You’ve already learned about my story of autoimmune disease, and my determination not to live in denial, now I share the steps I took to move forward on my healing journey. This is a path that I hope you will want to follow too:
Accept & Appreciate
We need the dark to appreciate the light. That is how I would like to think about dealing with disease. When I was diagnosed with my third autoimmune disease (Celiac) I became extremely depressed. I had already learned to push aside the symptoms of low thyroid (fatigue) and Sjögren’s Syndrome (dry eyes & mouth), but having to avoid gluten was not something I could ignore since I would become extremely ill as soon as I ate anything with wheat, rye, barley or oats. I HAD to accept it. And, at first I went through a stage of anger and depression – the “why me?” phase. But, that really didn’t last long because as soon as I started following the gluten free diet I felt so much better that I actually appreciated the diagnosis. I began to see the condition as the wake-up call that I needed to really be more diligent about everything I put into my body. I became aware of the impact that my environment had on my health, which was a really important breakthrough. And, I truly accepted that I didn’t have control, but I did have the power to change.
Create a Plan
Once I was in a place of acceptance, I was able to put together a plan. I thought about what new gluten free foods I would eat and the many ways I could live a healthier life. I ramped up my yoga practice, doing deep breathing and postures on a daily basis. And, as time went on, and I began my master’s degree program in Integrative Health & Healing (truly the ultimate plan for taking charge of my health), I added many additional stress-relieving techniques to my daily routine including meditation, qigong, aromatherapy, burning incense, wearing a mala, spending time in nature, and on and on. The plan started slowly, with new tools added on a regular basis as I began to feel better and better. (Here is an example of my Wellness Plan 2011 (PDF).)
Practice, Practice, Practice
Once the plan was in place I had to be sure that I stuck with it. That meant committing to each of the tools and practicing them until they became habit. That wasn’t easy. It takes a great deal of perseverance to stick with new routines, but when you do they become effortless. And, there is a comfort and feeling of accomplishment when you make certain rituals a part of your daily routine.
Surround Yourself in Positivity
As I have mentioned before, I believe in the Law of Attraction – that when we are positive and happy, we attract more positivity and happiness into our lives. Therefore, it was really crucial to stay away from negative people and stressful situations that drained me. That of course wasn’t always possible, but learning to say “no” more and speaking up for my needs made that a whole lot easier. Surrounding myself with the things I loved also helped tremendously – healing music, my cats, beautiful artwork, flowers, family photos, serene colors, a beautiful vision board – all made my workspace and my home places of tranquility.
Every journey begins with a single step, what is yours going to be?