Finding Peace Amidst Adversity
There’s no denying it, our current situation is far from ideal.
Working with people all over the world has given me vulnerable insights into how differently people are coping through this time. It is a spectrum. I have clients who absolutely are loving quarantine; those who are finding peace and comfort in solitude and slowness. And, I have clients who are deeply suffering, nearly crippled with anxiety and fear. And everything in between.
Let me be clear in saying I do not believe there is any right way to cope. Everyone’s feelings are legitimate and valid.
I have been pretty quiet on my social pages as things are changing so quickly and I have had to work hard to stay grounded. There is no shortage of idea sharing happening and it almost feels like too much, for our mortal minds try to keep up.
Yet, as I see more and more people who are suffering amidst the abundance of fear based messages from sources of every type - friends of doctors or nurses - daughters of doctors - respiratory therapists - or really any person who wants their opinion to be heard, I am feeling called to share a few thoughts. Purely with the intent to provide comfort in this time. Not because I want you to believe what I believe.
As an empath, I feel the fear and anxiety all around me and know it needs tending to. We all need hope, reassurance, and actionable steps to calm the tired mind.
So, read on if that interests you and if not, kindly and peacefully, find your way to something that resonates with your story more. I am not here to argue, to claim I’m right or to say I have all the answers. I merely want to offer a glimmer of hope to those who really need it right now.
What has helped me the most during these last few weeks in staying calm and collected is focusing on what I know to be true versus what someone else is saying to be true.
Truth #1: Humans are incredibly resilient
How do I know this? I see miraculous turnarounds in health all the time in practice. I’ve experienced health miracles in my own body and watched them unfold for family members. If you don’t have this experience, you can look at history. As a species we have survived through so much adversity and through many pandemics. There is no other explanation, we are resilient.
Truth #2: Assumptions are not our friend
We can spend time speculating all day making a good case around what we think is going to happen as a result of all of this. Yet, at the end of the day, the truth is we don’t know what life is going to look like on the other side of this. For most of us, this is the first time we are experiencing a pandemic and even if we have lived through one, times have changed and nobody truly knows what is going to happen.
I personally experience anxiety when I spiral into thinking about all the “what if’s." This is when fear creeps in along with a racing heart and feeling like my gut lining is burning in acid. All very unpleasant sensations. I actively have to choose not to stay in this place a few times each week. The more I practice, the easier it gets.
Truth #3: I find comfort in knowing I have the tools and support to carry me through hard times
You don’t have to be a doctor to know how to take care of yourself. In fact, I would argue that being a doctor can quite possibly be one of the most unhealthy professions. Did you know the suicide rate of doctor’s is the highest of any profession and is more than double the normal population? And then there’s the unhealthy amount of hours worked, eating rushed at desks, high stress levels, poor diets or self-care habits, etc that often accompany this line of work. I digress..
I have the tools to care for myself and my family because I prioritize health most days. Yes, I have 6 years of medical school under my belt, but I know SO MANY really healthy people who do not. What we all have in common is mindfulness. And I’m not talking about a strict meditation practice, but rather a general awareness about how we are living and if the choices we are making are supporting us in health or not. This practice is absolutely free and available to us all.
Our bodies are our greatest teachers. They speak to us with symptoms and sensations. Often starting as a whisper when something falls out of balance and eventually progressing to a scream if we chose not to listen. We always have the choice to listen and begin living in greater alignment with what our bodies need. Alternatively, we can choose to tune out these warning signs, or suppress them with pharmaceutical interventions. However, the further we suppress, the louder the body will yell. Unaddressed fatigue or lack of self-care can turn into full blown adrenal insufficiency, unprocessed trauma can manifest as pain and years of emotional and/or environmental toxicity can turn into cancer.
Hold up. I’m not saying that if you, or someone you love, has cancer that you/they caused it. It’s a fact that there are hundreds of chemicals regularly used in the US that contribute to the development of cancer. Many are found in tap water and food! I also see how emotional toxicity builds up and leads to physical degradation often in my practice. You might be able to relate to something of this nature in yourself if you think about it. Stories like, “ever since my parents divorced, I have experienced chronic constipation.” This helps explain why there’s an entire book on cancer survivors who say their cancer was the best thing that ever happened to them. It allowed them take a closer look at areas in their life that were contributing to their illness, like staying in a career or unhappy partnership for years. These survivors experienced Radical Remissions, despite all odds, when they made changes to support living in greater alignment with their mental, emotional and physical needs.
