Autoimmune diseases are conditions in which the body’s own immune system begins to attack healthy cells, like rheumatoid arthritis, psoriasis, scleroderma, multiple sclerosis, and Crohn’s disease. Statistics reveal that over 80% of those diagnosed with autoimmune diseases are women. But why is this? Scientists have long tried to figure out the factors that create this significant gender imbalance.
After 20 years of working with women worldwide suffering from various autoimmune issues, I’ve uncovered a crucial link.
In our contemporary Western culture, women are often trained from a young age to be “good girls” who are always kind, caring, and make sure everyone around them is comfortable and happy. However, society’s “good girl” blueprint subtly teaches us self-abandonment. After years of prioritizing others’ needs above our own, we come to diminish, or even forget, our own needs entirely.
By striving to emulate this idealized version of womanhood, we unintentionally inflict harm upon ourselves. The “good girl” mantra that tells us to be kind, pleasant, and put others’ comfort first, might paradoxically be the trigger point for autoimmune diseases.
In the holistic model I advocate, our bodies and minds are a unified system. By constantly demonstrating “good girl” behaviors and incorporating self-abandonment into our worldview, we instigate changes in our immune system. If self-abandonment is devaluing one’s own needs and prioritizing others’, autoimmune diseases mirror this at a cellular level. Just as self-abandonment represents an attack and devaluation of oneself, autoimmune diseases constitute a similar internal assault. Our immune system falters in caring for our own cells, just as we falter in caring for our own needs.
So, how do we begin healing? A significant first step is learning to establish boundaries. This means learning to say “no,” disappointing others, prioritizing your own needs, and acknowledging that adhering to the “good girl” norm can be harmful.
I advise you to practice self-care more assertively. Stop caring about others’ reactions to your actions. Ensure your own needs are fulfilled and you are comfortable before considering others’ feelings. Even though this seems like a significant shift, if you’ve been confined to “good girl mode,” being a bit more self-focused won’t transform you into a selfish person. You’ll just become someone who takes a moment to consider their own needs before attending to others.
This perspective shift and repair of cellular damage is integral to my client sessions. Using energy healing and coaching to reverse years of conditioning and associated dysfunction in the limbic and immune systems is essential for overcoming autoimmune diseases. If this approach resonates with you, I’d like to invite you to sign up for a consult call on my website. We can talk about your health issues and I’ll explain a bit more about how I work and what methods may be best for your next level of healing.
The human body is a complex, interconnected system in which the mind and body cooperate to sustain overall health. If you’re dealing with chronic illnesses, you may have come across the term ‘neuro-immune connection’. But what does it mean, and how is it related to your health journey?
The Neuro-Immune Connection Simplified
The neuro-immune connection describes the relationship between your nervous system—the command center of your body—and your immune system, your body’s defense force. These two systems continually communicate to respond to threats and maintain balance in your body.
When everything is in balance, this connection operates seamlessly. However, disruptions in this communication can contribute to chronic illnesses, highlighting the critical role this connection plays in our health.
The Impact of Stress on the Neuro-Immune Connection
Our modern lifestyle often exposes us to prolonged stress, impacting the neuro-immune connection. Chronic stress disrupts this delicate balance, potentially triggering or exacerbating chronic illnesses. Furthermore, if you’ve experienced childhood trauma or emotional neglect, your body may be ‘primed’ to be more susceptible to everyday stressors disrupting this balance. In my work, I’ve found that this is particularly true for people with freeze or appease stress responses.
Harnessing the Neuro-Immune Connection for Health
Fortunately, the neuro-immune connection is not immutable. Employing strategies such as somatic therapy, vagal toning, intuitive movement to music, Trauma Release Exercises (TRE), energy healing, mental practice exercises, and mindfulness-based practices can help positively influence this connection.
The Role of Holistic Care: Maggie’s Story
Maggie, a client of mine, came to me with several ongoing issues. She’d been struggling with worsening gastrointestinal problems and was now breaking out in hives all over her body. Despite various allergy tests and medication for Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), her condition didn’t improve.
