Dr. Jenn Mann: America’s Favorite Psychotherapist: How To Mentally Survive COVID – Virtually Speaking Ep. 3
Dr. Jenn Mann is one of the most well-known psychotherapists in the country, and one of the most sought-after thought leaders on communication and relationships.
Dr. Jenn is perhaps best known as the host and therapist for VH1’s hit shows “Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn” and “Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn”. She is a popular national radio host and is known for her radio show “The Dr. Jenn Show” which has aired on Sirius XM for five years, and has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of TV shows including: The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Steve Harvey, and Jimmy Kimmel Live.
She has a weekly column in In Style Magazine called “Hump Day with Dr. Jenn” and is the author of many best-selling advice books including: “The Relationship Fix”, “SuperBaby”, and “The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids”.In this episode Dr. Jenn and Chris discuss: family and work relationships, the relationship we have with ourselves, dealing with the stress and anxiety of living in a pandemic, becoming more motivated and productive, resetting ourselves and becoming more goal-oriented and fulfilled, and being better family members at home and more effective leaders and team members at work.
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Dr. Jenn Mann: America’s Favorite Psychotherapist: How To Mentally Survive COVID – Virtually Speaking
Joining me is Dr. Jenn Mann, one of the most well-known psychotherapists in the country and one of the most sought-after thought leaders on communication and relationships. Dr. Jenn is perhaps best known as the host and therapist for VH1’s hit shows, Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn. She’s a popular national radio host and is known for her radio show, The Dr. Jenn Show, which is aired on SiriusXM for years. She’s appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of TV shows, including The Today Show, Good Morning America, Dr. Oz, The Doctors, Steve Harvey, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She has a weekly column in InStyle Magazine called Hump Day with Dr. Jenn and is the author of many best-selling advice books, including The Relationship Fix, SuperBaby, and The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. Dr. Jenn and I will discuss family, work relationships, the relationship we have with ourselves, dealing with the stress and anxiety of living in a pandemic, becoming more motivated and productive, resetting ourselves and becoming more goal-oriented and fulfilled, and being better family members at home, more effective leaders, and team members at work. Let’s dive in now with Dr. Jenn.
Dr. Jenn, thank you for joining me here on the show. How are you doing?
I’m good. Thanks for having me, Chris.
Thank you for coming. I’m excited to talk to you. I know that you are in high demand right now because of the world that we live in and people are busier than ever. Is that right?Successful people can make their beds in the morning. Click To Tweet
That is right. Not only is my phone ringing off the hook with clients but also media opportunities because everybody wants to know how do they get through the quarantine, or how do they get through the anxiety, depression, and fears they’re experiencing related to COVID. How do they parent? They’ve got kids at home. They’re full-time working parents or stay-at-home parents. There are a lot of conflicts that are going on. A colleague of mine went for a walk around the neighborhood. Literally, in a one-block radius, she was wearing a mask and gloves, she heard two separate families where the couples were screaming at each other so loudly. It could be heard from the street. It’s a great example of the stresses that this pandemic is putting on couples, families and relationships.
Is there any comfort for us all to know that we’re all going through it? Does that make it easier or is it still as hard? Confiding in each other can be helpful because we’re all going through this.
When we are able to share with people that we trust with friends who are going through similar things and be able to say like, “This is what’s happening to me.” “That’s happening for me too.” It helps formalize it and get at the same time. We insight, be called out on our stuff, and people need tools now more than ever.
You wrote an article that appeared in InStyle and it was the eight things you need to know or things you need to do.
Eight Ways to Stay Positive During Quarantine. I have a weekly column for InStyle Magazine called Hump Day with Dr. Jenn, where I write about relationships, sex parenting, and now all things COVID related to how people relate to each other. I get a lot of questions about parenting, sex, relationships, and dealing with all of those things under these stresses.
What are the highlights of those things that you think are the most important of the eight?
One of the things that most people don’t think about, change and act. Even if you’re in a small one-bedroom or a studio apartment in New York, if you’ve got a window, move your kitchen table from one side to the other. Do something different. Sleep with your feet where your head is. Shake things up. We are seeing the same things and the same patterns to do. It’s over and over again. Sometimes, what we need to break up the energy is simple changes, whether it is having a different breakfast, looking at a different window, or rearranging our furniture, we need to shake things up. With couples, believe it or not, even in quarantine, what we need is space from each other. It is going for a safe walk with a mask and gloves and the whole thing.
