We hear a lot about the mind-body connection, but what are its uses and what are its limits? Are there techniques we can use to minimize pain and manage it better? How does the stress response increase pain’s intensity? How does guarding against pain add a second layer of tension that can make pain worse? Vidyamala Burch has lived with chronic pain for over 40 years. Learning how to survive and thrive started as a personal goal and later became her professional mission. She’s an author, educator, and cofounder of Breathworks, a non-profit organization that teaches Mindfulness-Based Pain Management to individuals and organizations around the world.
+ Mindset Podcasts
Podcasts are such a wonderful way to learn! You can listen while doing other things like cooking, cleaning, going for a walk, or just enjoying a cup of tea on the sofa. If you like what you hear, subscribe to the Phoenix Helix Podcast through your favorite podcast app: iTunes, Stitcher, Google, TuneIn, Spotify, Amazon, etc.
Many people think of the AIP as simply a list of foods you can and can’t eat, so how can intuition play a role? And if your intuition tells you to eat junk food, that derails health goals rather than supports them, right? So, how can these things possibly go together? In this podcast episode, we bust some myths about both of these dietary philosophies and see how they might be blended for autoimmune health.
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.
Flares are one of the scariest parts of autoimmune disease. They’re unpredictable, often very painful, sometimes disabling, and always disruptive to our plans. In this episode, three autoimmune warriors share their best tips for making it through autoimmune flares with strength and self-compassion. We talk about favorite foods, lifestyle hacks, mindset techniques, and more.
If the placebo effect taps into our body’s natural healing capability, and the nocebo effect can turn fear into physical symptoms, these are things we need to understand. In this podcast we dive into the research to try to make sense of one of the human body’s great mysteries. My guest is science journalist Erik Vance, author of the book Suggestible You.
What’s the line between a healing diet and a harmful one? Orthorexia is a term that was first coined in the late 1990’s by Dr. Steven Bratman. It refers to an obsessive focus on healthy eating that becomes clinically impairing. This idea has become controversial in the paleo autoimmune community. Does a healing diet automatically set you up for orthorexia? What does it mean to eat in a way that supports your health? And what does it look like when this goal becomes unhealthy? My guest is Imei Hsu. She’s a registered nurse and clinical psychotherapist, and eating disorders are one of her specialties. She also has autoimmune disease herself as well as food allergies.
This is one of my favorite podcast episodes! How does mindset impact nutrition and food tolerance? At its most basic level, food is sustenance. It fuels us for life. But food is more than just a source of energy. Emotions surround the experience of eating as well. Food can comfort and bring joy, yet it can also inspire feelings of guilt. People also connect with each other over food, building memories, traditions, and even identities. And when you’re following a healing diet, there’s gratitude for food being medicine, often combined with feelings of deprivation, rebellion and grief. It’s complex! Here’s the fascinating part you might not realize: Not only does food inspire emotion, but emotions impact our ability to digest our food, including how well we tolerate foods. That’s the subject of our podcast today.
There’s some compelling research that suggests the inability to forgive leads to negative health consequences, and the practice of forgiveness can have health benefits. When it comes to small injustices, this seems relatively easy to do. But what if you have experienced something that you find unforgivable? Is forgiveness a requirement for healing? The pressure to forgive can feel like getting re-victimized all over again. In this podcast, we take a deep look at this topic. My guest is clinical psychologist and bestselling author, Dr. Harriet Lerner.
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.
When I was at rock bottom with rheumatoid arthritis and experiencing excruciating pain on a daily basis, I started keeping a gratitude journal. That might seem like a strange time do this, but I deeply needed to focus on something beyond the pain and suffering that had become my entire world. And it helped! It didn’t alleviate my pain, but it did reduce my suffering, because it helped me remember there were still good things in my life. It turns out I’m not alone in feeling these benefits. Research is showing that gratitude can improve both mental and physical health. In this podcast, my guest is Dr. Fuschia Sirois, an expert in the field of gratitude and chronic illness. We discuss the research, alongside practical steps for making gratitude part of our daily lives.
There’s a strong link between trauma and autoimmunity. People who are diagnosed with a stress-related disorder like PTSD are 30-40% more likely to be diagnosed with autoimmune disease. Childhood trauma has an even bigger impact. And the shock of an autoimmune diagnosis combined with life-changing symptoms can qualify as a trauma itself. When it comes to maximizing our health, being aware of this connection is important. Thankfully, there are trauma therapies that can help rebuild our health resilience. My guest is Dr. Maureen Pierce, a health psychologist who specializes in working with people with chronic pain and chronic illness. Not surprisingly, she’s a trauma specialist as well.
We all find ourselves in victim mode once in a while, especially when life is hard. There is a time and place for throwing ourselves a pity party. The key is not getting stuck in that pattern. How do we identify signs that we are in a victim mindset, and how can we shift to feeling empowered, strong and hopeful again? My guest today is Sarah Kolman, an expert in psychoneuroimmunology, the science of how our thoughts and emotions affect immune and autoimmune health.
