Our imagination is powerful, because our brain responds to imaginary experiences very similarly to real-life experiences. If we’re spinning worst case scenarios in our mind, that triggers a very real stress response in our body. Positive visualizations do the opposite. Not only do they interrupt the stress response, but research shows they can help reduce anxiety, improve performance, increase mobility, and manage pain. In this 8 minute episode, I share a simple technique for using positive visualization to soothe autoimmune symptoms.
+ Mindset Podcasts
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Many of us love to help others and also love to please others, which can make it hard to say no. The trouble is that there are limited hours in the day, and we can’t do everything. When we have autoimmune disease, learning to set limits is essential to our health. Sometimes we forget that when we say yes to everyone else, we’re saying no to ourselves. Eventually, our body might say no for us in the form of an autoimmune flare. None of us wants that. In today’s mindset minisode, I’m going to share some beginner tips for saying no. I’ll also share a technique that can help you identify your priorities so that you say yes to what matters most, and say no to the things that keep you from those priorities.
The onset of autoimmune disease is a before and after moment for many of us. We feel like a completely different person, not just in our bodies but in our lives. Jobs and interests that were big parts of our identity might no longer be available to us. The roles we play in our families may change. It can feel like we’ve lost who we used to be and we don’t recognize ourselves anymore. In this 6 minute podcast, I talk about the stages of this type of identity crisis, along with a technique to help you through it.
When our mind convinces us something is impossible before we’ve even tried, that’s a self-limiting belief. It’s common for autoimmune disease to trigger them. Googling your diagnosis can lead to scary visions of the future. Symptoms can dramatically change our lives, taking away activities we used to love. With the flare-based, unpredictable nature of autoimmunity, life becomes more uncertain. The brain feels safer with certainty, so when it’s possible you might fail, your brain may convince you not to try. The problem is that this keeps your life smaller than it needs to be, not only cutting you off from failure but also success. We don’t need perfect health to live a fuller life. We can expand our skills, activities, accomplishments, and relationships, and we can start with small steps. We may not be able to do everything, but we can do some things. The key to overcoming self-limiting beliefs is to focus on progress and possibilities, not perfection. Life isn’t an all-or-nothing game. In today’s mindset minisode, I share a simple technique from my book, Healing Mindset, to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, and take the first steps to overcoming them.
One of the fastest ways to tap the relaxation response is to tune into our senses. It immerses us in the present moment, offering a break from our worries, and gives us the space to simply be. It’s available to us anywhere, anytime, and it only takes a minute. You can do it for longer, but even a brief pause is beneficial. In this 9 minute episode, I share some of my favorite ways to tune into the senses.
We spend a lot of time on social media without necessarily noticing how it’s impacting our mental, emotional, and physical health. Social media has both benefits and potential risks. Many people with autoimmune disease find like-minded souls on social media who may understand their experience better than nearby family and friends. However, social media is also linked to increases in anxiety, depression, eating disorders, loneliness, insomnia, brain fog, and more. So, what do we do? In this short podcast, learn a simple technique that allows you to see how social media is impacting you, and curate your experience accordingly.
Our brains have a negativity bias – paying more attention to what’s wrong than what’s right. It’s not uncommon to have a silent soundtrack in the back of our minds, playing our worries and grievances on repeat. This is especially true when we have a chronic illness. Learning to recognize and question negative thoughts is a powerful skill to have. In today’s mindset minisode, I teach how to overcome negative thoughts during autoimmune flares, and replace them with helpful thoughts instead.
Can we befriend a body in pain? With autoimmune disease, we’ve been told that our body is attacking us which sets up war imagery in our minds. Yet our bodies are our home. So, when we get furious with our bodies, and hate our bodies, all of the furious energy gets directed toward ourselves. It’s understandable to feel this way when we are suffering, but there’s a parallel here that’s interesting to consider. We want our body to stop attacking itself. Are we willing to do the same, mentally and emotionally? In today’s mindset minisode, I share a simple but powerful technique that can be a first step to befriending your body.
