If you are not having dark, depressing thoughts as of late, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Nearly everyone you speak to feels either frightened, angry, out of control, or like they are losing what’s left of their mind. Don’t you wish losing weight was as easy as losing your mind?

Believe me, you’d lose your mind trying to understand mine. The truth is sometimes you have to lose your mind to come to your senses.

The bleak, black thoughts we are having these days may cause us great suffering. The more we focus and fixate on them, the more power we actually give them. Know this: You are not your thoughts. Try taking some deep, relaxing breaths and simply observe your ideas and opinions coming and going.

Many of us are becoming increasingly sad and angry at the hypocrisy that has become nearly impossible to stomach. If someone states her opinion, it’s freedom of speech; but if you state yours, it’s suddenly hate and intolerance. Sheesh. Apparently, looting is the new undocumented shopping and is perfectly legal. But guess what: No work boots were stolen during the riots. Go figure. Apparently, California’s new four seasons are: Fire, Flood, Earthquakes, and Riots.

How often do you see or hug your family or friends these days? Some of our relationships are affectionate, soothing, and even uplifting. Our attachment system forms a bond with loved ones, and they actually become a part of us. To our hormonal system and brain it feels as though we are being fed bits of the most finger-licking and mouth watering chocolate you can imagine all day long. And y’all know how I feel. Chocolate is Nature’s way of making up for Mondays. Indeed, chocolate gives you energy, which of course can be used to buy more chocolate. Win, win. But seriously, when you are not able to be near or hold your friends and family, the attachment system in your brain and body is amiss and can make you feel unhinged. After all, it’s the “love” that makes your house a “home.”

They say: “Be afraid to hug anyone.” And many are. Consider this: Oxytocin receptors are like antennae throughout your body. They pick up on socially intimate and bonding experiences and are released, creating feelings of closeness and calm. This natural hormone eases stress. That is why a hug is nature’s healer. It essentially counters the effect of cortisol, which is the stress hormone in our bodies. If there is anyone you are on hugging status with, now is the time to grab that bear hug. While you’re at it, say “I love you” more. The best thing to hold onto these days – is each other.

A loss of something cherished and treasured can take a huge toll on your wellbeing. So imagine a whole smorgasbord of stressors: financial difficulties, loneliness, mandated masks, and incessant reports of “testing” for a specific virus, which creates persistent, worry, tension, and unease.

Okay, you have all heard a boatload about healthful eating. But what about healthful thinking? Believe me, I know it’s hard to diet when your favorite exercise is chewing. Your idea of eating healthfully is blowing sugar off your doughnut? I’m sure we all agree. Rice cakes have no right to call themselves cake at all. I get it. But how can you change your negative self-talk? First things first. Notice that running commentary in your head. Yes, the one that is even going on right at this very moment. Are some of your thoughts exaggerated? Do you have a lot of set ideas about how things or people “should” be in this world? You may be setting yourself up for constant disappointment when life does not unfold the way you think it ought to.

How often do you start sentences with “always” or “never”? Overgeneralizations are rarely rational, my friends. Please don’t punish everyone because of what some people have done to you. Don’t put everyone in the same cup of water. Ever notice how we are more prone to generalize the bad than the good?

Now it’s time to choose a more helpful thought. Yes, handpick one, please. Here’s mine: Life is better with you in it. Start each day with a positive thought, like: “I can go back to bed in just 17 short hours.” But truly, sweet friends, thoughts can inspire, move, and motivate, or drain and deplete you. Select them wisely. Do not let your mind wander like an untamed animal, and please don’t let yourself be pushed around by the fear the media is stoking, Think about every good thing in your life right now. Leave the door open just in case happiness wants to sneak in.

You may be rediscovering yourself. Be gentle, settle down, and take it easy. After all, the only true journey is the journey within.

Caroline is a licensed psychotherapist, crisis counselor, and writer with an office in Queens.  She works with individuals, couples, and families.  Appointments are available throughout the week and weekends.  She can be reached at 917-717-1775 or at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.  or at facebook.com/pages/Safe-Haven-Healing.