Following a move to a new city with her husband, her symptoms had significantly worsened. Suspecting mold, she had her new house tested, found several strains, and spent thousands on remediation. Despite all this, her health continued to decline.
Once we began working together, it became clear that Maggie was holding onto old trauma stories within her body. The added stress from the recent move was the tipping point—her neuroimmune system was on high alert.
Over the course of about six months, Maggie and I worked together twice a month, employing a combination of energy healing, somatic work, and trauma release. By the end of that time, her health had completely transformed. She no longer experienced rashes, and her digestion normalized. In her own words, “My digestion is better than I can ever remember, even when I was young!”
I hope this exploration of the neuro-immune connection emphasizes the importance of considering the body as a connected system, especially when dealing with chronic illnesses. For those navigating these conditions, understanding this connection and taking steps to balance both the underlying immune and nervous system is key.
If you’re interested in learning more about the neuro-immune connection or need help managing a chronic illness, reach out on social media or send me an email. I’m always here to support your journey towards dynamic, vibrant health.
If you appear to be highly functional and have your shit together, but suffer with chronic symptoms, this post is for you. Let’s talk about the connection between your type of stress response and your illness.
In the world of chronic illness, there’s a peculiar irony that it tends to strike the ones who appear to ‘have it all together.’ If you’re that high achiever who seemingly juggles work, family, and life with remarkable grace, yet secretly battles chronic symptoms behind the scenes, then you’re not alone.
What does this curious link between chronic illness and the ‘freeze’ or ‘appease’ stress responses look like? Picture this: under the ‘freeze’ stress response, you might be grappling with decision paralysis or fatigue, all while keeping a brave face, ensuring the world sees you as the competent, composed individual you’ve always been.
Meanwhile, the ‘appease’ response has you bending over backward to maintain peace, potentially neglecting your health in the process. Perhaps you’re the CEO constantly overworking to please stakeholders or the parent forsaking personal health to cater to family needs. Sound familiar?
It’s not a coincidence that the same people often labeled as ‘overachievers,’ also wrestle with perfectionism and the ever-looming cloud of imposter syndrome. Striving for the impeccable and fearing exposure, you exist in a perpetual state of stress. This relentless cycle amplifies your vulnerability to chronic illnesses like ME/CFS, Lyme disease, mold illness, or long Covid.
Here’s the catch though: the very resilience and determination that bring you success also serve as your barriers to healing. You’re caught in the paradox of ‘functional suffering,’ always pushing through the pain, disregarding your needs, and internalizing the belief that you don’t deserve to rest.
One of the key pieces to healing chronic illness is using practices that create a baseline experience state of love and safety. Imagine feeling that the world and people in it are safe, ready to support you in whatever way you need, and are waiting to tell you how proud they are of not only your achievements, but who you are as a human being.
One of the best ways to start doing this is through mindfulness and meditation. These tools help you stay present, recognize and challenge destructive thought patterns, and soothe physical and mental stress. Together, they’re your secret weapons to foster an environment of safety, acceptance, and love, ultimately setting the stage for healing.
So, dear high achiever, if you’re open-minded and believe in the mind-body connection, give mindfulness and meditation a shot. Don’t let your chronic symptoms be the plot twist in your success story. Instead, let your healing journey be the empowering sequel where you redefine success, not just in terms of achievements, but also personal well-being and self-love.
After spending two decades in the field of health and healing, I have noticed an intriguing pattern: people with chronic or autoimmune illnesses frequently share three common characteristics. Far from being weaknesses, these characteristics are also inherent strengths once we understand how to navigate them. Transforming these maladaptive aspects into adaptive ones can lead to happier, healthier lives.
The Freeze or Appease Response
Under the pressure of stress, many individuals adopt one of two coping strategies: they either “freeze” or “appease.” Those in the “freeze” category might withdraw from stressful situations as a protective mechanism, they tend to walk away rather than get involved in an argument or confrontation. Those who “appease” may display an excessively accommodating nature, eager to diffuse conflict and maintain harmony even at personal expense.
This coping style can often lead to a person becoming an “internalizer” – someone more inclined to self-blame rather than attributing the issue to external factors. While this trait can foster a heightened sense of responsibility and introspection and lead to a lot of personal growth, when unregulated, it can also lead to undue self-criticism and anxiety.
