Tackling the Challenges of 2022
Helene M. Langevin, M.D.
January 21, 2022
January usually brings a feeling of fresh beginnings and diving into exciting new chapters. But with 2022 marked by a resurgence of COVID-19, I know many people have felt a painful déjà vu, especially the health care workers who are on the frontlines of the latest wave.
These current challenges give me—and I hope others—a powerful sense of how important the work of the research community is, especially as it pertains to understanding the complex and interconnected factors that affect our health. COVID is not unique in the sense that there is much to be understood about the multiple factors that drive health outcomes—from disease susceptibility and illness severity to speed of recovery and full restoration of health.
Much of what energizes me as I look at the year ahead are the efforts and accomplishments from 2021 that we can continue building on, including:
- Finalizing our 5-year strategic plan, with a focus on whole person health
- Hosting the workshop on advancing methods to support whole person research
- Advancing our research efforts on pain, including our participation in the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Helping to End Addiction Long-term® Initiative, or NIH HEAL Initiative®; hosting a workshop and identifying funding opportunities on sickle cell disease pain management; and collaborating across NIH on restoring joint health and the RE-JOIN initiative
- Convening an NIH-wide committee to support discussions and priority-setting in whole person health research
At the heart of our mission is to advance research that individuals can apply in their daily lives and use to inform good health decision making. As such, it’s been refreshing to see that, in the predictable swirl of “new you” stories or social posts focusing on detoxes, crash diets, and false promises of fast, easy paths to good health, some are pushing back. I have seen several examples of more in-depth discussion on health, like the downsides of quick fix dieting or bogus claims around “detoxing.” Discussions like these signal the value of research that can help inform more holistic approaches to nutrition, physical activity, mindfulness, stress reduction, and other interventions that that can help promote sustainable steps to health, health restoration, and resilience.
In that spirit, I’ll reshare my post from last year about the known health benefits of stretching. I know that during challenging periods, taking the time to nurture our own health is not within reach of everyone. But I hope that the coming months bring better health and that we each have the opportunity to embrace positive steps in promoting it.