Treating Yourself Kindly with an Autoimmune Disorder

Those of you with severe autoimmune diseases like Multiple Sclerosis know that many things can throw you over the edge! Little tasks that other people with good health take for granted can be incredibly taxing for those with celiac disease, Hashimoto’s, diabetes, and other AI conditions.

Be Kind to Yourself

That’s why it’s important for those of us with autoimmune disorders to be extra kind to ourselves and observe how we feel in our day-to-day activities. Or as the medical profession refers to them, ADLs (activities of daily life).

House Cleaning = Exercise

Even little things like housecleaning can be a form of exercise for people with autoimmune conditions. When I cleaned out our fridge and pantry the other day, I didn’t think it was a big deal. That was my mind talking! When I checked in with my body, I realized I was tired and needed to rest.

Don’t Push Yourself

This is a lesson that has taken me some time to learn! If you have an autoimmune disorder or any sort of health issue, it’s important to rest and not push. I remind myself of this every single day!

Don’t Worry About Others

Sometimes people ask why I don’t just push through it and exercise more. What they don’t understand is that I’ll get a full body migraine the next day or my leg will go totally numb, definitely NOT worth it.

Competition vs. Compassion

When we worry about what others think of us, it’s not about them, it’s about us. That’s because we’re being competitive instead of compassionate. Focusing inward on how I feel in my body, rather than what’s going on in my mind is key for me in slowing down.

Cultivating Patience

If you’re dealing with an intense inflammatory condition it’s so important not to push yourself. It can take time to cultivate the skills to be kind gentle and patient with yourself. It’s a practice I cultivate every day.

Your Tips?

Do you have an autoimmune disease? What helps you slow down? Leave a comment and share your autoimmune survival skills and strategies here!


66 responses to “Treating Yourself Kindly with an Autoimmune Disorder”

  1. I’ve had Hashimoto’s for over ten years and finally found the right doctor to treat all of my gut infections and toxins. I’m 69 years old, and the hardest part of all of this besides not being able physically to enjoy the things I used to do, is dealing with the depression that goes along with it. Thank you for showing me I need to accept my limitations and not push myself to please others.

    • Linda, constantly dealing with doctors and resting can be very isolating and that can be depressing, I’ve experienced that myself. Still, it’s so important that we rest. I wish we all could flop down in a big puppy pile together and chill. That’s what I’m envisioning for everyone who has left a comment on this post including you and me! :-)

  2. THANK YOU ELANA, for the reminder. I have MS, Fibromyalgia, and Arthritis. I have been told by so many people that housework does not count. I’m exhausted after an hour or two of doing something at home. I have been learning more and more, that to take breaks-means I will not be stuck with debilitating pain and numbness after I’m done. I used to go till I dropped. Now I can’t. I am also a fellow Coloradoan, and know what temp it is outside by the way my body feels. Thanks again for your inspiring posts!!!

    • Anna, you’re welcome! Thanks for your wonderful comment, so glad we’re on this self-care journey together :-)

  3. I so struggle with this! I have lupus and celiac, and I tire easily. My resolution this year was to Do Less, but it’s often hard to slow down until I hit that wall.

  4. Thank you so much for this post! This has been the most difficult winter for me here in western NC. It’s been cold/mild/damp, sudden changes in barometric pressures all of which have thrown me into a tizzy. I have RA, Hashi, Reynaud’s but compared to others my age, I am doing quite well. My rheumatologist encourages me to continue doing my low-impact zumba and yoga, the best therapy. He is my rock. I get so discouraged with the fatigue. It was comforting to read this blog and your followers’ comments on their fatigue. I don’t feel alone now. For the past two weeks I’ve been depressed, craved chocolate, napped in my recliner and wondered what was wrong. Little tasks tire me out. If I talk about this to my family, they don’t get it. They think I’m whining. Thank you for this post. Thank you for sharing your journey.

