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Article written by Tanya Douglas
In this day and age, it’s almost impossible not to hear people talking about mindfulness. But what does it mean exactly? Mindfulness is defined as the capacity to be entirely present and aware of your feelings, thoughts, sensations, and surroundings. It also entails accepting your thoughts and feelings without any judgment. As a result, you can let go of all the things you cannot change and relax. This is something that piqued the interest of researchers. So, they started to make inquiries about the effects of mindful meditation on physical and mental health. Their findings show that mindful meditation is more than a spiritual self-care practice; it also has a positive impact on your health. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the benefits of mindful meditation for autoimmune disorders.
What are autoimmune disorders?
Your immune system represents your defense system against viruses and bacteria. Normally, your immune system differentiates between your cells and the foreign ones and attacks only the latter. However, when you’re suffering from an autoimmune disorder, the immune system mistakes one for the other, thus attacking your healthy cells as well.
What causes autoimmune disorders?
One of the most significant issues is that we still don’t know what causes these autoimmune disorders. However, research shows that some people are more prone to them than others. For instance, some people inherit a susceptibility to autoimmune disorders from their families. This applies to diseases like lupus and multiple sclerosis. At the same time, statistics show that the incidence of lupus is higher in the Hispanic and African American ethnic groups.
Nevertheless, the increasing number of cases has made researchers consider the implication of external factors and stimuli. While more studies must be conducted to confirm this theory, there are some suspected risk factors. These include exposure to various chemicals and infections, an unhealthy diet, and stress. Furthermore, these factors are not only associated with the triggering of the disease but also with disease flares.
What are the treatment options?
Unfortunately, there is no cure for autoimmune disorders. One of the reasons is that we don’t know exactly what causes them. Another reason is the wide range of autoimmune disorders that affect different body parts differently. Therefore, treatment options usually focus on controlling the overactive immune response. Medication is also used to relieve pain, inflammation, skin rashes, and fatigue. So, where does mindful meditation for autoimmune disorders come in? Let’s take a look.
Mindful meditation for autoimmune disorders can help you relieve stress
As previously mentioned, researchers suspect that stress can trigger both the autoimmune disorders themselves and the associated flares. Therefore, reducing your stress levels should be a top priority. Now, stress is caused by many factors. On the one hand, you might be dealing with stressful financial, professional, or family problems. On the other hand, you’ll be dealing with the emotional and physical stress that comes with being diagnosed with an autoimmune disorder.
Mindful meditation can help you relieve some of that stress and feel your absolute best. The goal of this practice is to achieve focused attention and equanimity. The first reduces your brain’s reaction to stressful stimuli. The second inhibits the ruminative type of thinking that triggers the stress pathway. The subsequent relaxation leads to the following:
An increase in the vagal tone. This can regulate your immune system and control
gastrointestinal inflammation and sensitivity, among other things.
A decrease in hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal activity. This helps control stress reactions and regulate various body processes, such as the immune system and even your mood.
It can help you cope with various challenges
People suffering from autoimmune disorders face a lot of challenges and frustration. For example, some patients don’t even see it, but they struggle with extreme fatigue or chronic pain. At the same time, other patients deal with disfigurement due to joint deformities, rashes, and changes in the texture and color of their skin. Moreover, the fact that you have to constantly explain your condition to employers, colleagues, and loved ones is also very frustrating and stressful.
Coping with all of these things is extremely hard. So, it’s no wonder many patients with autoimmune disorders also struggle with depression. But the good news is that mindful meditation can help with all of that. When you use meditation for depression, you can change your negative thinking pattern and increase your vagal tone. Furthermore, mindfulness will help you understand that you don’t have to give any explanations and that you don’t need a cure to live a fulfilling life.
Mindful meditation can help you overcome other comorbidities
As the saying goes: misfortune never comes alone. And unfortunately, this is often the case for people with autoimmune disorders. Studies show that many of these patients also struggle with other psychological and neuropsychiatric comorbidities. The most common include depression, anxiety and mood disorders, phobias, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. But once again, mindful meditation can help you overcome these conditions when combined with proper therapy.
However, another comorbidity that people often forget about is addiction. It should come as no surprise that being diagnosed with an incurable disease can lead to addiction. Even more so when the autoimmune disorder also causes physical pain. But we all know this is not a solution. Firstly, you should enroll in an addiction treatment program. Secondly, you can use mindful meditation. This practice promotes mental health and addiction recovery. Thus, it can help you focus on your health much better.
A diagnosis of an autoimmune disorder can be hard to accept. But even if there’s no cure, most of these conditions are manageable for a long time. Therefore, you can live and enjoy a fulfilling life despite your diagnosis. You need a little help getting there. As you’ve seen, there are many benefits of mindful meditation for autoimmune disorders. But one of the best things is that it helps you identify and accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment. This, in turn, will eventually enable you to come to terms with your condition and live life to the fullest.
Another alternative for autoimmune disorders is Reiki. See how Reiki has helped others with autoimmune disorders like lupus. And as always, if you need assistance I'm happy to help.
Thanks again to Tayna for the great information!