For my 100th podcast episode, instead of interviewing someone else, I thought it would be fun to share what I’ve learned on my autoimmune journey so far. I developed rheumatoid arthritis in 2012, started blogging in 2013, and started podcasting in 2014. While I never would have chosen autoimmune disease, it has transformed my life in positive ways, alongside the really painful ones. I’ve come a long way from where I started, and I’m not done learning yet! I hope these insights will help those of you facing a new autoimmune diagnosis, and resonate with those of you who have been walking this path for years. Tell me where you agree and disagree, and what lessons you’ve learned along the way.
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.
A big part of a healing diet is learning about personal food intolerances and how they can drive autoimmune symptoms. It’s empowering knowledge to have. However, sometimes the list of foods we remove grows and grows, and we make the mistake of thinking that food is the only trigger for autoimmune flares. It’s also common to not replace those calories with enough healthy foods that we can eat. This means we end up in a nutrition deficit. In this podcast, registered dietitian Laura Schoenfeld teaches us how to avoid this trap, how to troubleshoot ongoing symptoms, and how to leave food fear behind.
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.
This is one of my favorite episodes from Season 1 of this podcast. It’s a timeless topic. Sometimes, we make poor diet and lifestyle choices, even knowing that it will cause us pain. In this episode, we answer the question: “Why do we do this?” And we also offer a variety of ways to overcome this pattern. Dr. Judy Tsafrir is a psychiatrist who specializes in nutritional approaches to healing. She’ll be teaching us what’s going on in our bodies and brains, when we sabotage our own health. Rory Linehan is the blogger behind The Paleo PI. He has personal experience overcoming self-sabotage and will be sharing his story.
Our homes can have a powerful effect on our lives. Not only do they reflect our interests and daily responsibilities, they also impact how we feel physically, mentally, and emotionally. Decluttering can be a cathartic experience with benefits that resonate beyond material things. We learn the practice of letting go. We reflect on what we value most. We make space for change. We let more light in. Autoimmune disease is often a wake-up call for this type of priority-setting, and decluttering can be a way to de-stress and support our health. My guest Courtney Carver has multiple sclerosis herself, which inspired her decade-long journey into simple living. Today, we share practical tips for decluttering everything from our homes, to our emails, to our hearts and minds.
With autoimmune disease, we’ve been told that our body is literally attacking itself. It’s common to feel betrayed by our bodies, furious with our bodies, and at war with ourselves. That’s not a healing state. However, making the shift to self-love doesn’t always come easily, especially when we’re suffering. The good news is that self-compassion can be learned, and it supports our health in multiple ways, not just mentally and emotionally but also physically. This podcast goes into all the details, including beginner steps and a guided self-compassion meditation. My guest is Dr. Kristin Neff. She has been teaching self-compassion and leading the research in this field for the past 15 years.
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?
This is one of my favorite mind-body techniques. When I feel stuck in fear, anger, or grief with no way to move forward, this technique transforms those feelings into peace. Does that sound too good to be true? That’s why I love this technique – it’s that powerful for me. Autoimmune disease and suffering often go hand-in-hand, physically, mentally and emotionally. The Work of Byron Katie is a process for questioning stressful thoughts and the feelings they feed. In this podcast, I offer myself up as a guinea pig with Katie as my guide. At the time of this recording, I wasn’t in remission and feeling frustrated because I was “doing everything right”. Can you relate? Listen to our conversation, and learn how to apply this technique in your own life.
Hypnotherapy is a therapeutic technique that uses the power of positive suggestion to bring about subconscious change to our thoughts, feelings and behavior. In this podcast, we talk about its application to life with autoimmune disease, and how it might be an effective tool to help us manage our stress and even alleviate chronic symptoms. My guest is clinical hypnotherapist, Kerry Jeffery, who also has autoimmune disease herself.
Emotional Freedom Technique, otherwise known as EFT, is a simple technique designed to release emotional blocks to healing. What does that mean? The idea is that no matter what challenges we are experiencing, including autoimmune disease, there is always an emotional component. This doesn’t mean our symptoms are “all in our head.” But it does mean that repressed emotions can increase autoimmune flares and interfere with our ability to reduce and reverse our symptoms. Autoimmune health is about so much more than just food. In this podcast, EFT expert Dr. Anne Merkel describes how it works and guides us through a sample session.
Curious about the impact meditation can have in your life? Do you believe that you can’t meditate? Or that there’s one right way to do it? In this podcast, I interview four people with autoimmune disease, each sharing a different form of meditation and the impact it’s had on their health. At the end of the podcast, I share how meditation has worked in my own life since my rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis in 2012.
This episode of the Phoenix Helix podcast is one of the most popular of all time. Can our minds help heal (or harm) our bodies? What used to be considered “new age thinking” is now being proven through the science of psychoneuroimmunology. My guest is an award-winning science journalist who also has autoimmune disease. She conducted a year-long self-experiment into mind-body practices and their effects on her own autoimmune symptoms. She also researched the effect childhood trauma has on our developing brain and immune systems, which can set us up for autoimmune disease later in life. Thankfully, there are ways to reverse this process, and she shares those tips, too.