of my home, but millions of Americans have lost their jobs or are furloughed indefinitely, and economists are warning that the US economy is in the ICU. Certain politicians are asking us to choose between saving the economy and saving our lives. (It’s a false choice: Sweden chose not to implement sheltering-in-place, mask-wearing or social distancing, betting they could manage the pandemic without damaging the economy, and yet they’ve lost more lives to COVID-19 than neighboring countries, and their economy still tanked.)
And if all of that isn’t bad enough, while we’ve been sheltering-in-place and losing jobs, Black people have continued to be killed by police officers at a much higher rate than whites, and when thousands of Black, brown and white people, young and old, have peacefully protested these killings and the systemic racism that underlies them, the protesters have been attacked – not only by angry white people, but now also by agents of our own Federal government.
The world I live in seems to be crumbling into complete chaos and confusion. And yet, I do not despair, in fact, I’m feeling oddly optimistic. It’s not because back in March, at the beginning of the shelter-in-place, I discovered a great recipe for banana bread: it’s gluten free, dairy free, sugar free, and surprisingly quite delicious. I’ve made a loaf nearly every Friday afternoon, when my work week is done, to provide some guilt-free comfort. (I know I’m not the only one who’s been doing more baking and cooking while stuck at home.)
Let me tell you why I’m feeling hopeful these days about the future. First, as I learned years ago, and have been telling my clients over the last few months, every crisis presents not just a threat but also an opportunity. The threats are usually obvious; it takes effort to find the opportunities. While this pandemic is clearly the worst crisis any of us now living have known, history offers evidence that it could become a portal to creating a better world, as the writer Arundhati Roy suggests at the end of this article.
As I see it, the three major crises we’re experiencing in this country – the rising rates of infection and death from COVID-19, the worst economic slump since the Great Depression, and the explosion of outrage over racial injustice – are all connected. (For a more eloquent explanation, see Nicholas Kristof’s recent column in The New York Times.) Consider this: the idea of tying healthcare benefits to employment made sense in the 20th century, but in today’s rapidly-evolving and increasingly gig economy, it no longer does. Losing your job should not mean losing your family’s healthcare benefits. The need for some form of universal healthcare has never been more obvious.
Consider also that the need for social safety-net programs like Medicaid, Headstart, and food stamps is growing, but did you know that the primary reason those programs have been maligned and underfunded for decades, by Republicans as well as Democrats, is due to the erroneous belief that Black and brown people take advantage of these programs, while white folks pay for them? (To find out the real story, read Dog Whistle Politics, by Ian Haney Lopez.)
(By the way, my optimism is fueled by the evidence that people are reading books like his, and that Richard Rothstein’s The Color of Law and Robin DiAngelo’s White Fragility are bestsellers. Democracy requires an educated citizenry, and books are a portal to knowledge, while the media can be manipulated and can also become a tool for social control and oppression.)
Thus we have an opportunity here. If we can change the structural conditions that led to these crises, we can solve them all. We can begin by expanding Medicaid and Medicare to cover anyone who needs it, as well as providing paid sick and family leave for all workers. While we’re at it, we can expand access to daycare and preschool programs, as well as increase wages for childcare workers and caregivers. Changes like these will not only improve the lives of our Black and brown citizens, they will keep the rest of us healthier, provide a better future for all of our children, and create more jobs in the healthcare and social services sectors.
Comfort food can also be healthy and delicious, like my banana bread. Making programs like Medicaid/Medicare and paid sick leave open to all enhances the health and safety of everyone, and in doing so, is cost effective. In taking care of the most oppressed and vulnerable members of our society, we all benefit. I hope that the coronavirus pandemic has made this truth so painfully obvious that voters and our elected representatives will make it happen this year. We can seize the opportunity in the midst of this crisis to create a better world!
I am enrolling now for Mindfulness-based Cognitive Therapy groups, including a new online group. MBCT is an eight-week program using a set of cognitive-behavioral therapy principles and mindfulness practices that are extremely effective in relieving mild to moderate states of anxiety and depression, as well as chronic worry and unhappiness. So I thought you might like to know what we do in MBCT, and how it works!
First, we learn about autopilot mode: our habitual way of functioning that allows us to get through the day, doing the things we have to do, while our minds are elsewhere – usually rehashing events or conversations from the past, or rehearsing events or conversations we anticipate in the future. That constant rehashing and rehearsing is tiring, and it contributes to anxiety and depression.
We learn how to step out of autopilot and into the present moment, using the breath, the body, and our five senses to help us get there and stay awhile. When we’re in the moment, we’re able to notice what’s happening right now, which is likely to be at least neutral, if not positive. For example: I’m breathing and I’m alive, at least 80% of my body doesn’t ache and is functioning just fine, it’s stopped/started raining and the sun is/isn’t shining, and I’m hungry/thirsty/sleepy/restless/bored. In the present moment, things are just as they are, and most of the time nothing bad is happening.
A common misperception about mindfulness is that it means we just live in and for the moment, with no regard for the past or future. That’s a mistaken view. When we’re mindful, we are awake and aware of what is happening, both within us and around us, which includes not only our body sensations, thoughts, and emotions, but also awareness of the past and the future, of our memories and plans. We haven’t forgotten what’s happened to us, we’re just not stuck constantly re-living it. We aren’t oblivious to the future, we just aren’t trying to solve problems that haven’t happened yet.
As we practice stepping out of autopilot (via exercises like the Body Scan and being mindful of routine daily activities) MBCT students work on strengthening the ability to focus attention, using simple meditation practices. This helps to reduce mind wandering and lessen the grip of powerful negative thoughts and emotions. They also practice non-judging awareness, by bringing an attitude of kind and interested curiosity to their experience. These are the foundational elements of mindfulness, also taught in Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programs.
In addition, MBCT incorporates cognitive therapy concepts like this one: mood influences perception. For example, if you’re in a low mood, you’re more likely to perceive social rejection. We learn that the human mind has a “negativity bias,” and that being anxious or depressed will magnify the effect. MBCT students practice noticing habitual reactions of aversion and attachment, learning how to turn towards uncomfortable sensations, emotions, or thoughts, and to sit with them, rather than ignoring or trying to avoid experiencing them. This is a powerful practice that increases one’s capacity to tolerate difficult mental and emotional states.
Another concept we learn in MBCT is that thoughts are not facts. It is possible to learn to step back from thinking and simply observe your thoughts without being caught up in them, which reduces reactivity and increases stress resilience. And a key concept in MBCT is this: motivation works backwards in depression, meaning you can’t just wait for depression (or anxiety) to go away. You’ll have to push yourself to do things when you don’t feel like it, but if you practice staying in the moment, allowing your feelings to just be, and then focus on simple tasks that bring pleasure or mastery, you will improve your mood, as well as your physical well-being and self-confidence!