No matter what you believe politically, you’ve felt it. We’ve been on the brink of undeniable change over the past few months, and none of us is immune from it. In fact, that change is impacting all aspects of our lives, from our mental and physical health to our relationships with ourselves and others.

For many of us, this past year has involved great stress, tension, and possibly fear. I hear it from my patients every day, from my staff, and also from my family and friends. Most days, I don’t have the answers.

I wish I did, but I can offer something else: perspective.

In part because I interact daily with so many people from so many different cross sections of life,  I see where we are as a society right now. We’re standing in the change. It’s washing around us in waves large and small. And some days, it feels like the waves are coming in so ferociously, they’re going to knock us over and drag us out to sea.

This is the hard part.

But it’s also necessary. So during this season of gratitude and reflection, I encourage you to think radically. Face the waves believing in your strength to withstand them, and be radically grateful that we live in a place where we can take a stance.

I hear my words verging on patriotism, but I personally have never considered myself a patriotic person. Throughout my life, I’ve constantly questioned and fought for what’s right for people—and often that has meant standing up against popular opinion. It’s a common fight in many systems throughout our society where social stratifications appear more prominently, from education to healthcare.

Yet, though I’ve never considered myself patriotic, all of this change happening around us—from the protests to the #metoo movement—is raising an awareness in me of not only who I am and where I stand, but who I am as an American. The past year has forced me to look inward and take stock of the good and the bad. I hope it’s done the same for you.

For too long, many of us have assumed that the major issues in our country were settled and done. Slavery and racial discrimination were closed chapters in history, women’s rights equalized to men’s. After all, that’s what the history books teach, and that’s what the statues in cities and towns across our country declare.

But do we really understand our history or what those statues mean? We’re at a point now where we have to truly face who we are and what remains unresolved for ourselves individually and the people around us collectively. We have to think about what we want for our own health and for the health of this country.

Many of us remain afraid right now, but change is happening. Be aware. People’s fear is lifting. Be grateful.

Take this time to look within yourself, and take a stance for love. Be grateful for what you have—and that you still have the strength to pave the road ahead for yourself, your loved ones, and for people you haven’t even met. Remember: We’re in this together, and the health of our society and environment directly impacts the health of our personal selves.

Happy Holidays to you and yours,

Theri Griego-Raby, MD, ABHM

"Take care of your body with steadfast fidelity. The soul must see through these eyes alone, and if they are dim, the whole world is clouded."
- Goethe