Illustration: Matija Medved

One Day at a Time

Feeling Guilty for Not Doing Enough? You Are.

Daily insights on life in the face of uncertainty, by psychiatrist and habit change specialist Dr. Jud Brewer

Elemental
Published in
6 min readApr 20, 2020

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Are you feeling stuck at home, unable to do anything but watch the current crisis from the sidelines? Maybe even feeling guilty or ashamed that there are doctors, nurses, and other first responders on the front lines of the battle while you’re safely at home? What you’re feeling is totally normal — and there are ways to keep from spiraling into negative emotions and recognize that we’re all doing our part.

Recently, my brother-in-law sent me a text of a Muppet dressed in a white coat with a stethoscope around his neck with the caption: “STAY HOME… unless you want to get intubated by a psychiatrist.” As my wife put it, this was funny and not funny at the same time.

We psychiatrists are much better at focusing on the mind than the body, so I’m doing my best to pitch in from home. I’ve switched my outpatient clinic to telemedicine, and I hold weekly office hours on YouTube live so that anyone can reach out with questions. I’m better at this type of stuff than I am at working in the ICU — I haven’t intubated a patient since I was a resident. And as I’m about to explain, feeling guilty…

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Jud Brewer MD PhD
Elemental

Addiction Psychiatrist. Neuroscientist. Habit Change Expert. Brown U. professor. Founder of MindSciences. Author: Unwinding Anxiety. www.drjud.com. @judbrewer