In this moment, our world is awash in information. Electronic connections are lit up brighter than ever before! In times like these, we endlessly seek certainty, and finding little, we try to quell our anxiety with more data. More opinions. More binge-watching. News, statistics, speculation, regulatory updates, more news, fear-mongering, political finger-pointing, conspiracy theories, yet more news. The sympathetic nervous system doing what it does best: Vigilance!
As a discerning, passionate practitioner, you may (I hope) be taking good care of yourself and avoiding these traps. But I know the current tide of information for you also includes big waves of clinical, technical, and epidemiological details. Cases, early study results, theories, interviews, summits… Gut receptors, glutathione support, nutrients, repurposed drugs, ventilator tribal knowledge, probiotics, secondary infectious trends, and so much more. I am grateful to everyone who is helping to put these puzzle pieces together.
Today, I want to share a powerful message, however, that I Doubt you are hearing. One I believe you can count on being certain. It’s about what follows on the back side of the pandemic peak.
We need to Be ready. Disease will escalate. And alongside it, the opportunity of a lifetime for your leadership!
My heart goes out to everyone experiencing loss of health or loss of loved ones in this pandemic. I am also grateful to all of you who are valiantly serving in primary or acute care roles. My use of the word “inspiring” to describe these days may sound surprising to you. I say this with a keen focus on our future service and the realities that lie on the other side of this pandemic peak, this stark awakening. I see two truths emerging already:
#1 More disease, worse disease.
In the wake of the pandemic, all the other chronic disease epidemics we have been countering for years will need You and your expertise more now than any other time in the past 20 years. Even if they avoided viral illness entirely, for people soaked in a sympathetic-dominant staycation, with continuous stress, perhaps soothed with junk food, alcohol, caffeine, acute media exposure, and less sleep, it’s unlikely that many people will exit this pandemic with their underlying disease processes having improved behind the scenes.
For the people we serve in our practices, their experience *during* the pandemic will have dramatically changed Who they are *afterward*. Some will have experienced alarming infection (whether it was a novel virus at the root or not). Nearly all experienced dramatic fear and sustained stress. But people have also lost jobs. Have lost financial security. Have lost confidence in their future. Perhaps most harmful of all, we will be left with a fresh scar of vulnerability. These are new pieces being added to each individual’s disease puzzle.
Underneath it all, as we well know, their biochemistry has changed. We are seeing this already… Blood sugar control and hypertension aggravated by cortisol and adrenaline. More autoimmune flares and secondary AI activations. More anxiety and depression. More hypothyroid and maldigestion and nutrient deficiencies. Dynamics that promote disease that may have nothing to do with a virus.
#2 More opportunity, more healing. IF you are ready.
The demand for functional medicine expertise will soar like never before. Over time as we understand the pandemic more clearly, we will go back to some (new) normalcy. Fear will recede. However, in its place we will be left with a sustained sense of vulnerability that will indeed promote disease. However, that same vulnerability in the end is going to fuel health care transformation. There is already a growing, sobering realization spreading that we are more vulnerable to illness than we assumed – illness that you can’t just take a pill to fix or get a shot to prevent. Illness that affects some people dramatically and others not at all. More people will be motivated to create sustainable health that proactively keeps them well and safer.
We are being shoved out of our assumed perceptions of health and safety into a world of vulnerability and questioning. We see this already… People have more time on their hands, and they are looking for you online. How can I protect myself? Why do many get the virus but don’t suffer? How can I not get sick? How can I be confident I will stay well? Who can partner with me and show me the way? The impetus we collectively take from this jarring pandemic can transform our ability to reverse the chronic, lifestyle disease epidemics we already had. But only if we are Ready.
When we humans feel uncertain, we have the tendency to retract. To step back. To cancel, withdraw, close, or put important things in TBD status. If you are feeling this, I encourage you to take a deep breath and steady yourself. Then actually step forward, leaning in to your passion and the leadership opportunity at hand. Please prepare yourself now for the higher demand for your unique skills ahead.
We need you to be on the forefront of this aftershock, not lagging it. Our mission needs our entire practitioner family to be confident, competent and Ready to serve patients and clients through the functional medicine lens. Success is when opportunity meets preparedness. Here at SAFM, we are stepping forward, more committed to supporting you than ever before.
During times of downturn, the companies we admire – the pioneers who change things – don’t step backward like everyone else is doing; they step forward. With vision, awareness, and determination to pursue what matters most.
Today’s challenges will leave us the gifts of greater resiliency and massive opportunity. Let’s seize them together!
P.S. Our recent special video, Important Practitioner Priorities for the Pandemic, is one I don’t want you to miss. Please catch it here if you couldn’t join us live. It features some messages that you might Not be hearing.