I had a couple in a studio apartment, and they said, “Go take a long shower,” or “Go call your girlfriend, sit on in closed toilet lid, call your BFF, talk to her, get it off your chest.” We need a little space from the people in order to refresh us. We have to put emotional gas in the tank in order for our relationships to go the distance under these difficult circumstances. There are a lot of different ways to do that, but we have to be more creative than ever.
That goes counter to, especially with my wife and the kids, and everybody has kids, you need to have this schedule every day and know what that schedule is, but the schedule can change up. What you’re looking at in the house and the way things are situated in the house can all be changed up as well as is what you’re saying.
Your wife is brilliant. The schedule is key when it comes to kids. Kids need consistency and structure. I wrote about SuperBaby. I wrote about The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids. When I say change them up, I’m not saying don’t let your kid nap at 12:00 when their nap is 12:00. That’s going to be a disaster. What I am saying is you don’t have to eat the same thing for dinner every day. You don’t have to keep your furniture where it is that fits each thing visually. That goes a longer way than most people think.All the studies show that meditation helps get your mind in a good set. Click To Tweet
It’s funny, you were saying, talk to your friends and things. Some of my friends are doing the same thing like FaceTime and Hangouts with your friends. One of my friends was so smart. We were trying to do a Zoom meeting or Hangout and then one of the six guys in this group-me group said, “Why don’t we do a poker game?” We could use Zoom. There’s another thing called BlueJeans and similar to that. We’re all in there. We could see each other. We could talk. On another screen or the same screen, we have the poker table that’s virtual and you can play poker with each other. It’s 2 or 3 hours every other week. It’s underrated because when I’m done with it, I feel I was hanging out with them even though it was virtual. That’s something people are like, “I don’t want to do that. I don’t want to Zoom,” but it almost psychologically feels like you’re really with that person.
My partner, Eric and I, have done a lot of FaceTime and Zoom dinners with friends. Every time we do it, we go, “That felt we went out to dinner.” We need that socialization, especially people who are quarantined alone but also couples. Couples need a break from each other in terms of not taking a break-break or even not sitting and having dinner together. It’s a lot of pressure for two people quarantined together for months on end to be the sole entertainment for one another.
What are a couple of tools, short of somebody calling a therapist or things that are easy to do that you’re like, “Everybody should be doing this because it’s really easy?” Is it as easy as making the bed and doing some little things in the morning to start your day to feel good and proud about to get that momentum going, or is this depression, anxiety that’s severe that people are unable to get out of it that you hear a lot?
It depends on the person that there’s the factor. With the study show, we know that successful people can make the beds in the morning. I’m a big fan of the exercise. I believe in putting your exercise clothes out the night before, do it first thing, you get it over with, and then your shower, and be fresh for your day. It’s a great way to start your day. Right now, a lot of people are doing meditation apps like Headspace. Peloton has a 90-day download. They have meditation classes, Calm. There are a lot of different apps if you are someone who has meditated. A lot of the time, people have misconceptions about meditation and think, “I’m not sitting here for 60 minutes. I’m not meditating.” You can meditate for five minutes. You can meditate for two minutes. You can start small and build on that. All the studies show that helps get your mind in a good set.
It can also reduce anxiety but getting support, especially if you are quarantined alone. Making sure that you have day-to-day contact with people who support you, love you, care about you, check in with one another, engage in social activities on Facebook, Zoom, and all that stuff that you are setting updates if you are dating someone. Eric and I do date at home. I have couples in my practice. They’re quarantined in separate places that do Saturday night dates where they open up a bottle of wine together. They sometimes take the same dinner together. It’s an important way to connect and keep your light well-rounded. You think of your life as a pie. We have all of these different needs. There are social needs, work needs, physical needs, exercising, and sexual needs, all of these different needs and look at each slice of the pie and say to ourselves, “Am I feeding myself in each one of these slices? Where I do better? Where am I may be overdoing it?” Maybe you’re socializing so much that you’re not getting your work done. Let’s rebalance that and reassess.
Substance abuse drinking is not going to be helpful. It was trendy to say at the beginning of all of those. People are like, “I’m drinking more now.” Even the horrible idea that the alcohol was going to help you against the virus and help you heal and kill the virus. The bottom line is, the more you drink that’s depressant, you’re going to wake up the next day not feeling very good.
