You may know Shauna Ahern as The Gluten-Free Girl, author of the award-winning food blog and cookbook series. Now, her career has gone in a different direction. After experiencing a medical crisis brought on by stress, she started looking at her life through a joy lens, removing stressors and adding more pleasure and peace. Now, it’s her mission to help others do the same. The truth is, it’s often easier to find joy when life is going well, but what if you’re in the middle of an autoimmune flare? What if you’re struggling with depression or anxiety? What if you’re in the middle of a life crisis? Is joy something we can cultivate even during our most difficult times? And what are the benefits if we learn how? These are the questions we’ll be exploring in our conversation today.
Navigating challenging emotions in a life with autoimmune disease. For more resources, see the entire mindset archives.
If you ask people with autoimmune disease to name their biggest flare triggers, stress often tops the list. And if you ask people to name their top sources of stress, many are overwhelmed by the news. Today’s podcast is a life skill building episode – one that’s very important for emotional and physical health. How do we consume the news in a way that keeps us accurately informed without becoming overwhelmed? How do we discern fake news from real news? And how do we break through feelings of powerlessness to see where we can make a difference in the world? My guest is Sharon McMahon, an expert who shares non-partisan information about news and democracy. She’s a voice of reason in unreasonable times, and I’m grateful to have her on the podcast today.
If you feel overwhelmed in the face of suffering, you aren’t weak, you’re human. If you also have autoimmune disease, you have a body that’s more sensitive to stress which means autoimmune flares might arise alongside. If you have a history of trauma (which is common for people with autoimmune disease), world traumas might feel especially intense, layered on top of your own experiences. So, overwhelm is natural, but it doesn’t have to be permanent. Here’s a step-by-side guide to feeling grounded, replenished, and able to support yourself and others again.
We all know that life is uncertain and many things are beyond our control, but that doesn’t mean we like it. The flare-based nature of autoimmune disease embodies uncertainty. When will the next flare come? Can it be prevented? How can I love my body when it’s so unpredictable? That’s health uncertainty, but there are other types of uncertainty as well – economic, political, societal. During the pandemic, we’ve been faced with all of these things at once. Now, it’s 2021, and there’s a new type of uncertainty as we approach the world opening up again. How do we balance enjoying new freedoms while continuing to make safe decisions? How do we move forward in an uncertain world? My guest is Dr. Damon Silas, a psychologist who specializes in anxiety, grief and trauma. He’ll be sharing techniques for staying grounded when the world around us shifts.
Many people with autoimmune disease struggle with anxiety as well. In this episode we talk about why that’s true, how anxiety can interfere with our lives, and share practical tips for addressing it in the moment, as well as strategies for reducing it long-term. My guest is Dr. Maureen Pierce, a health psychologist who specializes in working with people with chronic pain and chronic illness, as well as first responders.
Autoimmune flares can fill us with strong emotions alongside our physical symptoms, but did you also know that strong emotions can cause autoimmune flares? Mood boosts can be a wonderful daily practice. Not only do they help us through our darkest moments, but they also harness the anti-inflammatory power of the mind-body connection. Our goal isn’t to eliminate challenging emotions altogether; they’re part of the human experience. These techniques simply help us ride those waves with less suffering and greater health overall.
Have you ever felt butterflies in your stomach when you were nervous? Or lost your appetite when deeply grieving? We’ve all felt emotions in our gut – there’s even the common saying “gut feeling.” In fact, the more relaxed and content we feel when we eat, the better we digest our food. But did you know the gut-brain connection also goes the other way? That the food we eat can impact how our brain functions? Inflammation in the gut can result in brain fog, mood swings, and even mental health disorders. In this podcast, we talk about the science behind this connection, and how we can harness it for our health – both mental and physical. My guest is Dr. Lili Wagner, a psychologist who specializes in this intersection between diet, lifestyle, digestion, and mental health.
A Prescription for Joy might sound frivolous, but it’s actually an essential part of any healing protocol. What if it could be the key to remission? When we focus on autoimmune health, we rightly focus on things like diet, sleep, supplements and medication, but we often miss this very important piece. Life is meant to be enjoyed, even during challenging times – especially then. In this podcast, two people with autoimmune disease share their personal experience with filling this prescription, and how it helped them break through a healing plateau. I also share my own experience alongside practical tips for you.
Living with chronic illness is hard. Even when we are empowered to reclaim our health and live a vital and beautiful life, that’s not the same as a cure. It’s natural to grieve the life we had before, when life seemed easier, and our bodies were more predictable. What feelings are normal to experience? What do we do if we feel stuck or overwhelmed? In today’s podcast, we provide a roadmap for moving through anxiety, shock, fear, denial, anger, guilt, grief and shame. We also talk about what acceptance really means, and how to cultivate the strength of resilience.
Are you easily overwhelmed by bright lights and strong smells? Do you get rattled when you have a lot to do in a short amount of time? Do you make a point of avoiding violent movies and TV shows? When you were a child, did your parents or teachers see you as sensitive or shy? Then you might be a Highly Sensitive Person (HSP), along with 15-20% of the general population. My hunch is that the percentage is much higher among people with autoimmune disease. In this podcast, psychotherapist Alane Freund teaches us what this term means. And if we fall into this category, how we can reap the benefits and overcome the challenges?
Being diagnosed with autoimmune disease is overwhelming, and when we discover the healing potential of the paleo lifestyle, we can clutch it like a lifeline. It’s natural to learn all we can about ancestral diet, sleep, stress, epigenetics, the gut-brain connection, evolutionary biology, gene mutations, etc., in our efforts to heal. The question is this: When does research turn into obsession? When does it start to hurt instead of help?