    • Betsy, we’ve had a similar situation here with cold dark weather and sudden barometric changes which can impact how my body feels. You are not alone and neither am I! Thanks for being on this self-care journey with me ❤️

  5. Hello Elana—
    You blog has been a constant friend alongside me all these years!! I appreciate you SO much and I am so happy to read this blog post and to be affirmed!! Thank you for getting the word out! You nailed it!!
    It has taken me years to be more compassionate with myself rather than competitive. If I do not heed the sage advice you have written— I have learned—I will land in bed for days. It is not worth it ❤️

    • Lynn, I’m write there with you! If I don’t slow down I can land in bed for days. So glad we are on this self-care journey together ❤️

  6. Thank you for confirming what I was wondering – that I need to stop & rest more often. I have Hashi’s & a back injury. The combination has made recovering from the back injury much more difficult & has taken longer than most think it should. I have folks around me that consistently want me to ‘do more’ but my body simply isn’t ready. I am learning that if I listen to my body I heal faster & don’t over-do-it regarding Hashi’s & my back.
    Thank you for your insights!

    • Lynne, you’re welcome! I know resting isn’t easy, but it’s crucial for those of us with autoimmune disease :-)

  7. I love your comments, especially about listening to your body instead of your mind…something that I grapple with often. Whenever I throw caution to the wind regarding my own physical issues and limitations, I end up paying the price. As always, thank you for sharing and helping others.

  8. Elana, this article really resonated with me. Not only do I struggle with my own Hashimoto’s, I am the caregiver for my son with cystic fibrosis. Right now I have been in a thyroid cascade and feel like every day is a decision to exercise or do housework. My doctor tells me every time I see her to “move every day!” That puts so much pressure on my performance-driven self.
    Of course, I have been told that housework = exercise, but my brain just won’t accept it, lol. My body definitely believes it though!
    Some days I can walk on the treadmill for about 15 minutes and have enough energy to do what needs to be done. Other days I just do what needs to be done. Every day, though, I try to enjoy something I like and also take a power nap. The latter is non-negotiable. =)
    Thank you for helping me feel better about my choices so I can release the guilt of my former “get it all done” glory days.

    • Georgia, I’m right there with you on releasing the guilt of my former “get it all done” glory days :-)

  9. I have several autoimmune diseases: Hashimoto’s, Primary Biliary Cholangitis, RA, Ulcerative Colitis, Raynaud’s Syndrome, GERD, NAFLD, gallbladder disease, (now removed) so I need not be running the roads, or doing too much at a time ( though I do tend to forget this, and that I’m no longer 20, when spring finally arrives! lol ) and take care of my body. Unfortunately, sometimes what I need to do for 1 disease impacts on another.
    (Food is an issue. I have to eat, but so far am struggling as the foods I can eat seem to be reducing……for instance, if my colitis is flaring, then no raw vegetables, or cooked veg with skins. Since I don’t eat wheat, sugar or artificial sweeteners, and limit dairy to butter and some cheese, seldom eat beef or pork, that leaves lean protein, white rice (or quinoa) and cooked veg– bleh. I do eat bananas and blueberries and oranges, but those are the only fruit so far that seem okay. I’ve tried almond flour and coconut flour but that inflames my colitis, as does any commercial GF flour I’ve tried.) Sorry, off-topic
    So, what do I do to help me slow down? I embroider, paint, bead, read, and garden. Okay, the last one maybe is physical work at times, but I try to limit how much I do and listen to my body. The benefits do outweigh the negatives for the enjoyment I receive from working in the gardens, and the harvest it can yield.
    I do upper body weights 5 days a week at present, and hope to return to yoga and walking daily once my injured knee is healed and all the ice is melted. As well as helping to maintain my strength, balance and agility, they are a way to focus my thoughts and help my breathing, as I often say a mantra while walking.
    It has taken me quite a while to accept that I am not as strong or as vital as I used to be, and it has taken me longer to accept that I must listen to my body more, so I can hopefully avoid more flares of my autoimmune diseases. My husband did not understand hitting the brick wall until he became ill, and had to deal with the fatigue, so we often had disagreements because things were not done, and he felt I was being lazy………which created more stress, and caused more flare-ups. Thankfully, he now does understand, and if my body is telling me that I need to rest, the housework can wait another day.

    • Susan, you’re comment inspired me. You are dealing with so much, yet meeting your body’s needs and finding incredible ways to self-soothe through healing activities. Thanks so much for sharing and being on this self-care journey with me :-)

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