Drowning in information… that’s how I felt when I first set out to address the root cause of my autoimmune disease. I was so motivated to learn everything I could about mind body medicine, leaky gut, and the latest treatment methods for Hashimoto’s. I had a purpose and I was on a mission to make a difference in my life and in the lives of others. It was go time!
And then nothing happened…
I’ll be frank. If you start looking up functional and eastern medicine approaches to treating autoimmune disease, I look forward to having you back on this blog in month once you’ve had multiple panic attacks and ordered $1000 worth of books and programs. I am not judging or calling you naïve. I was this person. I was enrolled in at least to 3 online autoimmune programs and my bookshelves were spilling over with Paleo cookbooks, meditation guides for dummies, and every pro functional medicine book I could get my hands on.
Every one of these resources is valuable. The problem is that I am one person. I have job. I have student loans. I pay rent. I work out. I have friends. I couldn’t devote 24 hours in a day and 100% of my paycheck to the pursuit of wellness, let alone without any sort of map for where to start.
I finally had it one morning when I knocked over a stack of 4 unread books that were piled on my nightstand. I had pressed snooze for the 3rd time and realized I might miss a morning meeting. I flung myself out of bed in a panic, knocked over the books, and managed to crack my iPhone screen. It was not so conveniently placed on top of those untouched pages of knowledge that I clearly wasn’t absorbing. I had to laugh. I felt completely ridiculous.
That morning I decided I need to set some realistic goals. I was flying at 30,000 feet with grandiose ideas about waking up tomorrow morning as a brand new, fully healthy, emotionally available, centered person. Totally feasible, right?!? Every tomorrow turned into that next episode on Netflix that I didn’t bother to disrupt because why did I really need to get up off the couch or out of bed in the next hour? It was so much easier to keep reading, keep setting intentions, and keep making excuses for the lack of forward motion.
I realized that I needed to ACT regardless of my aches, pains, anxiety and excuses. I had to turn off the binge marathon of analyzing my health to death. I had to take a step forward, even if it was one incredibly minor change in behavior.
Below are the first steps I took as I began to heal my body, mind, and spirit. They are the foundation I desperately needed before I could build upon my experience and discover what worked best for my own healing. These steps were taken with autoimmunity in mind, but many of these were monumental in helping me heal from my eating disorder, poor self-worth, and emotional codependency.
- Admit that you need help and embrace the knowledge and care available to you.
I used to try to control every miniscule detail in my life as a result of feeling scared sh*tless all the time. I perceived everything and everyone as a threat to my meticulously constructed façade of perfection. Acknowledgement is not the social and self-esteem death sentence that our egos have convinced us it will be. Once your issue is out there, you take away its power. This applied to Hasimoto’s, bulimia, and many other issues for me. Owning my truth provided something I never thought possible: FREEDOM. There are resources, loved ones, and a world of opportunity out there to help you on your journey. But first you need to admit to yourself that you need them. This doesn’t make you a failure. It makes you courageous as hell. Own it!
- Reduce the stress inducing parts of your life and adopt healthy coping mechanisms for those which are presently unavoidable.
It took a lot of patience and embracing moments of solitude to begin to get in touch with my intuition. I started taking note of how situations made me feel instead of what I think the benefits are. To be honest, many of these perceived “benefits” were focused on external validation. For example, I was part of a nonprofit organization that I thought was excellent for networking. I couldn’t understand why my chronic people pleasing, overachieving self could never decide which subcommittee to apply for at this organization. Once I started to listen to my gut, I realized that every time I walked into the building for monthly meetings my shoulders would tense up, my heart would race, and I struggled to make small talk with other attendees. This is an organization that does amazing things for the community. It’s not a bad place. It just wasn’t for me. It wasn’t in line with my personal values and priorities. I was only involved because my ego was in the driver’s seat instead of my intuition. I resigned from my role and instead began volunteering for a smaller nonprofit that I thoroughly enjoy contributing my time and efforts to.
- Learn to meditate and make it a daily practice.
This will be a slow process for many. I could barely make it through a 5 minute guided meditation when I first began my practice. I still struggle with silent meditations, but I work at it every day and now make it a priority when I first wake up before I start the rest of my day. A calmer, more aware, more present, more happy, and more fulfilling life awaits you if you take the time to unplug and connect with your mind and body. I highly recommend downloading an app such as Headspace to help you begin this journey.
- Start your day right.
I used to press snooze a minimum of 3 times. I canceled my morning yoga class 4 of out 5 weekdays. I drank half a pot of coffee before I even considered opening my work emails. Today I typically wake up a couple of minutes before my alarm is set to go off, I do a 5-10 minute meditation, and I almost always make it to my morning yoga class. This is one of those changes you need to decide you’re going to do and implement it the very next morning. If you need a little motivation, check out this badass video. I am a space camp alum so the analogy really resonated with me. Waving my nerd flag high in this post (and giving zero f*cks about it!!!)
Like I said above, these steps were my foundation for healing. I made a commitment to build upon them and I have stuck to this commitment every day. I’ve made mistakes. I’ve discovered a few changes that didn’t work for me, especially when it came to my diet. I’ve plateaued at various points as I have gotten to a better place mentally, physically, and emotionally. The key is sticking to it. Every d@mn day.
Coming from the queen of procrastination, playing the victim, and at times using my illness as a crutch… this is TOTALLY POSSIBLE. If you don’t have faith in you right now, please know that I do. And I am NOT a bullsh*tter at this point in my life, in case my writing didn’t make that blatantly obvious 🙂