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.
Stress is a common trigger of autoimmune flares, and chronic stress leads to chronic inflammation. Thankfully, there are many techniques that can help us manage stress better. You can also quickly browse this topic by resource type: articles and podcasts. Not sure where to begin? Start here.
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?
If you subscribe to my newsletter, you know that I often include a “Belly Laugh of the Week” – for good reason! Even in our darkest moments, laughter can take us by surprise and soothe not only our soul but also our body. How does this work? The physical act of laughing releases endorphins – chemicals in our bodies that are called “nature’s narcotics.” They can give us a feeling of euphoria and even relieve pain. Laughter also reduces cortisol (the stress hormone), and even makes our memory sharper. Goodbye brain fog! Living with autoimmunity is hard, and sometimes laughter feels out of our reach. Yet, those are the moments when we need laughter the most. So, today I offer you a laughter roundup.
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.
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?
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.
The paleo autoimmune protocol is a powerful tool for healing, but it’s also a restrictive diet. Food is an emotional experience for us all, but if you struggle with eating disorders, that’s even more true. I’ve gotten emails from readers asking how they can navigate the paleo autoimmune protocol (AIP) without triggering disordered eating behaviors of their past. I’ve also seen conversations in the AIP Facebook groups that hint at some people using the AIP as an excuse to eat less. I’ve personally experienced fear of food, once I learned how it can exacerbate my autoimmune disease. My goal with this blog is to help us heal in every way. Today, I talk with Stefani Ruper, an expert on disordered eating, on how we can navigate the autoimmune protocol in a way that’s healthy both physically and psychologically.
Research shows that sadness increases our perception of pain, depression increases inflammation, stress can make you sick, and anxiety affects immune function. That’s the power of the mind-body connection. In this post, I write about EFT: a simple process for releasing negative emotions that may be holding back our healing progress. It’s also a technique that can be used in daily life as well. It can help dispel fear, anxiety, grief – any emotion we are struggling to let go. People even use it in airports to get over fear of flying. Have you used EFT in your own life? How has it helped you?
Did you know that once a week, I turn off my computer and hide my iphone in the garage? For 24 hours, I don’t have access to social media, email, or the internet. It may sound crazy to you, but it’s the most peaceful day of my week. I’ve been doing this for years, and I highly recommend it! If life seems stressful and busy, this is an amazing technique for slowing time down again.
Heartmath is a biofeedback technique where we can see our heart rhythm in real time, and track how it changes based on stress vs. relaxation. In this blog post, I share my first experience with it, including the graphs of my own changing heart rhythm. I also tested out various visualizations. Are you curious which was the most effective?
Learn how HeartMath taps the power of emotion to support our healing, instead of detracting from it.
So, your mind is full of thoughts 24 hours a day, and you cannot imagine being able to clear that crazy head. Sitting still makes you restless, and silence kind of freaks you out. I’m here to tell you that you’re not alone. Every meditator for centuries has felt that way at the beginning. We’re all born with “monkey minds.” The key is to re-frame meditation in your mind, lower your expectations and release the pressure that comes with that word. Here are 10 ways to get started, as well as information on why it’s such a powerful healing tool.