+ Lifestyle Articles

The choices we make every day can have a huge impact on autoimmune health. Below you’ll find multiple ways to foster an anti-inflammatory lifestyle. If you’re an audio learner, I have a great podcast as well. If you’re not sure where to begin, start here.

Curving pathway through the trees

10 Tips for Effective Habit Change for People with Autoimmune Disease

When it comes to improving autoimmune health, cultivating positive habits is key. But sometimes it feels like bad habits are easy to keep and good habits are easy to break. What’s the secret to creating new habits that last? In this article, I share 10 tips to set you up for success!

woman relaxing on couch and savoring a cup of tea

10 Ways To Rest

No matter the diagnosis, fatigue is a common symptom of autoimmune disease. Many of us try to ignore that feeling and “push through” because we all have things we want to accomplish in our days. We might also fear that if we stop to rest, we’ll never be able to get moving again. However, rest isn’t optional. If we never take a break, our bodies will take that decision out of our hands in the form of illness or an autoimmune flare. In this article, I share 10 simple ways to rest. Even small breaks can be rejuvenating and restorative, supporting our health not just in the moment, but also long-term. Choose one of these as a gift to yourself today.

demo of low pressure fitness exercise - athena

Low Pressure Fitness for Autoimmune Disease

I have an exercise series on my website to help people with autoimmune disease find forms of fitness that work well for your body. That can be challenging! Today, I’m featuring Low Pressure Fitness. It’s designed to help you gain strength and mobility while relaxing your nervous system at the same time — three things we could all use! It can also improve both gut and pelvic health. In this article, Dr. Jenna Cornell describes the foundational principles of Low Pressure Fitness, the many benefits, and shares three sample exercises that you can try today!

collage photo of the 8 dancers featured in the article: dance and autoimmune disease

Dance and Autoimmune Disease

There are many science-backed benefits into the positive power of dance for autoimmune disease: improved mobility, reduced pain, reduced anxiety and depression, improved body image, and better quality of life. That said, if you’re living with chronic illness and chronic pain, dance poses challenges. If your body has changed with autoimmune disease, can you still dance? On hard days, can dancing make your day better? The eight people featured in this article answer a resounding yes to both of those questions. They each share what dancing means to them, and how they adapt dance around their autoimmune symptoms. They also share videos showing their joy in dancing.

3 Ways to Move Your Lymph

Lymph is essential to our body’s ability to detoxify, reduce inflammation, and fight infection. Supporting the lymphatic system can benefit anyone’s health, but it’s especially important for those of us with autoimmune disease. Chronic inflammation puts an extra burden on this system and can even damage it long-term, reducing its efficiency. In a prior career, I was a lymph drainage therapist for 15 years. Most of my clients were people with chronic illness. As someone with rheumatoid arthritis myself, it’s one of my favorite self-care techniques.

The MSing Link Logo - exercise for MS

The MSing Link: Exercise for Multiple Sclerosis

When it comes to MS, muscle weakness isn’t the cause of weak muscles or difficulty walking. The cause is weakness in the neural pathways from demyelination. The MSing Link is an online exercise program created by Dr. Gretchen Hawley, a Doctor of Physical Therapy and MS Certified Specialist. Every exercise in her program is designed to strengthen your muscles AND your neural pathways at the same time. In this article, Dr. Gretchen shares three sample exercises that you can try today!

image of sneaker and kettlebell with the words: thyroid strong

Thyroid Strong: Strength Training for Hashimoto’s

Dr. Emily Kiberd is a chiropractor with Hashimoto’s who created a strength training program for her fellow Hashi warriors. Joint pain, extreme fatigue, and weight gain are common symptoms, which can make exercise challenging. Many people choose gentle forms of exercise that don’t strain the body further, but this can lead to a loss of muscle mass. Muscle is the body’s metabolic engine. The more muscle you have, the more calories you burn at rest. Muscle is also the largest endocrine organ in the body, so contracting muscle tissue has been shown to help with the turnover of thyroid hormones. This is why Dr. Kiberd created Thyroid Strong, a special exercise program designed to help women with Hashimoto’s safely regain strength, boost their energy, and alleviate pain at the same time.

