About 4 years ago, I was diagnosed with Hashimoto’s disease, a thyroid disorder. I also suffered from anxiety at the time (which I’d had for years), but I never really made the connection they were related. When I got slapped with an ‘atypical’ mammogram, that was the motivation I needed to get proactive about my health. The truth is, our world is stressful, and how we react to that stress will define how much wellness we experience in our lives.
Since so many of you have reached out for advice, I’ve decided to list out everything I did to get out ahead of my health issues and completely reverse them. This is a long list, but know that you don’t necessarily have to implement all of them, nor do you have to do any of them perfectly. Don’t get overwhelmed; use your own intuition to take what you need, and leave what you don’t.
If you take nothing else from this article, know that your stress/anxiety are directly and irrefutably tied to your physical health. So focusing on soothing your stress is priority #1. Here we go:
Manage Your Stress Through Self-Care
You’re never going to eliminate stress from your life. The key is knowing how to process it in healthy ways. Here’s how:
- MEDITATE– set time aside first thing in the morning to meditate. Even if it’s just for 2 minutes. Focus on your breathing, and just notice what it’s like to have no thoughts in your head. You could also try a free guided meditation on YouTube, or download the Headspace app (at the time of this posting, the ‘Basics’ version is free).
- REIKI – Reiki is a powerful form of energy healing that focuses on relaxation. I believe in it so much that I became a certified reiki master and offer it to others. It’s a great stress buster and helps to uncover areas of your life that need healing. If you’re interested in learning more about it, check out this article on Reiki Benefits
- ALTERNATAIVE THERAPIES – In addition to reiki, you could also try acupuncture, tapping, massage, floating – whatever sounds good to you. Yes, this stuff costs money but it’s actually enjoyable and in the long run it’s still cheaper than paying for medication! Think of it as an investment in your wellness. Find the therapies you love most, and schedule sessions regularly, so you always have something to look forward to.
- INDULGE YOUR SENSES – Your brain is constantly absorbing details of your environment. Listen to spa music, light candles, take an Epsom Salt bath, and use your emotional support mists (below). When you’re seeing, hearing, smelling, and feeling things that are calm, your mind and body will settle.
- TALK TO YOURSELF – imagine your anxiety is your inner child; acknowledge that part of yourself, and tell her/him that you’ve got everything under control, and that you’re safe. It might sound a little crazy, but it’s really very calming, and helps to create distance between you and the anxiety. The goal is to remind yourself that the anxiety is just one part of you that can be nurtured and managed; it’s not all-consuming.
- PROTECT YOUR ENERGY – Spend less time around people and situations that trigger negative emotions.
- GO OUTSIDE – Carve out some time everyday to get away from all the electronics and breathe fresh air
- DO YOGA – Yoga is all about mind-body-spirit connection. If you’re not comfortable going to a class, there’s tons of free stuff on YouTube.
- RELEASE LIMITING BELIEFS – Many of us just expect to inherit the health issues that our family members had, which can become a self fulfilling prophecy. In actuality, genetics play a very small role in determining how likely someone is to experience certain diseases – just around 10%. That means the other 90% is within your control! You can break old patterns and choose a different future for yourself, by upgrading your beliefs, habits, diet, and emotions.
- READ POSITIVE MESSAGES – Do some reading, especially before bedtime on healing, or anything that uplifts, soothes, and inspires you. Here are two books that totally changed my perceptions around health:
- SACRED SPACE – Designate a space in your home that’s just for your comfort and healing. Your in-home sanctuary should be clean and cozy, with all of your favorite things. This is a place where you can really look forward to spending time. You want to associate the space with rest/recovery/comfort.
- GET YOUR SLEEP – As you implement these practices, you’ll begin to sleep more soundly. Essential oils are a big help, too. This lavendar+cedwarwood mist supports sleep, and is light enough to spritz your body, pj’s and bedding on a nightly basis; it’s also totally organic. If you’re using your own essential oil products, make sure they’re therapeutic grade and organic. Otherwise they’re doing more harm than good.
