Techniques

Below you’ll find a wide variety of ways to harness the anti-inflammatory power of the mind-body connection for autoimmune health. For more resources, see the entire mindset archives.

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A Day With No Complaints

Can you go a day without complaining? When I first heard of this challenge, I thought to myself: “Oooh! That sounds really hard!” Yet I don’t see myself as a negative person. I have a daily gratitude practice, and it was born from my darkest days with rheumatoid arthritis. When pain seemed to be my whole world, I needed to find a way to still see beauty. That gratitude practice saved me. But that doesn’t mean I have a perfect mindset. I definitely complain. I think most people do. Complaining feels good in the moment, but research shows it increases stress and harms health long-term. So, how can we break the habit? In this article, I share how.

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Affirmations vs. Iffirmations

Research shows that affirmations can help people cope with life’s challenges, an important skill when living with chronic illness. They boost problem-solving in stressful situations, and they lead to better health choices as well. There is a risk with affirmations, however. Sometimes they backfire. In that circumstance, your brain disagrees so strongly with the affirmation that it strengthens your negative thoughts instead. Has that happened to you? If yes, you’re not alone. In this article, I share tips for quieting your inner critic. I also teach my favorite technique for overcoming the mind’s resistance to affirmations – Iffirmations!

podcast graphic with photos of host and guest

Episode 198: Healing Mindset with Eileen Laird

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!

Episode 193: Accessible Yoga with Jivana Heyman

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.

Episode 189: Best Of – Meditation for Fidgety Skeptics with Jeff Warren

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.

Episode 171: The Art of Letting Go with Courtney Carver

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. 

The Healing Power of Journaling with Olwen Wilson

Episode 157: The Healing Power of Journaling with Olwen Wilson

In the research, they call it expressive writing or art therapy. At home, we call it journaling. This simple practice is an amazing stress management and self-awareness tool. It helps release emotions that are difficult to let go, gain clarity to make difficult decisions, uncover hidden parts of yourself, express gratitude, discover playfulness, and simply honor and accept where you are in the moment. You don’t have to be a writer or an artist to keep a journal and gain these benefits. In this podcast, we’ll be focusing on using creative journals for autoimmune health. My guest is Olwen Wilson, a woman with autoimmune disease herself who also teaches the art of journaling.

Episode 152: Mind-Body Techniques for Pain with Vidyamala Burch

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.

5 Mantras for a Healthy Holiday Season

When I think of a healthy holiday, I think of so many things: autoimmune health, celebration, self-compassion, stress resilience, and social connection. Yet the holidays are sometimes the opposite of these things! What is a mantra? It’s simply a statement of intention. How do you want to spend your holiday season? I’ve come up with 5 to inspire us.

Episode 109: The Science of Gratitude with Dr. Fuschia Sirois

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.

Episode 84: Declutter 101 with Courtney Carver

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.

The Healing Power of Humor and 25 Things to Make You Laugh

The Healing Power of Humor and 25 Things to Make You Laugh

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.

Episode 59: The Power of Self-Inquiry with Byron Katie

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.

Episode 50: Can Hypnotherapy Treat Autoimmune Symptoms? With Kerry Jeffery

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.

Episode 41: EFT with Dr. Anne Merkel

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.

Episode 37: Meditation Healing Stories

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.

Introduction to Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT)

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?

The Power of an Internet-Free Day

The Power of an Internet-Free Day

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. 

What is HeartMath?

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.

woman meditating

Meditation….It’s Easier Than You Think

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.

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