If you are managing your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism 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?
Other common autoimmune diseases today include multiple sclerosis, type 1 diabetes, psoriasis, celiac disease, rheumatoid arthritis, and pernicious anemia. However, there are many, many more.
Research increasingly shows the connection between Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism 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 Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism flares. 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 Hashimoto’s 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 Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism.
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 hard on your health. Although it’s not so easy to just pop out of a bad relationship, being aware that it can trigger your Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism 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 diseases such as Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism to more easily trigger later in life. Therapies such as limbic brain re-training can help arrests the devastating effects of childhood brain changes from trauma.
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 Hashimoto’s hypothyroidism. After all, autoimmune disease is the body attacking itself. Don’t foster that with self-attacking thoughts and behaviors. Commit to being willing to work at self-love, and then be open to exploring options such as mindfulness or a new spiritual practice.
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 look easy.
But that’s not the whole picture. Autoimmune disease is a flag from the body that certain aspects of your life may need evaluating and evolving. In my patients, some of these more subtle issues are the most important.