If you are managing your autoimmune disease through diet and lifestyle, then you probably know about the autoimmune diet, supplements, non-toxic home and body products, and getting enough rest.
But are you aware of hidden sources of stress that may be triggering autoimmune flares?
Common autoimmune diseases today include Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, or pernicious anemia. However, there are many more.
Research increasingly shows the connection between autoimmune disease and food sensitivities (such as to gluten) and environmental toxins. Indeed, many people have successfully sent their autoimmunity into remission by following an autoimmune diet and “going green” with the products they use.
We also know stress is inflammatory and can trigger autoimmunity. But what many people may miss is the hidden sources of this inflammation-triggering stress.
Little known triggers of autoimmune disease
Following are little known sources of stress that could be triggering autoimmune disease flare-ups:
Stressful TV shows: Turning on the flat screen to relax could backfire if you’re watching people always on the run from zombies. Research shows watching others stress out can raise our own stress hormones. On top of that, many people feel like failures after they watch TV, which is stressful. Try a productively calming hobby, like practicing an instrument or working with your hands while listening to music to calm your nerves, and your immune system.
Social media: Research shows social media users are more stressed out than non-users. Facebook and Twitter can make us feel like we always have to put on a happy face and that we’re not as successful as our friends. The addictive nature of social media is also stressful. As with all good things, practice moderation. And go see your friends in real life — socialization is a well-known stress buster and health booster that can help you better manage your autoimmune disease.
A bad relationship: We get so used to some relationships we don’t even realize they’re unhealthy. For instance, researchers have shown bad marriages are linked with more stress and inflammation. Bad bosses have also been shown to be bad for your health. Although it’s not so easy to just pop out of a bad relationship, being aware that it can trigger your autoimmune symptoms can help you start moving in a healthier direction.
A difficult childhood: Research shows links between a history of childhood adversities (neglect, disruption, trauma, abuse) and autoimmune disease. Chronic stress while the brain and central nervous system are still developing can create ongoing inflammation and set the stage for autoimmune disease to more easily trigger later in life.
Lack of self-love: How well you love and respect yourself influences your choice in relationships, your career, and how you handle problems. Do you talk to and treat yourself with the same kindness you would an adored child? Do you care for your needs the same way you do a pampered pet? If you bully yourself, you’re unwittingly triggering your autoimmunity. After all, autoimmune disease is the body attacking itself. Don’t foster that with self-attacking thoughts and behaviors. Commit to practicing small acts of self-love throughout your days.
When you look at issues like a bad childhood, a toxic relationship, or lack of self-love, it makes changing your diet and switching to natural body products suddenly look easy. But it’s not the whole picture. Autoimmune disease is a flag from the body that certain aspects of your life may need evaluating and evolving.