Maggie Rintala demonstrates a DNS exercise

DNS Exercises for Autoimmune Disease

DNS stands for Dynamic Neuromuscular Stabilization. It’s a fascinating form of exercise that uses positions and movements associated with infant development to help people heal from a variety of physical issues. With autoimmune disease, it can be hard to find forms of exercise that support our body’s changing needs. DNS can be modified for everyone. This article is written by Maggie Rintala, a fellow autoimmune warrior and certified personal trainer who specializes in DNS. She demonstrates three sample exercises, along with resources for learning more.

a set of varied antique spoons

The Spoon Theory of Autoimmune Disease & How To Get More Spoons

Have you heard of the Spoon Theory? It’s a way to explain chronic illness to people who don’t understand, and I love that aspect of it. (The spoons represent daily energy). But the Spoon Theory also assumes we can never get more spoons. I don’t believe that’s true. In this article, I share the history of the spoon theory and how we can all get more spoons!

31 Days of Holiday Self-Care

Some people love the holiday season; others approach it with a sense of dread. Either way, it tends to be a busy time with extra stress, obligations, food temptations, and travel. This can be a recipe for an autoimmune flare, but it doesn’t have to be! I’ve made a list of one simple thing to do each day throughout the month of December. At the bottom of the post, there’s a printable PDF that you can post on your fridge. Happy Holidays!

Woman lying in bed with hands over face, clock says 3:41am

Advanced Sleep Troubleshooting for Autoimmune Disease

Autoimmune disease often causes insomnia, and then poor sleep increases autoimmune flares, creating a vicious cycle. In this article, I tackle some of the biggest sleep challenges: pain, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, snoring, hormones, blood sugar imbalances, new parenthood, and more. I also review sleep trackers, sleep supplements, and a special form of therapy that’s more effective than sleeping pills in resolving insomnia.

101 Ways to Treat Yourself That Have Nothing to Do with Food

Most often, if you say the word “treat” people immediately think of sweets. It’s how we reward ourselves for our achievements, and it’s how we soothe ourselves when life is hard. There’s nothing wrong with the occasional sweet treat. They’re delicious! However, if sweets are the only way we treat ourselves, the excess sugar can increase inflammation and even kick off an autoimmune flare. So, I’ve come up with 101 alternate ways to treat ourselves. Thanks to the mind-body connection, these treats can actually decrease inflammation while simultaneously bringing more joy to our lives. That’s my kind of to-do list! I even included a PDF you can print and put on your fridge, for ongoing inspiration!

plugin air freshener with green liquid inside

Do Air Fresheners Pollute Indoor Air?

If you’re someone who unplugs air fresheners anytime you see them, this article will resonate with you. If you’re someone who loves air fresheners and didn’t realize they might be harming your health, this article may surprise you. “Fragrance” isn’t a single ingredient. It’s a chemical formula that can contain up to 100 different chemicals. Many of them are harmful to health, and there is no regulation of this industry. In fact, since fragrance is considered a “trade secret”, the chemicals aren’t listed on the ingredient labels. In this article, I dive deeply into the science and share tips for naturally freshening indoor air instead.

Footprints of a Woman and a Dog on Sand

Can Pets Support Autoimmune Health?

I asked this question of my fellow autoimmune warriors, and their answer was a resounding yes! In this post, I share beautiful photos of people with their pets, alongside their testimonials. I also dive into the research and share what science says about the potential health benefits. In balance, I also honor that there are times when pets aren’t the right choice and I share those circumstances, too.

5 Tips for Non-Toxic Dental Care

Is there Teflon in your dental floss? Toxins in your toothpaste? When it comes to toothbrushes, what’s the best choice? How about oil pulling – does it work? How does nutrition affect oral health? I dive into the research to answer these questions!

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety, Insomnia, and Fatigue | Phoenix Helix

Breathing Techniques for Anxiety, Insomnia, and Fatigue

Have you noticed that if you pause and take a slow, deep breath, you feel a little bit calmer? Deep breathing taps the relaxation response. For people with autoimmune disease, this is an amazing power at our fingertips, since stress is a common trigger of autoimmune flares. In this blog post, I share four of my favorite deep breathing techniques. You can use them as “medicine in the moment” to alleviate your anxiety, give you an energy boost during the day, or help you fall asleep at night. You can also make deep breathing a daily practice. Just a few minutes can make a big difference.