But let's say you are doing your best to eat well and live mindfully and are still not experiencing the health you want. This is where prioritizing great care comes in. All doctors are not created equally. We all have different training, life experiences and individual constraints that contribute to the care we offer. Putting the effort into finding a practitioner you TRUST is one of the best gifts you can give yourself. Don't just trust them because they wear a white coat, but really ensure they make you feel safe and heard and that they are producing results! I know this might read like an advertisement for myself, but I genuinely am not writing this to gain patients. I am writing this because I know the spectrum of care that is offered. It’s QUITE a range. Some doctors offer 7 minutes of their time; some 2 hours. Some work in a hospital or clinic where they have to offer care in a standardized way that leaves no room for individualized treatment and others have more freedom in private practice. This is why you can go to five different doctors and get five different opinions. We are humans. Medicine is not black and white and there is no “right” way to treat many things. Sure, standardized care applies to some situations but when we are talking about real healing - not surgical medical emergencies - there are many approaches that can yield beneficial results.
The point being, don’t settle for “x” doctor because your insurance covers them or they were assigned to you. Do your own research and interview doctors like you would interview a babysitter for your children. After all, you are trusting them with your life. And if the doctor you want to work with is out of network, really consider if you can budget differently to still make it happen. I know many people who have money for alcohol, a new TV, non-essential clothing, or going out to eat that also "can’t afford" to pay for the doctor they want to see.
Having a good doctor is like having badass superpower. They should help you navigate how to be the best version of yourself. Not, follow an algorithm or flowchart and prescribe based on x, y symptoms. A good doctor can be your saving grace during times of hardship, like this. Guiding you with resources and an open ear while your body navigates it’s way towards equilibrium.
I am personally attest to this as I am currently working with two naturopathic doctors. One who has been on my team for 6 years. She’s helped me through pregnancy loss, medical school trauma, my pregnancy with Ira and recovery postpartum, as well as relationship hardships, life hardships, you name it. She’s been INVALUABLE to me and I am so grateful to have her as a liaison in my life. I also work with another naturopathic doctor who is a thyroid and environmental medicine expert because I wanted her expertise in some of my own health concerns. They both have helped me tremendously despite being an expert in naturopathic medicine myself. We were taught in medical school to never treat ourselves, and while I never want to disempower someone from being their own guide, there is a tremendous benefit to having someone with an unbiased, and more objective lens, help you navigate your path to wellness.
Again, this is my case for prioritizing your health-care team. Perhaps you don’t prioritize health or have a preference who treats you, and that’s absolutely OK. However, I doubt that’s the case if you made it this far in reading.
Ideas for staying centered and grounded during this time of uncertainty include:
Stick to facts and do not let your mind run circles around “what if’s”
Surrender to uncertainty and do not make assumptions
Build resilience through daily choices that are in alignment with greater health
Curate an all-star healthcare team
Be curious and compassionate
1. Stick to facts and do not let your mind run circles around “what if’s”
Help ease a mind in overdrive by organizing a list of fears into what is factual vs. a perceived threat. Example: It’s possible I may get the virus but the fact is I am healthy now. Or, my husband is high risk therefore he’s in immediate danger vs my husband is currently alive and well. Bringing yourself into the present moment is a timeless way to move out of the anxiety that comes with thinking about the future, or the depression that can come with ruminating on the past.
It’s also important to take a critical look at what is assumed as a fact. For example, someone says “my brother is an ER doctor and said this ____” This is a classic example of the game telephone. Perhaps the message being relayed is the full truth, or perhaps it has been modified a bit, hyped up, played down. Who knows. The fact is this is hearsay. It’s also hearsay if your friend is the ER doctor and said, x, y, z. You are not really there and you’re getting a snippet of a bigger picture.
What is true? Most people survive. Consider how different we would feel if news segments heavily swayed towards highlighting recovery stories, survival rates, etc? Fear based reporting, is not helping anyone.