Emotions are part of the human experience, and when life is hard, challenging emotions often arise alongside – feelings like grief, anger, anxiety, resentment, guilt, and shame. They’re not fun to feel, and sometimes they can be overwhelming. Many of us try to ignore or run away from these emotions, but research shows that suppressed emotions don’t go away. They get stronger. They can also come out sideways in the form of physical symptoms, addictive behaviors, or lashing out at others. If we want to live a healthy life with autoimmune disease, we need to find a way to feel all of our emotions, including the challenging ones. In this 10 minute podcast, I share a technique designed to do just that. It can take you from overwhelm to calm in just a few minutes.
With autoimmune disease, we often have a complex relationship with our bodies. When we hear that our immune system is attacking us, it can feel like a war within. It’s common to feel angry with our bodies and disassociate from our bodies, and yet our bodies are our home. We cannot leave them behind. So, today I’m sharing a special body scan meditation, led by me! It’s designed to help us reconnect with our bodies in a gentle and loving way. This is one my favorite forms of meditation and is incredibly soothing to me on a daily basis, but especially during an autoimmune flare.
Something new is coming to the Phoenix Helix Podcast. Mindset Minisodes! The long-form interviews you know and love will continue every 4 weeks. In between, I’ll be sharing practical techniques from my book, Healing Mindset – A Guide to the Mind-Body Connection for People With Autoimmune Disease. Today, we’re starting with gratitude. I know that’s an emotion that’s hard to feel when we’re suffering, yet it’s on our toughest days that we need gratitude the most. It can shine a light into our darkness like a lifeline. In this episode, I teach a simple technique with powerful results.
Life with chronic illness can inspire strong emotions that trigger emotional eating. If the foods chosen are inflammatory, autoimmune flares may follow, turning short-term comfort into longer-lasting pain. This often leads to feelings of shame, guilt, and self-judgment, which can drive more emotional eating, creating a vicious cycle. If you find yourself caught in this pattern, you aren’t alone. Today’s podcast is designed to help. My guest is Tomesha Campbell. She is a fellow autoimmune warrior, as well as an AIP certified coach who specializes in Intuitive Eating. She’ll be sharing her personal experience and professional advice.
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.
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.
When you have autoimmune disease, it’s common to feel disconnected from your body and even betrayed by your body. Yet we live in our bodies, so this creates a complicated relationship with ourselves. Instead of self-love, we might end up feeling self-hate. How can we change that? How does self-love, or the lack of self-love, impact our wellbeing, both mentally and physically? My guest today is Dr. Shainna Ali, a mental health counselor, educator, and advocate. She is also the author of the Self-Love Workbook series. They are practical guides with concrete action steps. They go beyond a misty view of self-love and teach skills we can apply in our daily lives.
Today we have a very special episode. I’m celebrating the publication of my new book: Healing Mindset. It’s a guide to the mind-body connection for people with autoimmune disease. The mind-body connection isn’t just an idea. There’s an entire field of science called psychoneuroimmunology that studies this connection. How we feel in our body affects how we feel in our minds, and our thoughts and feelings impact our physical health. Today, we’ll be talking about specific mind-body techniques, science-based benefits, and how to harness this connection for autoimmune health. My partner for this episode is Donna Jackson Nakazawa. Many of you know her as one of my most popular podcast guests. She’s an award-winning science journalist, author of 7 books, a fellow autoimmune warrior, and an expert on the mind-body connection. Today, we’re trading places. She will be the host and I will be the guest!
Before autoimmune disease, did you have a yoga practice that you loved but can no longer do? Do you struggle to find a way to adapt your practice to your ever-changing autoimmune body? Do you miss yoga and want to make it part of your life again? Or maybe you have never practiced yoga, but would love to try and don’t know where to begin. This podcast is for you! My guest is Jivana Heyman, founder and director of the Accessible Yoga Association and co-founder of the Accessible Yoga Training School. He has over 25 years of experience teaching yoga to people of diverse abilities. In this episode, we’re going to troubleshoot a wide variety of autoimmune symptoms and talk about how to develop a personalized yoga practice.
This is one of the most popular podcast episodes – for good reason! If you think you can’t meditate, this podcast is for you. Do you picture meditators sitting quietly with completely empty minds – something you could never do? Let me tell you a secret: those people don’t exist. Even the Dalai Lama has thoughts while he meditates. The mind is designed to think just like the heart is designed to beat. Meditation isn’t about stopping thoughts; it’s learning how to notice and detach from them. There are also many different ways to meditate, including moving meditations, or cultivating mindful moments in everyday life. My guest is Jeff Warren, who is known as the “MacGyver of Meditation”. He excels at fixing people’s meditation problems. In this episode, we talk about common meditation obstacles for people with autoimmune disease, and how to overcome them.
