Ahh, social media. On the one hand, on the other hand…. I admit completely, that social media was something I pretty much ignored before becoming an author. As an introverted person, social media felt overwhelming to me. I value one-on-one, rich, meaningful connections with other people. The amount of dialogue and diversity on the social media scene is both exhilarating and paralyzing for a person of my temperament.
However, I’ve begun to explore this relationship further and to use social media as a platform for sharing my personal passion, and message which begins with my book Eat to Beat Alzheimer’s and the discussion on nutrition and brain health. It really is incredible how many people can be reached through social media and I love how easy it is to find information and resources that could potentially make a world of difference in people’s lives. Because the internet is, to the say least, full, of information, I have looked at my own engagement online as a challenge to be as impeccable as I can with my message and my content.
For one thing, I believe it is incredibly important as a health and wellness professional to only relay information that has been tested by the rigors of good, honest, science. In other words, I aim to be as conscious as possible of the sources of nutritional science that I share and the validity and reliability of that research. I place a high standard of quality on the information I share online for folks to read and incorporate into their personal health regimen. This is an ethical standard for me, and one that I feel strongly about. I have seen all too often, in myself and others, the damage that can come about from unreliable statements regarding food, nutrition, and the body.
In social media, we are bombarded, as we are in all media forms, with messages both explicit and implicit on the way we should live, eat, look, act, say and think. My perspective on that is to say that we are looking for quality answers right now. Old ways of living are not as effective as they once were. New illnesses are on the rise that confuse and befuddle modern medicine. We are most certainly being directed to look in new directions for our wellness. Therein lies the possibility for some truth to begin to surface, and also the possibility to become misguided. Since I have decided to enter into the larger dialogue, I feel it is of the utmost importance to get good information and messages out to individuals who are looking for more answers; to promote empowerment through education so readers become active participants for their health. One of the old models that appears to be collapsing is the mindset that the doctor, or expert, knows best. Not to dismiss expertise, which is a different thing altogether, only to say here that only we can know ourselves “best.”
I want to use social media to engage with an audience who is ready to become more self-aware and self-advocating. I believe this is what is needed for optimal health in our day and age and so I use my online presence as a blend of providing relevant evidence-based information that is applicable to people, with the underlying message to include one’s self in the integrating and assessment of new knowledge and paradigms. For example, my recipes are full of nutrient dense, whole foods that also include animal products. And I would not say to a vegetarian or vegan that he or she needed to eat my recipes and give up their position on not eating animals, per se. I would suggest that they honestly self-asses, both with reflection and lab work, to check out any nutrient deficiencies. I encourage self-knowledge and understanding; what really does work for you and how that requires, from everyone regardless of diet, subtle and continuous fine-tuning.
We are dynamic, evolving beings. There are many ways that I myself continue to grow and lean into areas that feel uncomfortable to me. Social media is definitely a way that I am committed to doing this. What I have learned so far is that a dialogue about health and wellness is really exciting to me. I love the questions that come up and the concerns and the exceptional level of depth that people are bringing to this conversation. It really implies that we are collectively rewriting a narrative about what health is and what it means to be a human being.
I find it truly inspiring to see how individuals are doing their own research and putting pieces together in an effort to treat themselves, because those actions come out of a sense of self-worth and motivation. We are all catching on to the notion that we deserve health. And I don’t mean that in an entitled sense, but more like an understanding that we can really embrace our own worth and goodness and vitality no matter what the circumstances. In doing this, internally and collectively, we start to move dynamically in a direction of greater wisdom on how to do this. We move out of an arena that relies on dogmatic approaches, and into a scenario where each person’s unique health history and expression is honored and responded to accordingly. What works for one, will not work for another.
As we engage online, visually, with one another for the first time in history, I think we will inevitably see this. And while the temptation may still exist to promote one’s own idea and way of doing things to others, that we will eventually understand that as misguided enthusiasm. We will come to realize that each person has something of great value to offer and it is never about changing the next person, but it is about becoming more of who you are.
I put myself out there on social media in an effort to share this idea and while the context comes naturally to some it remains a stretch for me. However, I see this as such a rich opportunity for me to practice at the very things that are dependent on my own health: showing up and speaking up about the things I care deeply about, and putting my own passion out into the world as a way of being of service and supporting the quality of life for many.
And we do live in rich times indeed. Our relationships, in all forms, are becoming more and more visible with social media. This creates abundant opportunities for refinement of ourselves, touchpoints if you will, for how we live and show up. Of course the criticisms, the prejudices, the bullying are all still there. But they are showing up in this area where we can all see it. These things are no longer secrets like they once were. It can be disturbing, but I believe, we can use that visibility to not engage in more “wars against…” but to deeply address all the areas in our own lives where we are critical, where we have been blinded, where we might be the bully. It’s not that we are all bad, it’s just that we have all participated in one way or another. Mostly I think, we place these criticisms upon ourselves. I don’t think there is any need to analyze things too much anymore, but to just forgive.
We are becoming more visible to each other in a way that does stir up a lot of content to explore. It is important, I think, for the evolution that we are in. And it is deeply connected to our health and wellness. Wellness is very much about wholeness, and bringing back into the fold any parts that have been dismissed, disowned, or denied. Like a mother would embrace a child, we can do this within ourselves and begin to build wholeness in a very profound way. We can show up, share ourselves and feel the vulnerability of that, and we can keep going into brand new territory for humanity; this being together in a way that heals what has ailed us. Each person at a time, I think, is taking this on in their own lives. We are facing situations on every scale that seem unfaceable. But the good news is that we are looking at it all, and we are looking at each other, and ultimately I hope, we are looking at ourselves. For it is with ourselves that we can truly begin.
Social media offers us this exquisite balance to be outwardly focused and deeply within ourselves at once. As an author and a wellness counselor, I intend to participate in humanity’s new experimentation and contribute as much as I can, the best and most honest part of myself. In hopes that it may be inspiring and encouraging to others, and that it may continue to refine me, as a speaker and a researcher and as a human being.
This article originally appeared on Ava Louise.
Francie Healey is the author of "Eat To Beat Alzheimer's and has a Master’s Degree in Counseling and is both a Certified Health Counselor and Licensed Mental Health Counselor.practitioner.