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The Mindset Shifts Needed for Coping With a Chronic Illness

Updated: Jun 7, 2022

The transcript can be found under the video.

In today's video, I will be talking about the importance of mindset shifts and specifically which mindset shifts have been the most powerful in my POTS healing journey as well as what I've seen with my clients.

I used to roll my eyes every time somebody mentioned the word mindset and its effects on health. This largely had to do with the fact that for years when I was trying to get a diagnosis, and later on when I was trying to get help. Once I did have a diagnosis, people would often tell me that my illness was in my head. Then, they would suggest things like therapy and mind-body modalities.

I think this is extremely common when you're dealing with a poorly understood condition. As you might relate, they run all the tests on you. They say, "well you know everything came back good. Everything came back clean. You're healthy or the picture of health, so it's most likely anxiety or psychosomatic or something like that." Whereas, we do know that just because the tests come back clean does not mean there's not necessarily something there.

I easily came to treat the word mindset as a trigger word. For me, it implied my POTS and the other illnesses that I was struggling with were psychosomatic and that it was all in my head. Of course, we know that conditions like POTS, EDS, chronic fatigue, Long Covid, are real conditions. They're not in our heads.

But over time, I realized that to minimize my physical symptoms, I couldn't just focus on the body and mind. How do you go about doing this? In the beginning, I used to focus a lot on the body. I looked at a lot of different theories about what could be happening, different doctors and specialists; and I did genetic testing and all kinds of testing.

I was continuously looking for further testing and trying to figure out and pinpoint the actual root cause, and I was never satisfied. Looking at a variety of medicines and supplements, as well as things like the living protocol, all of these things can help quite a bit. At the same time, I realized that I was overdoing it physically and causing a lot of emotional and physical stress, on my body and mind. I was obsessed with finding that perfect answer and it was only when I realized that there would have to be a major shift in how I saw life.

How did I do life? How or what I was about to do that changes occurred?

Now, I'm not saying, "Oh! think happy thoughts, and everything will be okay." That is a really crude oversimplification. That's not how it works. It's more about taking the bigger picture and looking at what else in life can you change? How can you use this opportunity to shift some things around and grow? So really reframing it in that way.

"I don't think anything in the way I was doing things was working," a client recently said, "so might as well use this opportunity to work with you and redo everything. Let's start from scratch." This shift in mindset has led them to honestly change everything about the way they're living their lives, go back to basics, try new things, and get in touch more with that inner voice inside of them. Through hard work, they've shifted and re-shifted their priorities which have been difficult because it has to do a lot with our values and how we've been raised.

Various mindsets shift about everything we think is a success, everything we should be doing. It's been so inspiring to see, as they've already seen so many positive changes in the energy levels and stress levels.

Mindset And Its Effect on Health

Now, I consider myself to be pretty open-minded but skeptical. I always go back to the research. As you might have noticed in my other videos, I always try to point out some studies, and they're particularly quite a bit of study on mindset and health.

There was a study that involved milkshakes which, of course, caught my eye and my sweet tooth as well. There were two groups of people both were given a 380-calorie milkshake. One group was told this is 620-calories "it's an indulgent shake," and then another group of people was told this is 140-calories "it's a sensible shake." And when participants believed that they were drinking this indulgent 620-calorie shake, they had a much larger decline in ghrelin.

Now ghrelin is this hunger-inducing hormone, so it regulates our metabolism. And the other group was not the same. They certainly did not have such a decline which was interesting. So this group responded, and physically their bodies physiologically responded as if they had consumed more calories. That is just a tiny example.

More and more research into this and it's been fascinating to see. We've known this for a long time looking at the placebo effect. The way we view things and engage with things and how our minds think about things matters a lot. An important mindset shift is also required in relation to comparison.

Comparing to Before

Now, as humans, we compare a lot. It's quite normal. In my own personal experience, I was diagnosed with a major depressive illness in high school. It came out of nowhere. It was a really difficult time in my life. I dropped out of school actually as a result of it. Even at that time, I was confident that I would improve.

I'd sort of pick up books. You could probably tell by now the way my brain is like. I started picking up books, researching, and trying to figure out, okay, what's happening here? How can I get better? I thought for sure that when I could, I would get better.

Everything would be the same as before, but it never was. I did get better. Although I no longer suffer from depression, the situation remained the same. I waited for years for that moment when you knew everything will be the same. But then I recognized what had occurred: I had changed. I became a lot more thoughtful and less impulsive. I was just more naturally tuned into my emotions and body, and I knew how to get myself out of those deep, dark pits.

So when POTS came around, I did keep that in mind, not to compare to who I used to be. I realized that the new person, the new post POTS me, would be different. I told myself things would get better. They'll never be the same. This is also because no matter what obstacles we come across in life change us.