High Empathy and Sensitivity
Another shared trait is a profound empathy, often present in those who are Highly Sensitive People (HSPs). This means they possess an extraordinary capacity to discern others’ moods through subtle cues, such as body language, tone of voice, or even energetic vibrations. You may not even realize you’re doing this and may think everyone has this ability, but I assure you, they do not!
However, being an HSP can make modern society’s demands challenging. HSPs often require more “tend and befriend” energy — nurturing and supportive environments — which our culture doesn’t always provide. While their heightened perception can make them excellent caregivers, educators, or counselors, the constant bombardment of stimuli can sometimes lead to overstimulation or emotional exhaustion.
Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE)
Finally, a surprising number of people with chronic or autoimmune illnesses have an ACE score of 3 or more. ACE studies refer to the exploration of how negative experiences during formative years can significantly impact a person’s health and well-being later in life. These adverse experiences range from emotionally immature parents to household dysfunction, such as substance abuse, mental illness, or parental separation.
A high ACE score often correlates with increased risk for chronic or autoimmune diseases. These experiences can alter immune and nervous systems, predisposing the individual to a variety of health conditions. Yet, understanding this link provides an opportunity for healing past traumas and working towards a healthier future.
Understanding these shared traits — the freeze or appease response, high empathy and sensitivity, and an elevated ACE score — can empower us to make essential changes. Recognizing these aspects within ourselves is the first step towards mitigating their potentially detrimental effects and harnessing their strengths.
Remember, we are not defined by our conditions or our pasts. We have the power to shape our futures, and by addressing these aspects consciously, we can influence our health positively.
Living with a chronic illness can be a daily challenge. But what if there were a way to ease some of this burden from within ourselves? Well, buckle up, because we’re about to dive into the world of meditation and how it can help you manage your chronic illness by shifting the function of both your immune and nervous system.
Meditation is a diverse practice, with various techniques that all aim to integrate the mind and body, cultivating a state of deep relaxation and mental tranquility. These techniques might include focusing on particular sensations, such as the breath, a sound, a visual image, or a mantra. The ultimate goal is to enhance both physical and emotional well-being.
The benefits of meditation extend beyond a sense of calm and balance. Interestingly, meditation can also influence the neuroimmune system, our body’s intricate network that integrates neural, hormonal, and immune communication. Meditation is thought to counteract the effects of the sympathetic nervous system, which increases heart rate, breathing, and blood pressure during times of stress. By reducing the stress response, meditation initiates beneficial effects throughout the body.
Research has found that mindfulness meditation affects two different stress pathways in the brain, changing brain structures and activity in regions associated with attention and emotion regulation. There’s also preliminary evidence suggesting that mindfulness could boost the immune system, potentially aiding in faster recovery from illnesses like the common cold or flu.
But how does this apply to chronic diseases? Well, meditation has been shown to help manage symptoms of conditions such as anxiety, asthma, cancer, chronic pain, depression, heart disease, high blood pressure, and irritable bowel syndrome.
A 2018 analysis supported by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH) found that mindfulness meditation approaches were effective in managing anxiety, stress, and depression. Furthermore, meditation can strengthen the immune response, reduce anxiety, and improve sleep – critical components of self-care when managing a chronic illness. Mindfulness has also been shown to alleviate symptoms such as pain and fatigue in individuals with chronic pain conditions.
In fact, a research review published in JAMA Internal Medicine found that meditation was beneficial in relieving anxiety, pain, and depression, with its effect on depression being roughly equivalent to an antidepressant.
Although almost all types of meditation will be beneficial, if you’re looking to try a meditation that’s specifically for healing, I have one here that you’re welcome to try and see how it feels: Heal Your Health Issue Meditation by Megan Caper
So, there you have it – meditation might just be the key to unlocking a healthier, happier you and is a powerful tool for those managing chronic illnesses. And the best part? You don’t need any fancy equipment or expensive classes to get started – all you need is a quiet space, a few minutes of your time, and an open mind.