I was talking to a lot of people who are drinking more, using more weed, or using more drugs, all kinds of stuff. It’s important to keep in mind that whatever it is we’re going through emotionally, when we drink or we drug, we’re postponing it. It tends to snowball. We’re brushing it under the carpet but it’s getting bigger. What ends up happening is that our feelings will leak out in self-destructive ways when we don’t address them whether it’s yelling at our partner, freaking out on our boss, procrastinating on an important project, or hurting our reputation with someone we care about. It’s important to be mindful about what substances we’re using at such a critical time.
With the whole work thing, I am surrounded by some cool people in the job that I have, and the concepts, the ideas, and the mantras that so many people are sharing with each other are inspiring. I would think that you could go 1 of 2 ways with everything. You can go negative and positive, half-full glass or half-empty glass. Using this as a time to re-look at our health is going to help us with our immunity. I haven’t been to any fast food or had anything from a restaurant for a while. I make my own coffee at home. There’s no Starbucks anymore in my life. There are a lot of ways, all are starting to be more resetting of our goals also with our business. How can people use this as a positive and say, “This is going to be a good thing for me? I’m glad that COVID happened because I wouldn’t have looked at things this way, or will it have changed something that I now do?”
It’s important when something horrible and tragic happens to try to find meaning in it and figure out a way to improve ourselves. I’m all about self-improvement. The question that people need to ask themselves is, who do I want to be at the end of this quarantine? What skills do I want to develop? What do I want my partner to think of when they look back on this time with me? What kind of employee or employer do I want to be? It’s important to be constantly asking ourselves that, what new skills can I develop? I worked very hard to practice what I preach in all my many years in the kitchen.
I was there for nothing but burning food but I got a gift from a friend. It says something like, “The fire alarm cheers me on because I burned all my food.” Something like that but I’ve learned to cook. I follow recipes. I bake. I can make a meal. It’s something that I’m proud of that, at the end of all of this, my kids are like, “We had no idea you were capable of this.” It’s important to be able to explore it. What did you not know you were capable of that you can now conquer, whether it is ironing sheets? It’s now a necessity. I don’t know about you, I find that hard. I iron some sheets and it took me an hour and a half. I’m still working on that one. Meditating, running on a treadmill, or outside if it’s safe where you are. What skills can you do?Your life is a pie. You have all of these different needs, such as social needs and work needs. Click To Tweet
I’m now in the best shape of my life. I am working out every day. For me, it’s part of how I take care of myself. I demonstrate to my children, my partner, good self-care, my clients, people who follow me on social media, and who I aim to inspire. It’s important to look at what I want to do with this time. There are also a lot of people who are on the opposite end where they’re like, “I don’t want to learn anything. I want to get through this. I need to take ten naps a day.” If that’s what you need to do, more power to you if it’s working for you. What you have to look at in assessing that’s working for you is, are you going down the rabbit hole of depression and feeding into it? Do you need to say, “I’m not going to sleep the day away? I’m going to be productive because even if it’s hard to do that, at the end of the day, that’s what’s going to make me feel good and be self-affirming. Is that what I need to do? Is that good self-care?” That’s one of the key questions to ask.
That all reminds me of something I’ve been thinking about and hearing about as well, which piggybacks to what you said, but what about the things that we’ve always wanted to do, be better at in business, or in productivity as an employee or as an entrepreneur or whatever? We did it a few times and it felt good, but it’s hard to keep that going. It was hard to commit to that new practice, new tool or new technique that you wanted to learn with how you approach your work every night, maybe taking an hour to get ready for the next day, whatever it is. What is it that gets us to that moment where we can step over the line?
We’re at the edge, we could do that and that’ll make us so much better at what we do. When does that breakthrough happen? When do we get to the point where we can look back and go, “I finally accomplished this thing or took on this new ability to be productive?” I go through it. I know a lot of people go through it but how do we get through that? This is a good time to make that happen during this quarantine.
The biggest thing that holds us back is fear. Right now, there’s a lot of fear of the unknown, our careers, our futures, being laid off, furloughed, pay cuts, and finances, all that stuffs. Part of what we have to do is feel the fear and do it anyway. Acknowledge it. Say like, “It’s okay that I’m scared. It’s okay that this uncertainty is getting to me and I’m going to take action.”
It’s so much easier to not do the action, watch that show that you haven’t watched, read that article, or watch that video, whatever it is. How do you turn those other things off that I know are pulling everybody away from productivity and self-work? How do you turn that off and do it?