Low-Power Mode: Self-Care During Challenging Times | Phoenix Helix

Low-Power Mode: Self-Care During Challenging Times

iPhones automatically shift into low-power mode when their batteries get low. The goal is to conserve energy. There are times in life when our body and soul ask us to do the same. It’s about letting nonessential responsibilities go, and focusing our limited energy on what’s most important. In this blog post I share my recent experience doing this, and give you tips to do the same.

woman walking on a beach with footsteps in the sand behind her

10 Baby Steps Toward Autoimmune Health

When you first start thinking of making diet and lifestyle changes to improve your health, it can be pretty overwhelming. There are so many things that can drive inflammation, there are almost countless interventions to try. This blog post is for anyone who needs tiny steps to get started. There’s no shame in that! Baby steps are cumulative and can lead to huge improvements over time. It’s all about taking that first step. You don’t have to do this whole list at once, either. Choose one action step today.

Araza Certified Paleo Makeup Review

Have you heard of Araza Natural Beauty? They’re the only certified paleo makeup brand. Non-toxic skincare is an important component in autoimmune health, and makeup often contains some of the most toxic ingredients. Our skin actually absorbs what we put on it, so this matters. Unfortunately, truly natural makeup often has a reputation for not working well. So, I asked my friend Christina to put this makeup to the test. As a former makeup artist, her standards are high! Read her expert review and enter the giveaway to get a chance to sample it yourself.

What Is Paleo Skincare?

We are so careful what we put on our babies’ skin. We intuitively know they are precious and pure, and we don’t want to risk exposing them to any harm. Why does that care disappear as we get older? The truth is that our skin is porous at every age, and what we put on our skin absorbs into our bloodstream. We need to read the labels of our skincare products, the same way we read the labels on food. In this blog post, I talk about the current lack of regulation in the cosmetics industry and share where we can find truthful information on what our personal care products contain. I also share the top 10 ingredients to avoid, and the 3 paleo skincare companies I love.

Is Massage Therapy Beneficial for People with Autoimmune Disease?

One thing you may not know about me is that I worked as a therapeutic bodyworker for 15 years. In this article, I share the research into massage for autoimmune disease, describe a wide variety of techniques to choose from, share my best advice for finding a skilled practitioner, and also how to make sure your session helps rather than harms your health.

4 people with their arms around each other, arms raised

How Do I Get the Support of Family and Friends?

Harnessing diet and lifestyle to improve autoimmune health is something no one can do for us. Yet, we don’t walk this world alone. We’re surrounded by friends, family and co-workers who are powerful influences on our lives. It’s a lot easier to stay on the healing path if we’re supported by those people, rather than thwarted by them. So, how do we get that support? In this blog post, I share my 10 best tips.

Can Skipping Sleep Cause an Autoimmune Flare?

Can Skipping Sleep Cause an Autoimmune Flare?

How many of us try to squeeze extra time out of the day, by staying up late or getting up early? We sacrifice sleep, because in our modern culture, we don’t value it. We consider it unproductive time, but we’re wrong. When it comes to reversing autoimmune disease, sleep is as important to our health as diet, and it might be the key (or the obstacle) to remission. Research also shows that we can’t “catch up” on sleep over the weekend. It feels like we can, because we’re less tired after a couple of good nights’ sleep, but on a cellular level we haven’t recovered. In today’s post, I share the research along with tips for how to sleep well and long.

5 Ways to Reverse Autoimmunity That Have Nothing To Do With Food

When we follow the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, food is foremost in our mind. We avoid the foods that exacerbate autoimmune disease and eat the foods that help us heal. The right food is essential, but healing is about more than just food. Lifestyle affects autoimmunity just as strongly. Here are 5 ways to tap your body’s full healing potential.

How to Keep a Symptom Journal…and Other Journals, Too!

It’s a fact of human nature that we tend to notice what’s wrong, more than we notice what’s right. This blog post is about the power of writing things down, and how that can affect our awareness, our choices, and our mindset. I share tips for keeping 3 kinds of journals: a symptom journal, a gratitude journal, and a let-it-out journal.

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