“If you don’t think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days,” stated by Kris Carr. Kris Carr is so amazing, she is the best at articulating the right words to get the point across. As a doctor, wife, mother, daughter, friend, and autoimmune disease victor, I know that burning the candle at both ends takes a toll on the body. Yet, when we have so many shoes to fill we often neglect our own body. I am guilty of this myself. We must have constant reminders of learning how to balance our stress.
Meditation and Autoimmune Disease
I used think that meditation was this woo-woo practice, and I just couldn’t see the value in it. My thought process started to change once I saw study after study backing it up. So I attempted… I would try my hardest to have a Julia Roberts moment from Eat Pray Love. I honestly thought I was doing it wrong since that feeling of zen never entered by body. Then I came across a role model who stated if you can sit quiet, and calm the brain for just two minutes you will have done a lot of good for yourself. Two minutes? Everyone has two minutes each day. So I downloaded a meditation App on my phone with a timer. I wake up before the rest of the family to attempt having a few peaceful moments of silence. I set the timer for 5-15 minutes and just breathe. There are sounds, mantras, and/or guided meditations I will do at times, but otherwise just breathing is enough. It takes practice. It will take a while to master. Be patient with yourself. Be kind. You got this, after all it just needs to be two minutes.
Autoimmune Friendly Workouts
It is important to be physical even if you have an autoimmune disease. It is always best to check with your doctor before beginning an exercise program. Everyone has a different exercise tolerance, some may be able to recover from high intensity training while for others it is too much. I have the tendency of wanting to train really hard. I tend to gain weight when I’m training, because it is simply too stressful on my body. I wanted to check off a bucket list item- A Tough Mudder. I signed up with some ladies I didn’t even know to do the half. I didn’t want them to think I was the weak link. So I trained hard every day. I felt strong which was great, but I was so frustrated I was gaining weight. The big day came, I was stressed out with doing the race. Could I make it to the end? Would I be strong enough to do the obstacles? Would I disappoint my team? Or even worse could I hurt myself? Let me tell you it is important to know how quickly you recover. I felt like it took over a year to recover from the physical, mental and emotional stress I put on myself. I made it through and completed each obstacle, check that one off the bucket list. I learned my lesson, that I need to be easy with myself. Since then I have been recovering by doing mild cardio and medium intensity weights to stay strong.
Have you tried Yin Yoga or Restorative Yoga? I prefer doing Yin Yoga and Restorative Yoga to help with my stress management. I recently learned through a Yoga Therapy class that it is important to be in the right style of class if you have stress and/or anxiety. Remember we are all different and have different levels of fitness. It is totally okay if your exercise is doing chair stretches, physical therapy movements, and/or plain walking. Trying to stay active is important for managing stress levels.
Adaptogens for Autoimmune Disease
Are you wanting an alternative to medication to help you manage stress? Adaptogen herbs are a great first line therapy. Adaptogens are herbs that help you balance your stress hormones. Our adrenals are responsible for the fight or flight response that a lot of us women live in. The adaptogens help us cope with the stress of living in our modern day world, by balancing the stress response. I have been taking Adaptogens since naturopathic medical school. The amount of stress you go through during those years is treacherous, especially when you have autoimmune disease on top of it. Chronic stress harms our immune system, therefore taking herbs that can help balance the stress response is beneficial. I love that adaptogens have been used for thousands of years by many cultures. Taking adaptogens like Holy Basil, Rhodiola, and/or Ashwaganda can help you balance your internal stress response. When taking medications it is always important to make sure that the herb and medication can be taken together. Naturopathic Doctors can test your adrenal function and help you determine which nutritional/herbal formulations may benefit you the most.
Focus on These 3 To Help Reduce Your Stress!
it is important to focus on stress reduction when living with an autoimmune disease. Meditation is a very powerful practice that is easy to put into your daily schedule. Picking exercises that you enjoy and is good for your body can help with reducing stress. Choosing natural adaptogenic herbs (Holy Basil, Rhodiola, Ashwaganda) can be great therapy to help you balance your stress response. Remember to nurture yourself and learn ways to cope, you are worth it!