A year into the pandemic, it's time to take stock of our mental health

Mark the anniversary of the pandemic by taking steps to better manage your mental and emotional well-being. Here's how to do it.

Psychologist John Duffy, author of "Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety," practices in Chicago. He specializes in work with teens, parents, couples and families.

(CNN)I spent the week of March 9, 2020, in the office, sitting across from my patients, one after another, in my office.

We talked about relationship issues, depression and anxiety, and the other stressors of everyday life. No distance, no masks.
There was this vague idea of an impending pandemic. But we felt if anything came of this threat, it would likely inconvenience our lives for a week or two, then slip into soon-to-be-forgotten history.
    In fact, the novel coronavirus barely came up in my sessions that week.
      That was in the time I call the Before Times. The following weeks were disorienting and frightening, unlike most of us had experienced in our lifetime. In one Zoom session the following week -- the first week I had ever heard of Zoom, downloading it for my work -- I likened the quarantine to 9/11 in speaking to one of my teenage clients. She quickly pointed out a most important difference.
      In 2001, we were reacting. By the end of that scary day, the damage was done. In March 2020, as she put it, "This is the first scene of the scariest movie. We know there's a monster under the bed that's going to kill people and wreak havoc. We just don't know how bad it's going to get."
      During the first couple of months of the crisis, we were collectively on high alert. Therapy sessions instantly became discussions around managing the fear and anxiety of pandemic life, for my clients and their families -- and me, too. With all of the sudden changes, including remote classrooms, the establishment of work-from-home protocols and creation of new social norms, we were all out of our element, out of our usual context and out of sorts.
        We've lost so much in this year of devastation, so many of the normal markers of life we typically take for granted. We've missed graduations, holidays, sports seasons, plays, weddings, funerals, hugging, spontaneity and just connecting face to face with friends and family. Many of us have lost people we love.
        Meanwhile, negativity and judgment run high, with most every issue being politicized, down to the wearing of masks. As a result, people feel disconnected and isolated. More of my clients report experiencing a higher sense of self-doubt than ever before. Many of us feel a degree of hopelessness and despair we could not have imagined a year ago.
        In this anniversary week, many of us feel we are left with very little of the good elements of our lives.
        What an enormous difference a year makes. What's next?
        With