When I was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease, it made me question everything. I felt so angry with my body for betraying me this way. The feeling worsened during my flares, and before my last surgery in 2019, I was at my lowest. How could I be going through yet another surgery? How would I love my body after all this? What even is autoimmunity?
What is autoimmunity?
Here’s the thing, our bodies are incredibly complicated, and ironically, they are working even harder for those of us with autoimmunity.
Think about it; our bodies are continually fighting these “bad guys,” attacking them, doing everything they can to get the “bad guys” out of here.
Sure, in autoimmunity, they aren’t bad guys; they are our very own cells – our joints, intestines, thyroid, muscles, connective tissue, skin, blood vessels…the list goes on.
But, when you think about it, our bodies are only trying to protect us, and they are VERY determined to keep us safe.
Here’s a list of practical ways to love your body, with an autoimmune disease.
#1 Love yourself, first
I use versions of this phrase a whole lot with my clients. One I used recently – you cannot fill from an empty cup.
If your cup is empty, you can’t pour it out into another. If you don’t love yourself first, you can’t love another.
We often wait it out for the ‘right’ time to take a moment for ourselves, for the ‘perfect’ holiday so we can rest.
What if we took micro-moments to fill our cups – even a minute a day to love ourselves just a little?
A minute of slow breathing. A minute to close your eyes. A minute to stretch our bodies.
Chances are, you have a family, food to cook, a job to show up for, a pandemic to worry about, but often we can find a minute if we prioritize loving ourselves first.
It probably takes a moment of prioritizing stillness over a social media scroll…we have time; we simply need to prioritize things a little better.
#2 Learn how to manage your body’s stress response
Managing my stress response has had a huge impact on my autoimmune disease.
Our bodies are equipped to handle stressful situations in tiny doses: but the problem is that we are always under some form of stress in our modern society – an email, a deadline looming, kids screaming, bills, traffic, family drama…stress is everywhere.
Have you noticed how someone telling you to ‘calm down’ usually has the opposite effect on you? Even if you tell yourself to calm down!
It starts with developing a mindful approach to your stressors and choosing how best to respond to them.
#3 Focus on what you can do
Often, when we are diagnosed and experience all the autoimmune disease symptoms, we immediately go into a scarcity mindset.
Our brain is wired to look for threats in our environment (it’s how we survived in the wild all those years ago). We need to train our brains to think of what’s going right in our environment.
Chances are autoimmune disease has taken a lot from your life, but what has it given you? What can you still do?
Maybe you can’t run, but you can choose to take a slow walk and savor nature at a slower pace.
Maybe you can’t have gluten, but you can choose to enjoy a gluten-free treat that hits the spot and keeps your gut happy.
You always have a choice, and focusing on what you can do, is one of them.
#4 Find what feels good (for you) and thrive
Find ways to move your body that feels good for you as an individual – not what everyone else says is right for you. It requires a level of commitment because you will need to experiment. Experiment and take the time to get to know the beautifully complex body that houses your soul.
You’ll notice that I don’t call this ‘exercise,’ but rather movement because moving our bodies in any way that we can benefits us in so many ways.
It takes letting go of what society says you should do. If 10,000 steps don’t feel right, start at 3,000 and allow your body the time to build up slowly.
I have found that a blend of walking (less than 10,000 steps) and yoga is what feels right for this beautiful body. I rarely do a yoga class that’s longer than 25min, and my (relaxed) walks are where I get to unwind and de-stress in nature.
Bottom line: loving yourself takes work, and often, it means saying no to a few things and putting yourself first. Your body deserves some loving!
I’ll leave you with these questions:
- What can you say no to and put yourself first?
- How can you put yourself at the top of your to-do list?
Let me know in the comments below!
I love working with my clients on taking small (practical) steps to put themselves first! Let me support you! Find out more here.