Remove/Reduce These Foods from Your Diet
I know, I know! But hear me out: sugar can actually create fearful thoughts in the brain. Every single item on this list causes inflammation in the body, which is the very last thing you need when working through autoimmune issues. Just about every autoimmune disorder is linked to inflammation. Cleaning up your diet will starve disease, so while this may feel like a sacrifice at first, the payoff is huge. Plus there are tons of healthier alternatives these days, so give yourself permission to try some new things at the grocery store. Once you find something you like, you can swap out your old brands once and for all.
Add These to Your Diet
EAT WHOLE FOODS – You want to flood your system with fresh veggies (both raw and cooked), fruit, and gluten-free grains like rice and quinoa. I personally am a vegetarian, but I believe many roads lead to Rome! If you’re a meat eater, make sure you’re choosing organic products, and consider cutting out beef.
There’s a huge list of foods that are have anti-inflammatory properties; just Google or hop over to Pinterest for tons of anti-inflammatory foods and recipes.
If you can stand the taste, I highly recommend adding wheatgrass to your daily routine. This wonder green contains every mineral known to man. You can get it at your local juice bar, or in powder form (far more economical). In some parts of the country you can find it fresh, if you prefer to juice it yourself (but note you’ll need a special wheatgrass juicer). Parsley and spinach juices are a close second, but nothing beats wheatgrass. Make sure you’re choosing an organic, non-gmo brand, like the ones below.
DRINK FILTERED WATER – Shoot for 1/2 your weight in ounces, daily. Your body is 60% water! So you need to make sure the water you’re drinking is filtered. These water bottles by Brita are great, and so much better for the environment than plastic water bottles.
TAKE SUPPLEMENTS – Supplementing my diet with the right vitamins, minerals, and herbs also played a huge role in my remission. I’m no doctor, and often experimented with various supplements on my own. I don’t necessarily recommend this, unless you’re super independent and love researching this stuff. Unfortunately, in my experience, my medical advisers were far more interested in prescribing me pharmaceuticals than testing my blood for vitamin deficiencies. But don’t be afraid to ask specific questions, get second opinions, and even work with a naturopathic doctor in addition to your primary caregiver – you’ll find the difference in how a naturopathic doctor approaches healing is like night and day.
If you’re suffering specifically from thyroid issues, like I was (hyper or hypo), and you haven’t had your thyroid surgically removed, this book is a must-read. I’ve been taking Lugol’s Iodine for over a year now and it has helped me to get off my prescription drugs. Again, I don’t suggest you toss your medications out the window. This is a process, and it takes time. But when done responsibly, you really can heal yourself permanently.
In general, consider adding Vitamin C and D3 to your daily routine, and do some research on supplements for your specific condition.
More Lifestyle Upgrades
BREATHE CLEAN AIR – Plug an air purifier into the bedroom and let it go. Ensuring the air you’re breathing while you sleep is huge! Your body has enough to process without having to deal with airborne allergens and toxins. It’ll help protect your immune system too. The purifier you need depends on the size of your room. Here are a few highly rated options in different price ranges.
REDUCE PESTICIDE INTAKE – Wash any produce you get from the grocery store in the sink – fill up the sink with water and a few healthy splashes of white vinegar. This will help remove any pesticides from the food that can be toxic, and bog down your natural immune system.
REPLACE TOXIC PRODUCTS – Switch out any harsh chemicals in your house (soap, laundry detergent, deodorant, lotions) with more natural options. All the toxic crap in traditional household products takes a tool on the body and can cause diseases over time.
There’s no need to be overwhelmed here – start by working a few of these into your routine, and then add more later. When you commit yourself to lifestyle changes, every aspect of your life will transform. I know because I did it myself, and now these things don’t feel like work; in fact, I’m so addicted to feeling my best, that I would never go back.
Wishing you all the best on your healing journey. You can do this!