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Photo by Nattu Adnan on Unsplash

Anxiety is not new.

I’ve had anxiety since before the COVID-19 pandemic. I spent most of my late teen and young adult years investigating, quite obsessively, how to deal with my anxiety.

Over the past four years, I have spent countless hours “studying” how to live a good life — reading books on self-improvement, mental health, engaging in various forms of talk therapy and other healing modalities, learning skills like how to build a “mindfulness muscle.”

I even spent five days in silence at a meditation center.

I recognize that most of us just do not have the time and…


I am tired. No, I’m really damn tired.

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Photo by visuals on Unsplash

In the beginning, people were afraid. It is scary to be alone in our homes, by ourselves, isolating, to feel like we are cut off from our daily comforts and the outside world.

The truth is that while a lot of people have been sad, I silently said, “Oh, thank god. At least tomorrow, I can stay in bed.”

At first, I thought this made me a terrible person.

Why would I be happy about this mandatory isolation of our society?

And I take a moment to truly recognize the immense, unacceptable…


It’s totally normal to take antidepressants.

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Photo by Hal Gatewood on Unsplash

Recently, a friend reached out to me for advice around deciding on whether or not to get on SSRIs. They felt scared, imagining that they might be on medication for the rest of their lives.

Should I do it? Should I let a pill control my emotions and thoughts? They asked me.

Why do you want to take it? I asked.

“Because I feel like there’s no energy left for me to work on myself anymore,” they replied.

And that’s when I knew.

I was instantly transported to the spring of 2016, a time when I suffered from mental health challenges that felt so unbearable, most days I could not get out of bed. …


Despite our world’s uncertainty, the sun still rises.

I have never felt more at home in my body than in the moments when the day is just about to begin.

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Photo by Eduard Militaru on Unsplash

The imagined smell of fresh-cut grass enters my nostrils, even if my surroundings look like gray and beige buildings, the sound of the occasional horn, a reminder of traffic in the streets. The sun is a terribly beautiful reminder of how stillness remains the ultimate form of waking up.

I can feel Life awakening, opening her eyes, even though our new lives of quarantine and isolation and silence, can sometimes…


How a Zoom holiday gathering taught me about interfaith spirituality.

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Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

“Here I am again,” I thought, clicking on the bright blue Zoom icon.

I have a habit of participating in non-traditional Jewish experiences, probably because my confusing upbringing has led me to prefer non-traditional everything (I’ll get to that later).

But of all my nontraditional Jewish holidays, dialing into a Zoom Seder at 7 AM from Vietnam, of all places, is not where I imagined my Passover this year.

This year, Passover was non-traditional for a lot of people, the barrier of a computer screen squeezed between any possibility of in-person hugs.

In other ways, though, barriers also lifted during…


In the aftermath of what feels like a marketing tactic, I find myself feeling deeply conflicted towards my alma mater.

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Photo by Jake Schumacher on Unsplash

Last week, my Facebook feed flooded with former university peers sharing news that the University of Southern California (USC) will now offer free tuition to families who make less than $80,000 — a huge move that will allow thousands of students access to a university that has historically favored the wealthy.

However, upon reading this news, there was something slightly unsettling I felt that I could not quite put my finger on.

After some reflection, I realized that though this is “good” news, it comes almost immediately following a series of what felt like nonstop, front-page scandals, that have been…


Can opening up about mental health at work actually benefit you? Yes, it can.

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Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Working in the international development and NGO sector can be tolling.

My job requires me to develop an acute awareness of global economic inequalities and its drastic effects on health outcomes in the developing world.

That’s a nice way of saying, “I spend anywhere from 40–60 hours a week thinking about and analyzing immense suffering across our world, and attempting to make a difference in the lives of people who have been affected by some really messed up shit.”

If you know anyone who works for an NGO, you might hear common phrases like high levels of stress, employee turnover, and staff burnout.

In 2018, the UST 2015 Nonprofit Employee Engagement & Retention Report (from NGO Pulse) revealed on average, more than 20% of…


Why travel isn’t really about finding yourself, until it is.

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Photo by Nils Nedel on Unsplash

After living for an extended period in three countries, sporadically taking time to travel as much as possible in between semi-permanent moves (including the cliche but necessary one-month-solo-trip-with-a-backpack-to-find-myself), I continue to come across the same story.

I don’t mean that everyone travels for the same reasons, but I do notice something after the small talk and after the wine bottles are empty. Many people are trying to get away from something. And travel is an amazing way to do that.

Travel makes us question our lives, forces us to become completely engaged with our senses, our bodies synced with the…


Why so many people struggle with maintaining mindfulness and meditation practice.

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Photo by Artem Kniaz on Unsplash

Years ago, when I first started practicing meditation, it was strictly a coping mechanism. Meditation was nothing more than a reaction to a terrifying realization that my anxiety has spun so out of control that I desperately needed to find a way to calm down.

As a yoga and meditation practitioner and teacher, I’ve come across countless people who are interested in meditation, but can’t seem to commit. It’s hard to keep the practice up.

And the reason for that, I believe, is because we have turned meditation into a tool, like journaling, exercising, and hanging out with friends. …


I was eleven years old when my Vietnamese mother told me that there was no point to screaming.

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Photo by Jude Beck on Unsplash

“In America,” she said, “the police will put me in jail for hitting you.”

“But in Vietnam,” she said, “it doesn’t matter.”

And with that, she hit my backside firmly, leaving red, rosy marks on my glutes. I heard the sound of another child, the neighbor’s kids, howling into the night like a wolf. The screams of children being hit by their parents, for many years, was what I thought of when I envisioned my mother’s home country.

What can we learn from a generation or culture that normalized hitting or spanking their children?

Let me first make clear that…

GC Cohen

I write about the things stirring inside.

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