When you first experience the connection between the food you eat and how you feel, that can be an empowering moment. But when certain foods cause you to flare, that can also inspire a fear of food. This is a natural reaction, but it also has consequences. The fear itself can cause autoimmune flares and also increase food sensitivity, creating a vicious cycle. Suddenly, all food feels dangerous, and we over-restrict our diets, which harms our health long-term. There is good news! We can overcome food fear, replacing it with a deep knowledge about our bodies and enjoy eating again. That’s our goal with our conversation today. My guests are fellow autoimmune warriors, Nitika Chopra and Alison Marras. We share our own experiences with food fear and tips for overcoming it.
Human beings depend on each other. Sometimes we give help, and sometimes we receive it, but many of us are much more comfortable in the giving role. Autoimmune disease can turn the tables quickly. Suddenly, we’re in a position where we need help more often. If we were the caregivers before, how do we navigate this change in identity? How do we face the fears that may arise – of vulnerability, feeling weak, being seen as a burden, or people saying no? If you took pride in your independence, do you feel shame if you need help? There are gifts that come with learning to receive: a deeper intimacy in relationships, a greater sense of self-compassion, a more expansive sense of identity, and a stronger connection with humanity. But that doesn’t mean it’s an easy transformation. My guest is Kalene Khan, a licensed therapist who specializes in self-compassion. She helps people learn to be as kind to themselves as they are to others. She is our guide for this conversation today.
One thing I love about the autoimmune community in general and the Phoenix Helix community specifically is that we care deeply about each other. We lift each other up, with the goal of living our healthiest and happiest lives. Health involves both self-care and community care, and today’s podcast is a blend of the two. I’ve talked about the impact of racism in two prior podcasts. Episode 153 focused on racism in healthcare. Episode 178 focused on racial trauma. In both episodes I mentioned that overcoming our own unconscious biases can be a powerful first step in helping overcome racism within our society. There is much beyond our control, but this is something we can change. We’re approaching this conversation with love rather than judgment. My guest is Anu Gupta. He’s developed a compassion-based, scientific approach to overcoming bias and addressing the root causes of racism and other inequalities within our culture. He is a research scientist and educator, and simply a warm, wise and wonderful person.
With an autoimmune diagnosis, we are told that we have a disease for which there is no cure. It can be shocking and immediately change how we see ourselves. It’s not uncommon to feel betrayed by our bodies. Symptoms can also dramatically change our abilities, impacting careers, hobbies, and roles within families. Many of us go through an identity crisis – no longer feeling like the person we were before. Then there’s the impact of having a visible vs. invisible illness. Some autoimmune diseases change our physical appearance and how others interact with us. Whereas others have symptoms that are hidden, often inspiring disbelief in the pain that can’t be seen. Today, four people with autoimmune disease (including myself) share our experiences with how our body image has changed since diagnosis
People with a history of trauma are more likely to develop autoimmune disease and to experience more severe symptoms as well. In today’s podcast, we’re focusing on racial trauma. One of the ways it’s unique is that it’s ongoing. It’s not an event from the past that is now over. It’s something experienced repeatedly in unpredictable ways. Over the past year, a number of listeners have reached out to me to share their experiences. Racial trauma isn’t new, but it has been amplified during the pandemic. Our goal with this episode is to help anyone navigating the double challenge of autoimmune disease and race-based trauma. My guest is Dr. Letitia Browne-James. She’s a mental health counselor and educator with expertise in trauma, multi-cultural counseling, and the intersection of mental and physical health.
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.
Releasing a burden we’ve been carrying too long can lighten both body and soul. Yet this can be one of the hardest things to do, even when we want to do it. Why is letting go so hard? Are there things we can do to make it easier? In this episode, we talk about fostering a letting go mindset, goals for letting go, techniques for doing that successfully, and knowing when NOT to let go. My guest is Courtney Carver, the woman behind the website Be More with Less and the author of the book Soulful Simplicity. She’s one of the leading voices in the minimalist community, but today we’re not talking about letting go of material things. Courtney has a lot of wisdom to share about letting go in general.