Our minds and bodies are linked, which means that healing isn’t just about physical cleansing, but emotional cleansing too. Last week we asked author and wellness expert, Elissa Goodman, to recommend first steps after being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease, Hashimoto’s.
Below we’re digging one step deeper and talking about the unavoidable process of emotional healing. Stress and emotional trauma are inextricably linked to most auto-immune conditions…
“Cleanse” is a word we hear all the time in the wellness community, and we associate it mostly with the foods we’re eating. For example, someone may go on a juice cleanse to try and reset their digestive system, or maybe they’ll partake in my soup cleanse that focuses on eating whole, nutritious foods. I think that cleansing your body through food is great. But there’s another, just as important cleanse, that people tend to forget about… and that’s an emotional cleansing lifestyle.
I see so many clients walking around with the weight of massive stress and trauma hanging on their shoulders (and blocking their minds) –- I recognize it, because I was once in their place. I never realized how many toxic emotions and experiences I was holding onto until, at the age of 34, I was diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Hashimoto’s. I finally began to learn that our emotions, and the state of stress and anxiety that they bring, can have serious detrimental effects on our health. In my case, I believe it contributed to Hashi’s developing in my body.
That’s why, when it comes to healing yourself from an autoimmune disease, or any disease for that matter, I think it’s so important to focus on emotional factors. Here’s how you can cleanse your emotions, to give your body and mind that sense of calm they need to truly heal.
Before anything else, practice self-love. Establishing a consistent practice of self-love is critical to healing, because you have to put yourself in a positive, loving, mindset to heal. While it may seem selfish to focus on yourself and your needs, it’s an inside job and it must be done if you want to thrive long-term. There is some confusion on what self-love actually means. It’s much more than taking a bath and having a spa day. This quote perfectly sums it up:
“Self-love requires you to be honest about your current choices and thought patterns and undertake new practices that reflect self-worth.” ~Caroline Kirk
There isn’t a magical pill you can take to stop your negative self talk, your repetitive destructive patterns and your choice to put yourself last. No one can ever make you happy, loved or well until you practice it yourself. Here are some ways to get started:
Choose yourself first | That might mean you will have to start turning down activities and interests that don’t serve you in the moment. Recognize when you’re tired, overwhelmed or simply not feeling it and honor that feeling (with the assurance that there will be no guilt afterwards). Tuning into your self and your needs is a very big step in self-loving behavior.
Schedule time to provide your body rest, exercise, and comfort whatever it may need | If you need relaxation and comfort, schedule a massage. If you’re feeling depleted or tense, try foam rolling at home –- it’ll get your blood flowing and your body feeling great. If you’re feeling exhausted and need to recharge, allow yourself a 30-minute nap. If you need an outlet to clear your mind and care for your physical body, make exercise 3-4 times a week a priority, no excuses. These are simple ways that you can listen and respond to your needs in a caring manner.
Find a positive mantra to repeat to yourself for every day | If you repeat something to yourself enough, chances are, you’ll start to believe it. This is something I said to myself, “Every day and every way, I am getting better and better,” until eventually, it became true! I highly recommend picking up You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay. This book is a great start to put to use positive mantras and to accept responsibility for making self care a daily practice.
Write down 3 things that you love about yourself everyday | Owning your inner and outer beauty is a beautiful act of self-love. Make sure each day you have something different. It may seem hard at first, but you’ll be amazed at how many positive things you notice about yourself with a simple shift of mentality.
Do something you’re good at | This one is such a simple and easy self-esteem booster. I always clean out my closet. It may seem like a small task, but I know organization is one of my strong suits, and at the end I always feel more proud and accomplished than when I started. Or make a beautiful dinner for others or yourself and savor the food that was made with love and care for your body. Owning your qualities, even when no one else is around to experience them, isn’t something you should be ashamed of!
Recognize your trauma and heal from it | We carry with us so many of the toxic and traumatic experiences that have occurred throughout our lives. These are things that could have happened as early as childhood or as recent as a few weeks ago. And while we may not be thinking about them at all times, they still have an impact on the way we think, manage stress and even on our body’s ability to heal.
For me, after I was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma and completed the treatments, I thought and hoped that I was done with cancer’s nasty effects. But what I didn’t realize at the time was that the trauma lingered on. Holding onto these traumatic experiences caused me a great deal of stress and, in part I think, contributed to my development of Hashimoto’s and made it severely worse. Carrying your trauma with you can change the way your body operates, and not for the better. That’s why finding a way to release this trauma is so crucial.
For some, talk therapy could be an effective way to obtain this release by getting traumatic events that you may be repressing out into the open, and effectively letting them go. For me, however, talking about my cancer in therapy felt like I was reliving the trauma over and over. I found my release in many different energy healing modalities. They helped me relax, find happiness and focus deeply on recovering from trauma.
Traditional energy healing | This is the strategy that I found to be, by far, the most helpful when it came to healing from trauma. I visited shamans and energy healers who helped me get in touch with the negative subconscious thoughts that were stopping me from thriving. They helped me learn how to remove these blocks within my body’s energy. Use your gut and intuition to really feel who is the right energy healer for you, and go with an open mind.
Reiki | This form of meditation involves the redistribution of energy throughout the body through touch. The focus is on creating an awareness of different areas of your body while slipping your mind out of the chaos of the day-to-day anxieties. Reiki is used to promote relaxation, calm the mind and ultimately reduce stress so you can become more balanced in mind, body and spirit. Learn more about this healing modality here.
eft Tapping | The idea behind tapping is similar to acupuncture but instead of needles, you’re using your fingers to tap pressure points. At the same time, you’re recounting something traumatic or worrying, and the tapping helps to relieve the feelings of anxiety or stress that are associated with that thought. The whole purpose is to send a flow of calming energy throughout the body to promote healing.
Release your stress | Stress is pretty hard to avoid. Whether it be a job, finances, relationships, family dramas, the list goes on and on… it’s easy to feel the effects of stress start to build up in your body. Stress in the short term is not necessarily bad, it sometimes can be used as a strong motivator if you have the right mentality. But when you stay stressed for long periods of time, it can do some serious damage to your body. Cortisol is one of those handy stress hormones that helps to prepare your body in a “fight or flight” situation. When cortisol levels are raised for too long though, like in the instance of chronic stress, it can wreak havoc on your immune system and blood sugar and cause various health issues. Constant stress also plays a role in the development of autoimmune diseases and can make the symptoms worse. There are some effective ways to manage stress though.
Mindfulness meditation | Practicing mindfulness can help you stay in the moment instead of constantly thinking ahead and picturing worst-case scenarios. It even helps your body cope with stress better in the long term. All you need to do is focus your attention on a single point of reference. That could be your breath, a mantra, body awareness and even a word. In doing so, you become present in the moment, which, as easy as it sounds, becomes very difficult today in our busy lives.
Breathwork exercises | A good breathwork exercise can help your body from entering fight-or-flight mode and diminish the harmful, immune suppressing stress response. Try breathing in through your nose for 4 seconds, and then releasing it through your mouth for 6-8 seconds. Practice daily, 5-10 minutes.
Eat a nutritious and anti-inflammatory diet | Inflammation and stress go hand in hand, so in stressful times, you want to make sure your diet contains plenty of anti-inflammatory foods. Plus, filling your meals with nutrient-dense fruits and veggies will help keep your body and mind feeling great.
The Chalkboard Mag and its materials are not intended to treat, diagnose, cure or prevent any disease. All material on The Chalkboard Mag is provided for educational purposes only. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified healthcare provider for any questions you have regarding a medical condition, and before undertaking any diet, exercise or other health related program.