Psoriasis is a condition that affects the skin. Psoriasis makes the skin red and itchy, and scaly patches come up on certain parts of the skin. It is a genetic condition and it generally affects the knees, elbows, and the scalp. Psoriasis can also affect the legs, nails, and trunk. Many people get thick silvery scales on their skin along with elevated itchy plaques where the skin becomes raised and red. Though the condition is not contagious, it is a condition that causes a lot of mental agony to the patients as it affects the outward appearance of people.
There is no treatment available that can completely cure the condition, but many topical and systemic treatments are available to manage the symptoms of psoriasis. The entire trick to keeping psoriasis under control is to manage your lifestyle accordingly. Research has now shown that there is a direct relationship between stress and a flare-up of your psoriasis symptoms. In fact, many have observed that they had their first flare-up during a time in their lives when they were undergoing tremendous stress.
When you are suffering from a great deal of stress, you will often notice that your psoriasis will flare up and you will be itching much more. Research has shown that psoriasis patients actually get relief from their symptoms when they engage in activities that lower their stress levels. While on a general level finding ways to reduce stress improves the quality of your life, this is particularly so for psoriasis sufferers.
A study done by the American Academy of Dermatology has shown that when a person is stressed, it tends to have a negative impact on the nervous system, flaring up inflammatory conditions like psoriasis. Taking steps to reduce your stress levels helps put a stop to the body’s inflammatory response, thus presenting a flare-up of itchiness and red lesions that are commonly associated with plaque psoriasis.
10 Simplified Stress Busting activities for Psoriasis Sufferers
There are many stress busting activities you can engage in either from the comfort of your home or in your community as well. Let us take a look at these simplified activities that can help lower your stress levels and reduce the severity of your psoriasis symptoms.
Meditation, particularly mindfulness meditation, is a unique technique of meditation that focuses your attention and awareness to the present moment. Start by sitting still and close your eyes. Now focus on your breathing. For a period of 15 minutes at least, slow down your thoughts and let the self-doubt and self-judgement leave your body. Even listening to a meditation tape is known to provide good results.
Exercise and Get the Body Moving
Any form of exercise, be it yoga or Tai Chi, is known to lower your stress levels. These are excellent forms of movement therapy that help improve the energy flow throughout the body. Some slower forms of yoga also use the technique of mindfulness breathing exercises, while at the same time allowing movement to stretch. Yoga and Tai Chi are both known to not only improve your mood, but also increase blood circulation in the body, making you feel well from inside. Also, exercise in any form helps release endorphins, which are the feel-good hormones in your body. While exercises themselves will not help control your psoriasis plaques, but it will help shift your focus to certain aspects of your health that you can control. When you feel more in control, you are likely to feel less stressed, thus helping your psoriasis symptoms.
Have a Support Group
Many patients of psoriasis have found that by being a part of a support group helps them deal with their stress levels and also provides a much needed break from the psoriasis-stress connection. By not worrying constantly about their skin condition, the people are able to overcome the chronic stress that psoriasis causes. Talking to people who share the same experience as you and discussing different ways of dealing with your condition, is known to be extremely cathartic.
Spend Time Outdoors
Spending a little time outside of the house, surrounded by nature, is known to lower your stress levels. You can try cycling, going for a short walk, taking a hike, or just going for a picnic in the woods with your friends to take your mind off of psoriasis. You can also combine your favorite exercise and take it outside to help lower the chances of a flare-up.
Wear Loose Clothes
Clothes that are tight-fitting or are made from synthetic materials rub against the skin and cause irritation to the skin’s surface, thus causing your psoriasis to flare up. When this happens, it obviously becomes a stressful and uncomfortable situation for anyone. To get relief, particularly in the summer months, wear clothes are loose fitting and that are made from cotton or any other natural fibers.
Identify Potential Stress Triggers
Everyone experiences stress different and for different reasons. If you make an effort to identify what causes you stress, you will be feeling less vulnerable and susceptible to a flare-up of your symptoms. You can try to jot down what factors heighten your anxiety, making you feel stressed. If you have an idea about what triggers your stress, then you will be able to manage these situations better, thus preventing the situation from getting out of control. You will also feel more in control of yourself if you already know how your body is going to respond to such triggers.
Have a Long Warm Soak
One of the best ways to relax and soothe your body is to soak in a warm bath. The calming effect of a warm bath helps you break free from the psoriasis stress cycle and completely relax. But don’t make the water too hot as hot water can cause irritation to your skin and flare up your psoriasis. You can begin with lukewarm water and soak for no more than 15 minutes, as longer than that will cause your skin to dry out. The drier your skin gets, the more you will want to itch and the vicious cycle will begin again. Don’t forget to use a good creamy moisturizer all over your body to help trap the moisture in the skin itself.
Don’t Miss Out On Your Sleep
Everyone knows how important sleep is to the well being of your body. However, few actually follow this. Sleep is an important factor especially for patients of psoriasis. It has been observed that people having psoriasis tend to suffer from more frequent flare-ups if they are stressed and fatigued. Fatigue is also one of the most important contributors to stress. Try to follow a particular routine before you go to sleep. Practice some deep breathing, put away your mobile and other electronics at least an hour before bedtime, and definitely do not consume any alcoholic beverages or caffeine in the evenings – this is a sure shot formula to keep your brain wide awake.
Indulge in Activities That Are Fun
Having fun is one of the best ways to avoid stress and remain chilled out. Be it a simple activity as a walk around the block, or a short run, if you enjoy doing something, then you must take out some time for indulging yourself as well. If you like playing the piano, then by all means spend an hour simply lost in this activity. Even playing with your child or your dog is a great stress buster. Indulging in fun activities will make you a happier person, which will reduce your stress levels, and help keep your psoriasis under control.
Talk to a Professional
Sometimes all you need to do to feel less stressed is to talk it out. Stress management is difficult and having a professional guide you along the way can be a big help. A therapist might help you discover some new strategies of how to lower and manage your stress. This also helps keep feelings of depression at bay and stops you from feeling isolated.
There is no doubt that it is difficult to manage stress in our daily lives, which are perhaps beyond chaotic and difficult to manage. Each of us is dealing with a set of problems that is different than others. This is why stress management tactics also differ from person to person. People living with psoriasis should take proactive measures to keep stress under control so that they can avoid having a flare-up and also improve the overall quality of their health and their lives. Managing stress also makes you feel much more in control of your life, allowing you to make rational decisions when required.
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