Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran on the self-help conundrum and finding true healing in hard times
Be honest: how many self help books do you own? Are you reading one right now? Are you a biohacker or someone always reading the latest book on wellness? Do you actually feel any better as a result?
In our earnest quest to take care of ourselves, to live happier and more meaningful lives, it can be too easy to let others set the bar for our success. Is this a mistake? Now, we can all get caught up in this—easily. But especially right now, when we can’t begin to unpack the trauma of the last two years or when every fibre of our being wants us to just slow down, it’s easy to flip-flop between saying it’s okay to do nothing but watch The Americans with a glass of wine—and berating ourselves for not learning to crochet.
Enter Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran who recently wrote an op-ed in the Globe and Mail calling self help books the gateway drug to a trillion-dollar industry. So Allsorts host Desiree Nielsen decided she had to talk with the author, stat.
In this week’s episode, we talk about the potential dangers of biohacking and how charisma gets mistaken for integrity. Dr. Kalaichandran also talks about how her own sense of optimism wavered with the arrival of Omicron—and how we can lean on foundational aspects of wellness, (such as social connection) to find true healing.
If we had to sum this episode up in one sentence, it would be that the most powerful teacher we can access in our quest for healing is our own inner authority. We just need to use it to critically appraise the information in front of us—and to build our wellness tool kit.
Let’s dive in…
About Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran:
Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran is an epidemiologist, physician, writer, speaker and health-tech consultant. She’s a proud alumna of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the University of Toronto. She has also completed Fellowships in Integrative Medicine from the University of Arizona and Journalism from the Munk School of Global Affairs. As a contributor to the New York Times since 2017, Amitha covers a diverse range of topics, from health and wellness to medical education in publications as varying as the Washington Post, New York Magazine, Los Angeles Times, Wired and The Atlantic. Her first book, On Healing (Random House) will be published in 2023.
On this episode we chat about:
- How Dr. Kalaichandran found her path into integrative medicine
- Why it’s important for healers to prioritize their self care (ESPECIALLY during a demanding health pandemic!)
- How to build a wellness tool kit that’s reflective of our individual needs and rooted in critical thinking/science
- Why sleep hygiene, nutrition, and stress management also deserve a place in medicine
- The health benefits of social connection and the implication of community on our physical health
- How the self-help industry takes advantage of trauma survivors or the financially distressed
- Why there’s potential for danger in the tech bro biohacking phenomenon
- The fact that ostensible health leaders are essentially just glorified marketers—and HOW to discern whether or not they’re reputable…or just charismatic
- Dealing with the grief of a seemingly ongoing pandemic…and why Dr. Kalaichandran says we should allow ourselves to cry (tip: it calms our sympathetic nervous system!)
- How to create optimal environments for healing
- Why healing is not choosing between either Western medicine OR a holistic practice, like meditation, it’s both.
Learned something new? Have questions?
You can also chat about this episode in our free online community, Nutrition with Desiree by clicking here!
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Connect with Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran:
Dr. Amitha Kalaichandran’s Recommendations:
The Conspirituality podcast
Ryan Holiday’s The Obstacle is the Way