And with something like POTS, I have found that you have to strip life down to the basics for ultimate success. So that means, that for sure your life will look different than your old one, in a better way though.

For example, you could have been working a corporate job and then went out for drinks with your coworkers after working 12+ hour shifts. On weekends, you might even be running errands and caring for your family. That's a pretty packed schedule. But the new you might be completely different.

Your career and responsibilities might change. And with this, there is very much of a need and mourning process. I'm not saying to ignore those feelings, but also try to be excited at the new life you are crafting. If you love your previous career, you've had to take a break from it, or we'll be forced to take a break from it rather.

How can you still do that with less strain on the body? With what modifications? At least in the meantime, until your body is strong enough. Or you might find even, which I've seen that this happens a lot, your priorities change.

Everything in your life will change, including the way you see things and interact with them, and your profession is a huge part of that. That's kind of like not comparing things to the way they used to be and instead of being open to the future and the new opportunities it will offer. However, the second part of this is to avoid comparing yourself to others.

Comparing to others is not that beneficial either. A lot of people always ask me, what did you do to heal yourself or get better? It's such a difficult question for me to answer not because I don't want to share the information or anything but because of what I've seen as each person. Not just that I've worked with the people that I've met along the years too that have gotten better, but their journeys are just so distinctly different. I believe in honoring that. My journey is completely different than yours.

Some people might also get POTS because of covid, childbirth, mold, or some other trauma. Even two people that have Long Covid, for example, will not have the same journey. If someone did something and they've noticed a significant improvement in their symptoms, and you've tried the exact same thing, but it didn't work, don't despair and try not to compare.

I also used to go into a spiral where every time I had a flare-up, I would compare myself to people who had a lot worse symptoms than I did. I was just sure, that's the next step. I'll be in their shoes soon enough. It didn't help at all. There was no need for me to be going in that direction, but of course, it happened.

That's why it's also so important to follow inspirational stories of success for persistence and motivation purposes.

Consistency and Habits

When you try one thing, and it doesn't work, it's important not to despair. That's easier said than done when you've tried a lot of things. However, thinking is another way to refrain. Well, you know what? I've taken that off my list. Now there are fewer things to try, and I'll find my thing soon.

For example, I had SIBO, and I've tried so many things for it. Mostly because with the gut, I feel like there are also many different kinds of tests you could run. There are so many different kinds of things you could do. The last resort for me was trying this diet called the elemental diet. It's where you drink pretty much these shakes for a few weeks.

It was not super cheap. It's difficult because you're just drinking these really sweet shakes. I thought for sure that would work. I thought it would work once I was done, but it didn't. But then I realized it, along with a lot of other things, that was off my list. But now I am able to. I could alter my testing in this way and try various other things. So, I'm getting closer to what it could be. And I have gotten closer to where I think, I have figured out some sensitivities that might have also caused a large part of those problems.

With that, the process of consistency is also important. With flare-ups, consistency can be really tough. Let's say that you're trying to go gluten-free, as you might have seen in my last video for a month. Then you have a tough day emotionally. So you might have a pizza or something similar one week, and then the next week, you might have a sandwich or something in a rush.

"Well, this gluten-free stuff doesn't work for me," you could conclude, but consider whether you gave it a fair shot? I've done this a lot more times than I care to admit. So it's really important also not to be too tough on yourself. When this happens, you pick up the pieces and start again. So don't give up!

That's probably also why health coaching is growing so quickly as a profession because health coaches help people with setting up habits, long-term habits. As we could all probably relate to, these habits are not easy at first to form.

The Power of Intuition

There's a certain kind of tools that help make it easier and a certain kind of support that helps a lot. And with this also comes so much of the power of intuition. That's the other reason why I don't necessarily share or say, "This is what worked for me; you'll do the same thing."

Partly because I've seen that even when I shared my story and told them what the magic recipe worked for me, people weren't necessarily drawn to that. They were drawn to other kinds of other modalities. I found that interesting and respected that. I leaned in and wanted to learn more. I had a client who was drawn to vagal retraining, massage, and cold showers.

It's not like this is again the magic cure. It's not the only thing they did, and they were cured, but they all noticed positive differences in how they felt, their energy levels, and their symptoms despite the fact that they used such drastic methods. So, it's really interesting to lean into that. And you know, think about it.

What may be working in the situation? What do I want more of in my life? What do I want less of in my life? What am I drawn to? What's kind of speaking to me? And listen to that little voice and trust it.

Even if sometimes, you might be interested in something too. This is another part where we're perhaps interested in a modality like reiki. What's the scientific evidence behind it? What's going on? That's also when I think it's important to also tune in to that little voice and see, okay, well maybe I would want to try this how would this work? Really keep an open mind.

What has been the biggest mindset shift so far that you've had? How has it benefited you?

Let me know in the comments below.


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