How I survived my autoimmune flare
Imperfect that’s me. My yoga practice, my journey towards healing, my job as a mom, as a wife, as a friend. When I look at this picture I see perfection in trying, and strength and perseverance but it’s not without a lot of effort. Chronic illness has become my friend, has made me the strong, powerful woman that I have become and without it, I’m not sure if I would have discovered the amazing things that my body, is capable of. I wouldn’t have discovered that all alone I could heal through thought, nourishment and gratitude.
Every change of season, or stressful occasion I sometimes find myself in a place where my body revolts. After Christmas this year, I found my body doing just that crushing fatigue, all over body pain, and a belly that just didn’t want to except much food. I have learned what works for me what helps my body come back into balance, and allow it to have its own healing party.
This may take days, weeks or months and I have found that as I get stronger it takes less time. Check out what I did to allow this magnificent dance that my body goes through while I negotiate with the symptoms to heal, go back into balance, maintain remission. You can use any words you like! When you find a space you can live without pain, without limitations, only joy, there is no disease.
These 8 items below have helped the most. I continue to use many of them daily and always try to use as much self care as possible. With the crazy lives everyone leads, this isn't always an easy task, but I have found that when I take the best care of myself first, then I can give my family the best care.
When I am feeling run down, I need to stop, stop everything I am doing and rest, lay down, get off my feet and slow down. I get as much sleep as I can and go to bed early. That means falling asleep by 9PM. Did you know that all sleep is not created equal. The sleep you get before midnight, is more restorative and restful. This truely allows the body to recover and reset.
This is always up for interpretation. I have done all of the healing diets, I have been Keto, put my body through the hell of AIP, dabbled in intermittent fasting. What I've come to know is that these diets, lifestyles, different ways of eating are helpful to get you to a place, but every BODY is created different and so many of these are not made specifically for your problems, your symptoms, your limitations. It has taken forever for me to realize that I just have to listen to my body and do what it is leading me to do. I have a love affair with Paleo eating, because it makes me feel stronger, less bloated and gives me more energy, less pain. When I am in a good place, I may try small portions of rice or corn and be fine, but sometimes it's the worst idea ever. When I am having a flare, I double up on bone broth, eat light meals, find that skipping breakfast gives my digestive system a well needed break and cut out ALL sugar. Even Paleo allowed sugars are a treat and best avoided during times of healing. This is what works best for my body and listening to what it is saying has been the biggest learning experience.
This has so many meanings to people and again it is not a one size fits all. For me it's quieting the mind, focusing on my breathing and and striving to to reach a heightened level of spiritual awareness. It is a pratice that has been evolving for some time. When I am feeling really low, feeling a lot of pain and letting negative thoughts go round and round in my mind, that is when I need it most. There are many teachers who have wonderful techniques and practices, but for me Dr. Joe Dispenza has changed my life, my mind and my well being. Here is one of his TED Talks that first led me to him and it has changed my journey in healing, to a magnificent passage towards a new life. I try to meditate at least once a day and when I am recovering, I find that a few times a day is so helpful.
Another helpful tool for me is a practice created by Annie Hopper called DNRS. Dynamic Neural Retraining Sysyem is rewiring the limbic system of the brain, not chasing symptoms. It is a drug free intensive limbic rehabilitation program that is taught from a platform of environmental awareness. It educates you in the science of Neuroplasticity and equipts you with tools and techniques to rewire your brain and repair your Limbic system. I will write a separate post on this, because there is so much information and science has discovered that our brains are plastic and can be healed. This incredible practice brought me back to life and allowed me to be grateful again, not to think about my symptoms every minute of the day and truly find peace. I started doing an hour a day, but find myself slacking when I am feeling well. When I am not feeling so well, I jump right back in and start to feel results very quickly.
This might be my favorite form of self care, I shut the door, shut the world out and soak. I add up to 4 cups and a few drops of my favorite Essential Oils and just soak. Epsom salt baths, ease stress, relax the body, sore joints and muscles, but most importantly, eliminates toxins from the body. Epsom salt contains Magnesium which can also help with constipation. During times of stress and for me a flare, this is a must on my list.
For me movement helps me to feel better. I find that laying in bed for periods of time, makes me feel worse. I'm not getting up and doing cardio and weight training, but light stretching which I can do on the floor at home or Vinyasa flow class when I'm a bit stronger. What amazes me most about the body is its power to heal, even with small adjustments. My body could be throbbing with pain and screaming at me to do nothing, but if I ignore the negative voices and do the above I am always in awe that I feel 1000% better after. Go slow with this and listen to what your body needs, it really does speak to you, you just need to listen.
This may seem a little silly, and with those who suffer from chronic illness, invisible illness, I can attest that even when you may be surrounded , your children, your friends, good energy, it is often times difficult to access joy and feel grateful about anything. Sometimes I sit and think of memories that bring elevated emotion and I am bathed in gratitude and all of the light around me everyday. This is a process and DNRS was and is a large factor in bringing me to that space. Gratitude is a practice that evolves everyday and yes, you have to be mindful of it and give it your effort. Find joy in small moments, small accomplishments, small victories. This is a practice that will make everyones life more full and complete.
7. ESSENTIAL OILS
I am not only in love with these for their smell, but also how amazing they are in supporting the systems of the body. When something goes wrong healthwise, there is an oil for that. I find when I am most uncomfortable, I slather Lavender, Lemongrass and Copiaba on my lower belly and get so much relief. I diffuse like crazy, usually oils for relaxation like Lavender, Peace and Calming and Valor. There are endless ways that I use them and feel that they are just another item in my toolbox for alternative options to drugs.
This is another game changer for me and one of the reasons why I am currently in school to become a Homeopath. I find that it is misunderstood by many people and that it is often confused with herbs and supplements. Homeopathy is where medicine began. If you do some research, you may discover that your local hospital was a homeopathic hospital before Western Medicine took a strong hold on the health of people and began treating every symptom with a drug.
Homeopathy is a treatment of disease by minute doses of NATURAL substances that in a healthy person would produce symptoms of disease. What that is really saying is, you are taking energy to slowly nudge the body back to homeostasis. It's a beautiful form of gentle healing, without any side effects. Doesn't that sound very different than the typical drug commercials you have listened to?
I always seek the advice of my personal Homeopath and within days, sometimes hours, I feel a shift in my symptoms. When I am experiencing a flare, I will always take my constitutional remedy first and go from there. In future posts, I will give you incredible information on this amazing form of medicine.
All of these items above, ease and help to heal my body during times of distress. It is so important that you listen carefully to what your body needs. One that I didn't list is, ask for help. Everyone has a support system in place and during times of struggle, reach out and ask for help, ask someone to pick up your kids, make an easy dinner, stop at the store for you. It truly takes a village to get through the difficulties of chronic disease. Don't short change the true power of self care, it can mean the difference between being in bed for a few weeks or a few months.