Is stress the cause for your thyroid illness and how can voluntarily simplicity reverse it?
by Svetla Bankova
Before you proceed reading, my dear reader, please do me a favor: close your eyes, take a deep breath and answer the question below:
“How would my life improve if I owned less stuff, did a few things only and said “no” more often?”
I’ve been asked many times in the past 11 years what exactly did I to cure myself from Graves’ disease and what was this one thing that helped me the most? There isn’t such one thing, you know, and there isn’t a 24 hours makeover….
However, there is this one thing that changed my life completely and it is called “voluntarily simplicity”. You can not call it “one thing”, but it’s a life philosophy…. and many things are included in these two simple words.
Stress is a high risk factor in patients with thyroid auto-immune disorders, as found in a research by Kung, and posted in Clinical Endocrinology in 2008. The researchers found that patients with Graves’ disease experienced greater psychological stress and adverse events prior to the onset of the disease. They also concluded that as stress may change the immune system, it could play an important role in precipitating the disease in patients predisposed to auto-immune thyroid disorders.
So, how my stress levels were affected by simplifying my life? Voluntarily simplicity had the most impact in my life, when I was trying to cure my Graves’ Disease. Other things were also involved like diet, supplements, herbs, yoga, aromatherapy, etc. –but that simplicity played the biggest role ever… How, you may ask?
Let me tell you how I look at voluntarily simplicity: simplicity is not about misery, or frugality, or being thrifty. It’s about discovering the important between many unimportant things.
Let’s travel back in time…In 2003, when I was freshly diagnosed with Graves’ disease, I was forced to I give up a lot of things that weren’t “so necessary” in my life, including, but not limited to the material stuff. It was either me, my health or “the things”.
That also meant that I accepted to live with a smaller income (almost twice smaller in fact), and way less stress (not to mention the 2 hours driving torture)! It also meant getting out of debt, and that was possible too! I’ve lived years with and without debt, I can appreciate the difference. Today, if I can’t afford to buy something right there, I don’t buy it. That gives me a huge peace of mind.
All these things that I “gave up” became the key for my healing, and living without stress and no alarm clock has no price tag, ever.
I had time, and time is a limited commodity as you know, so speaking I was “time- rich”. I also had the “do- nothing” time. I had space. I had energy. I could breathe, metaphorically and literally speaking. I could do things slowly and just take my time. I stopped yelling at family members and friends for no reason. Instead, I smiled. They could not make me angry or frustrated, my “stress buttons” were off…I had time for fun and sport. I had time to talk to people, even to sales people, and I actually did. I had time to spend time with myself and ask “What would you like to do now, Svetla? How are you feeling today, honey?”
Simplicity breeds harmony, patience and compassion.
Simplicity is subtracting the unnecessary and adding the meaningful.
Simplicity could be applied to all aspects of our lives, not just part of it. The simpler, the better, that’s my motto. I am not saying that you should live ascetic life, or in poverty, neither did I. It’s a voluntary lifestyle choice. I am mostly talking about reducing possessions that we don’t need, being stuck in the wanting mode, the never satisfied hunger for material things, the wow- entertainment, the mindless action, increasing the quality of life versus quantity of activities, it’s about learning to slow down and smell the roses.
It’s also about simple diet and simple food. When I look at a cook book and see these “page long recipes”, I just close the book. It will take me days to gather all the ingredients, not to mention the hours spent in the kitchen. I try to eat simple things, and I did not died of hunger the last 11 years. A boiled egg, a sliced tomato with salt, a piece of homemade bread with butter. Finally, “we are what we eat”, so try to eat simple.
Sort out your life– examine what is important and what is not, re-arrange your priorities, try to say “no” many times, to many things and to many people. The more I say “no”, the more I see how many more “no’s” I should’ve said.
Forget multi-tasking. If you are doing two or more things at once, you’re not doing either of them. Or you are just poorly doing them with a lot of frustration and stress as well. I know, too many things to do, no time at all. That’s the moment when you drop things out of your “to do list”. This is crucial for healing Graves’ disease. Try to juggle 5 balls, no try 2 balls….what’s easier?
Simplicity also means de-cluttering. Throwing away. Discovering “enough” for you. Valuing “the ordinary”. Going to a few places in one day, rather than more. Watching less, so you can see more. Carrying less, so you can climb more. Talking less, so you can hear more. Assuming less, so you can succeed more. Competing less, so you can excel more. Paying attention.
There is no one way to do simple living right. Simplicity has many faces, these are just some of them. Find yours and stick with them. Or just experiment. For example, try the “The One Week Closet Experiment”. I borrowed the idea from Dave Bruno’s book The 100 Thing Challenge. Here’s how to do this experiment:
- Open your closet and pick up enough clothes for one week.
- Store these one week clothes in a separate section in your closet.
- Over the next month only wear from the items in this section.
- Evaluate the result. I promise you’ll be very surprised!
So, need a starting point? Here are some questions that can give you a jump start on your road to simplicity:
What is it about your current lifestyle that is not working for you?
What it is that is causing friction?
What is this one thing you can do now, today, that will improve your life?
Well now, get up and do it!
More strategies for living a simpler, happier and healthier life in my newest book “Mental, Emotional and Psychological Aspects of thyroid disorders”.