Reward yourself with it. As soon as I read that chapter that I promised myself I read about business, I’m going to let myself watch that favorite show. Let some of those things be your reward or what you need to take care of. The other thing is that most of the time, those things are the hardest to start. The anticipation of doing it is far worse than doing it. Oftentimes, I’ll say to a client, “I’ve been wanting to read that self-help book but I haven’t been able to get myself to.” Read one page and put it away. A lot of time, once you read one page, again, you get into the flow. You get into that state of mind where time starts to pass more quickly and you get sucked into the activity. Again, starting is usually the hardest part.
That reminds me of fear being the motivator. I have some speakers who’ve talked about that. I’ve felt that way as well. Fear can also be a motivator to be more reflective and to beat the competition or whatever as well, right?
Yes. You’ve heard me talk about fear being the great motivator a million times. You’re afraid you’re going to lose your partner so you work hard to develop your relationship skills. You’re afraid you’re going to lose your job so you up your game. You can be a great motivator but there’s also a tipping point here where you become so fearful for a lot of people that you’re unable to move forward. You’ve got to keep that fear in check. There are a lot of times where it can hold you back or you have to make yourself aware of it and say, “It’s okay that I’m scared. I’m going to do it anyway.” I’m big about feelings, talking about feelings, and processing feelings but there are certain times in life where you don’t let your feelings rule and acknowledge them and say, “This is something that I’m feeling, I’m going to deal with that in therapy. I’m going to talk that through with a loved one, religious leader, or parent, someone who we trust but I’m going to take action.” Ultimately, it’s esteemable acts and taking action that makes us feel good about ourselves.
This is a time where feelings mean a little bit less than they used to because we’ve got to look at the science and the stuff that we’re dealing with here. Listening to what the professionals are saying rather than watching what your neighbors are doing. I know that we’re getting towards the end of our time. If you’d like to leave us with some words that you think would be the way that you’d want to inspire people to think going forward during this time with family and with work? Are there any focus points that you think you can leave us with that might be the most important thing you want to say?
A couple of things. One is going back to what I mentioned before. Who do you want to be at the end of this virus? Who do you want to be as a partner, an employee, a parent, friend, son or daughter? Who is that? Figure out what it is that you need to do on a day-to-day basis in order to get there. The second thing is, when it comes to if you’re in a relationship, your partner, if you’re a parent, your children, or someone you are close to, whether it’s a parent or a friend who you’re struggling with in your relationship, seek to understand. Instead of telling them why they’re wrong or allowing yourself to get triggered, be aware of your triggers and try to understand the other person’s perspective. Ask them like, “Is this what you mean? Is this why you’re so upset about this? Is this why this is important to you?” When we are able to focus on trying to understand our partner instead of changing our partner, it makes us closer and it creates connection. It changes the whole vibe in the relationship and it makes things less contentious and more collaborative.
It goes straight into the business relationships we have as well. When you say partner, it’s subordinate, boss or peer. It’s the same thing, right?
Understand why your boss is pushing you on this thing. Why is he or she frustrated? If it’s your employee, ask yourself, why is this person reacting this way? Are they freaking out under the stress of this virus? Is there something about this assignment or this project that they’re working on that may be triggering for him or her? Is there something along in our interpersonal dynamic as business associates that is making this work contentious than it needs to be?
It’s about being a little bit intuitive but very empathetic and caring more than we’ve ever been before. There’s so much we can’t feel because we’re not in the same rooms anymore.
It’s about being aware, mindful, and looking at our own triggers, whether it’s business or personal. Our triggers get in the way all the time. In most businesses, people don’t realize it. Your childhood, history, relationship with your parents, the things you’ve been through in your marriage or divorce, your parenting, or your childhood, all of that stuff comes into play in your relationships in business. Most people don’t realize how profoundly it impacts how you relate, how you handle things, how you delegate, how you run a business, or how you are an employee and the choices that you make.
Final thought. We can say, “This too will pass,” with the knowledge that whatever it is we’re going through has passed before. There’s a cycle to this, end game or arc. In this case, we’ve never been here and never seen where this is going. How do you feel more secure in the future and what do you say to people who say, “What if it doesn’t turn out okay?” We don’t know what the end game is here. What do you say?
I’m a big fan of the Serenity Prayer. God grant me the serenity to accept things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference. It’s important that we focus on the things that we do have control of. I talked to a lot of clients about asking yourself questions like in this moment. “In the moment, is there a roof over my head? In this moment, is there food that I can eat? In this moment, am I safe? Is there someone who is at the door with a gun?” To be in the moment, we tend to project into the future, especially when our fear crosses that tipping point.