2. Surrender to uncertainty and do not make assumptions
We don’t know the true infection rate or mortality rate at this time. The mortality rate started with estimates of 5-7% and now they’re saying it’s closer to 0.1-0.2%. For children under 18, it’s zero. Are these facts: no! We don’t know how many people are infected because so few people have been tested and the testing itself has a margin of error. Furthermore, there are reports that cause of death is being reported due to the virus even if a person hadn’t tested positive. Is this a fact? No! It’s hearsay, but goes to show even what seems like “facts” like death tolls, perhaps are not quite as black and white.
3. Build resilience through daily choices that are in alignment with greater health
Diet: Eating a whole foods based diet is essential for good health. There are no shortcuts or ways around this. And despite all the chatter on what diet is the best type, ultimately you need to figure out what diet works best for you. Practice intuitive eating, and follow what feels good for your body.
Sunshine & Fresh Air: We need this. Opt outside for at least 30 mins/day and open your windows whenever possible to allow fresh air to circulate your home. Indoor air quality is very poor. Read more about it here.
Water > alcohol, soda, juice: Water is life. Sure alcohol helps coping, I get that and am guilty of indulging a bit more than I’d like to admit in wine drinking this quarantine, but I’m not going to lie and say it’s healthy. It’s absolutely not and lowers immunity to infections, disrupts sleep, taxes your liver, amongst many other negative things.
Mindset: Stress and anxiety lower immune function. Keep stress levels down by setting boundaries with stressful humans or situations. If you are following anyone or tuning into any news source that consistently raises your stress levels, tune them out. If “being informed” raises your stress levels, you are actively lowering your immune system which puts you at greater risk.
Movement: Find something you love to do and do it often. Minimum of 3-5x/week. A 30 min walk is fine, just move that bod.
4. Curate an all-star healthcare team
Ask your friends for a referral, follow your instincts, do a Google search and/or shop around. Choosing to prioritize your health is one of the greatest investments you can make in yourself. If someone in my family were to get sick, knowing that we have access so many other modalities of care in addition to what conventional medicine has to offer brings me incredible peace of mind. I trust my body and naturopathic medicine, and I trust the doctors in my network. I have helped resolve many infections for others and know my colleagues are treating people confirmed with the virus successfully, without hospital interventions. This allows me to breathe easy. We are here for you. You don’t have to do it all on your own.
5. Be curious and compassionate.
We live in a time where we can access each other’s brains 24/7. We all get our news from different places and we all have different realities, despite many overlapping themes. Staying curious and asking good questions is really the best advice I can give someone who is wanting to find truth amidst the chaos. It’s hard to question narratives we’ve bought into our entire lives. Yet, the greatest teacher in my life has been curiosity and the ability to open my mind to ways out thinking outside of the paradigms I learned growing up.
We once thought the world was flat, but alas, we were wrong about that.
Medicine is evolving and even things that seem like facts, are often up in question. Keep searching for your truth and keep showing up with compassion for one another as we are all at different points in our journey.
Pain and suffering manifests in many different ways for people and the ones screaming to get your attention are probably experiencing a lot of personal suffering. You can listen with love and compassion and you can also be steadfast in honoring your own truth.
I’d love to see more compassion as we navigate the next phase of this journey in reopening businesses, states, etc. Please think twice before you shame someone for a choice they’ve made. Whether it be socializing during this time, sending their children to school, going back to work, choosing to stay home from work, etc, Yes, decisions others make can impact your life but at the end of the day, you can only control your actions. And if you think you should be able to control the actions of others, well that’s a whole different topic of conversation. We all have opinions, but there is no universal “wrong or right” in this uncharted territory. We are all doing our best. And we are all human.
This cube has many sides. Perhaps you are living on one side because someone you love has passed from the virus or perhaps you know no one that has been affected by the virus.
Every life matters.
Those at risk, those not at risk, those #safeathome, those being abused and NOT #safeathome, those who have lost their jobs, those not getting the care they need right now, those turning to suicide, those suffering from debilitating mental health, those thriving working from home and those doing all the puzzles. Let’s please realize this issue is complex and bring greater compassion to each day as we ride this wave together.
Thanks for listening <3