All month long, the Autoimmune Sisters tribe has been celebrating love — of our spouses and children, our family and friends, our neighbors and community, and especially ourselves. But just because February is coming to a close doesn’t mean the love train should stop — particularly when it comes to self-love.
Living with an autoimmune disease comes with a laundry list of challenges, and remembering to love yourself first — especially when your body is failing you — can be the most difficult challenge of all.
Some of my fellow Autoimmune Sisters already wrote about the importance of self-love this month. They talked about the importance of taking time for yourself and engaging in self-care practices; Of listening to your body’s needs and giving it proper fuel, movement, and sleep; Of establishing nourishing morning routines to set yourself up for success; Of knowing your self-worth and saying no to others so you can say yes to yourself. These forms of self-care and self-love are vital to our well-being as autoimmune warriors.
But the ultimate form of self-love is self-advocacy. Trusting your gut, taking (consistent) action, and speaking out are paramount for living your healthiest, best life.
Trust your gut.
As my fellow blog author Christina Tidwell said in her recent article, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by information overload. Follow what feels empowering and right for you. You know your body best. You know when something feels off. Trust your gut — she knows what’s up! Dr. Mark Hyman reminds us, “Your body is the smartest doctor in the room.” Look for (and feel) the cues. Keep a detailed journal of your diet, sleep, exercise, and stress, and pay attention to how your body reacts — It is always talking to you; You just have to listen and trust what you feel.
Take consistent action.
All the knowledge in the word won’t help if you don’t put it into action. And doing something only part of the time isn’t going to be useful either. You need to be both consistent and patient. Managing chronic illness is mostly trial and error, and change takes time. Yes, life will throw curve balls — a change in seasons, new responsibilities at work, family issues, etc. — and flare-ups will happen. Practice giving yourself grace and then start again with renewed resolve to get back on track.
Stand up and speak out.
Living with an autoimmune disease is evidence that you are stronger, more knowledgeable, and more capable than you realize. Embracing this truth and turning it outward is your superpower! Advocate for yourself and your health. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, request more information, or even find new doctors if you don’t feel like you’re being heard. Set boundaries without guilt or shame. Investigate alternative remedies and share your experiences with others. Participate in groups like Autoimmune Sisters and bring others into the community, too. After all, knowledge is power and sharing is caring. Speaking your truth is liberating, empowering, and possibly even lifesaving.
AUTHOR’S DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, physical trainer, registered dietician, or health care provider, and am not licensed to give medical or nutritional advice. The purpose of this article is to share personal experiences and current research in order to educate, inform, and support readers. It should not be taken as medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always consult your doctor and/or professional medical team to determine if the ideas discussed herein are appropriate for your individual circumstances.