Why Community Matters | Psychology Today

Ever since Dana Beck was 13 years old, she had suffered from chronic back pain. Despite major back surgery, the doctors said she would require even more surgery and painkillers to ease her discomfort. It was a devil’s circle of pain and numbing. Later, when she moved to New York City to work at a literary agency, she became isolated, living alone without any support system. Working with celebrities such as Yoko Ono and Larry King and signing high-end book deals, her stressful job and lifestyle left little time for socializing. The little leisure time she had was spent working out at the gym, despite the searing pain she felt. To keep up, she tossed back espressos during the day and too many cocktails at night. She was close to burnout with no help in sight.

Despite her attempts to try health products and to follow the latest trends, nothing seemed to make her feel better. She soon took painkillers to manage her debilitating headaches too. She felt a sense of shame and loss, as if she had no grip on her life.  From an outside perspective, she appeared to have it altogether. She was physically fit, but emotionally a wreck. She withdrew even more from her friends and family, whom she only saw sporadically. “I was isolating myself in an effort to deal with the pain I was experiencing,” she wrote in an email exchange. “I was breaking myself to try to work and stay healthy and still have a life.” After a life-altering chat with her mom, Dana came to realize she was underfed. It turned out that poor nutrition had caused a lot of her suffering. She had a true Power of Slow moment when she saw how unkind she had been to herself all those years. Life without community, she realized, would have killed her.

She made gradual lifestyle changes, making sure that she spent time with loved ones and that she got enough sleep. “Over time, I realized that you can’t do it all,” Dana said. “And you shouldn’t have to. Finding that essential balance of treating your body well and still living your life is important.”

“It’s not some magical formula —you have to work on it every day and listen to your body,” she said. She went on to become the CEO of a wellness drink company called Drink Nutrient, which literally saved her life. As she began to concentrate more on nutrition, she found other like-minded individuals. Eventually, after much trial and error, she had found her tribe and a place to finally call home. 

Dana’s transformation started with one decision, which lead to another and another. Her Power of Slow moment pulled her out of the fast lane and onto a path of health, wellness and connection, something every one of us needs to thrive. 

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