Serenity in an Age of Anxiety

Peeking behind the curtain    I am a clinical nutritionist that specializes in complex cases. The average patient who contacts me has consulted 4 or 5 medical practitioners and specialists already. This usually means the patient is stuck or has heard about and wants to explore targeted nutrition therapy. Nutrition therapy can succeed when drugs or standard medical treatment fail, though the lifestyle changes required are not always easy.


You may wonder what a nutritionist is doing writing a blog about alternative ways of dealing with anxiety:  Ways that rarely include nutrition strategies.  In this installation, I peel back the fourth wall and reveal the back story and thinking behind this blog.


When I started using nutrition changes and supplements to help those with complex medical cases, I knew I found my calling.  People recovered their health and seemed happier. Several patients even became nutritionists after experiencing the power of balanced biochemistry. There are always people who do not respond well to or like my suggestions. Failure can be discouraging, but I am realistic and work hard to get the best results possible. But over time, something seemed to be missing. I felt unsettled but did not know why.  Something was not quite right.


I grappled with burn-out and overwork, learned how not to be a wounded healer and rarely get defensive or take things personally. There is so much exciting research and theories to soak up and soak I do from a wide variety of related fields including neurobiology, social psychology and quantum physics.  Stimulation or interesting information is not what is missing.


Finally, I discovered what was bothering me. Nothing lasted. People who were thrilled when they cured one set of symptoms would inevitably develop a new ailment down the road. I wondered if anything I, or anyone else, accomplished meant anything in the long run. I understood the Buddhist idea of impermanence. There will always be problems. Life constantly changes. Still I thought what I did and better health meant something. Suddenly, I was not  sure.


The right diet and supplements create temporary happiness, but inevitably, patients move on to the next ailment or practitioner. Though bad health is an obstacle to happiness for most, the sickest people are not necessarily the most miserable. Some of them are inexplicably content.


A therapist once told me that if a couple had sexual problems, it accounted for 80% of the relationship dissatisfaction. If the sex life was fine, then its contribution to relationship satisfaction was only 10 or 20%. I concluded the same explanation applied to health. When bad, people think most of their discontent is due to poor health. When health is good, it becomes one of many factors contributing to happiness. Good health supports peace of mind but does not make people happy. I noticed when anxiety was added to the equation, general good health helped hardly at all.

The number of patients I see with anxiety as their chief concern continues to rise rapidly. Vibrant health, while wonderful, does not make people feel loved, safe or connected. Connection and peace of mind, I noticed are the missing factors for long lasting happiness and from my work. They are what people, including myself, need or our bodies can become a source of ongoing distraction. We think our bodies are making us unhappy and if only we could fix them all would be well. But it is the mind that makes us unhappy and anxious. In addition to the brain, I decided I had to start addressing the mind.


Next time: Don’t Believe Everything You Think- Breaking the Fourth Wall Part 2

Post #23


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