I’ve talked to people who’ve spent weeks like, “Am I going to get fired?” They have a bit where they spent that time and they did get fired. It’s painful and scary but they’re surviving. It’s very important to live in the moment, to change the things you can, to be invented. This is a time where we’re going to have to reinvent ourselves, our businesses, careers, relationships, and environment in so many ways. We have to be open to that. More than ever, we have to embrace change. We have to be willing to adapt because things are constantly changing in this new world that we live in.
- The Relationship Fix
- The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy, Confident Kids
- Dr. Jenn Mann
- Eight Ways to Stay Positive During Quarantine – InStyle Article
- Hump Day with Dr. Jenn
About Dr. Jenn Mann
Dr. Jenn Mann is one of the most well-recognized psychotherapists in the country. Most known as the host and therapist for VH1’s long-standing hit shows Couples Therapy with Dr. Jenn, and Family Therapy with Dr. Jenn, she has appeared as a guest expert on hundreds of other shows including: The Today Show, The Early Show, Dr. Oz, Wendy Williams, The Doctors, The Maury Show, Steve Harvey, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood, The Insider, and Jimmy Kimmel Live. She has been a host and/or cast member on many series including Shopaholic 911 (Style), Pretty Wicked (Oxygen), Propose or Die (NBC), Family Forensics (A&E), and Married By America (Fox).
She is the author of multiple best selling advice books including: The Relationship Fix: Dr. Jenn’s Guide to Improving Communication, Connection & Intimacy, SuperBaby: 12 Ways to Give Your Child a Head Start In the First 3 Years and The A to Z Guide to Raising Happy Confident Kids which have collectively spent five weeks on the best-seller list. She is also the co-author of the children’s book Rockin’ Babies which she co-wrote with her mother, Grammy award-winning songwriter Cynthia Weil.
Dr. Jenn’s advice columns have received wide distribution nationally. Her weekly column in In Style Magazine called “Hump Day with Dr. Jenn,” where she gives sex and relationship advice is posted every Wednesday. Her monthly Dr. Jenn column was printed in Los Angeles Family Magazine and nine other magazines and ran for over a decade.
An accomplished writer, her work has won many awards including The March of Dimes Community Award, the Molina Literacy Award, multiple Mom’s Choice awards, the Purple Dragon Award in children’s literacy, and multiple awards from the Parenting Publications of America.
Dr. Jenn spent five years hosting her popular, five day a week, call-in advice radio show The Dr. Jenn Show on Sirius XM. Prior to that, she co-hosted a nightly call-in advice show called On the Couch with Bradley Wright on Star 98.7 (then Clear Channel, now iHeart Radio). Before that, she had a weekly call-in show on KEYT News called Ask Dr. Jenn where she spoke about current events and gave advice to callers. That show was live on KEYT televised news and simultaneously on the radio station. Dr. Jenn has hosted specials and done fill-in hosting on KFI, Playboy Radio, and Stars.
Dr. Jenn wrote her doctoral dissertation on weight loss, eating disorders, body image and the use of intuitive eating. She created her popular weight loss app “No More Diets” application, which is currently available on iPhone & iPad, on that dissertation. She was part of the USA Gymnastics Taskforce on the female triad (eating disorders, amenorrhea, and osteoporosis) and the Athlete Wellness Committee.
Dr. Jenn was an elite level rhythmic gymnast. She spent five years on the United States National Team, competed internationally, performed exhibitions in the 1984 Olympic Games, and was the junior national champion, winning five gold medals out of five. It was as a competitor, that she started studying sports psychology techniques. She later went on to do sports psychology consulting for USA Gymnastics and now provides her services in private practice to people at all levels, from recreational athletes to Olympic competitors.
Dr. Jenn spent years working for The Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW, now called Peace Over Violence) as a rape and domestic violence counselor and provided accompaniments for rape survivors to hospitals and police stations. She trained hundreds of women to perform hotline counseling.
Dr. Jenn is a licensed Marriage, Family and Child Therapist (L.M.F.T) and has been in private practice for almost three decades. She lives in Beverly Hills, California with her partner Eric Schiffer and twin daughters, Quincy and Mendez. To learn more about Dr. Jenn visit her Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat @DrJennMann.