Preventing Eczema through Stress Management
Stress is the root of many ailments, either as the cause or as a trigger that can exacerbate feeling overwhelmed. This stress can impact and weaken your immune system and make eczema sufferers more prone to flare ups.
There are steps you can take to ease your stress level. Start by examining the source of the stress and ask yourself what is in your control and what actions can you do to change the source. In the case of stresses that are not within your control, you can still take steps to counter your reaction and the way that you manage the stress. Take action where you can.
Learn and practice relaxation techniques. Countering stress by seeking relaxation, massage, aromatherapy, and even hypnosis can all be good options to help relieve eczema symptoms and recurrence, and to improve your overall well being. Prayer and yoga are helpful to a great number of people around the world. Breathing exercises and meditation can also be very beneficial and even life changing for many people. There are many different techniques that can calm the mind. Do some research on relaxation techniques and try to find methods that resonate with you.
Exercise and stay active. Studies have shown that physical activity helps to moderate mood and shed stress. Exercise will help you to feel better and to feel more prepared to handle problems. Jogging and other aerobic exercises are good for some people, while yoga, tai chi, and stretching are better for others.
Emotions & Attitude
Your reactions, emotions, and overall attitude play a strong role in the way that you process stress. Have you ever heard of the Four A’s of Managing Stress? Optimism or pessimism can affect your overall quality of life. Work on keeping a more positive outlook. When you change your emotional response, you can change the way that you respond to life stresses in general. Check your current reactions. Is your stress-response really proportionate to the trigger, or are you being caught in reactions and habits that contribute to feelings of overwhelm?
Managing stress does not mean eliminating all of the stressors from your life; it’s natural to encounter stress. Optimism enables a person to cope better in stressful situations which can reduce the effects of stress on the body.
It’s not necessarily about controlling those stressors, but instead it’s about controlling the way that you respond to those stressors. Shifting to a more realistic, objective attitude will allow you to respond more moderately even when you encounter stressful situations that are beyond your control.
Avoid. Alter. Adapt. Accept. Choose your course of action and work within each of these categories for improved reactions in any given situation.
If you lapse into your old habits and reactions, don’t give up. Focus on what you can do to keep your cool and regain control of the situation.
A healthful diet will contribute positively to your overall mood. When your diet is filled of vegetables, fruit, lean protein, and healthy fats, your body will be in better balance and will be less susceptible to mood swings and negative reactions.
Avoid consuming too much sugar; it can cause a blood sugar rollercoaster that is bound to contribute to turbulent stress levels. Though it might feel natural to reach for fatty and sugary comfort food when you’re under pressure, they can add to your problems and to the disharmony of your mood.
Also be careful not to consume too much caffeine which can agitate the system. Don't rely on alcohol, drugs, or food as stress-soothers as they are only mollifying in the moment but more stress-inducing in the long run.
Lack of sleep, or lack of quality sleep, can definitely be a stress contributor in a person’s life. It’s important to get enough rest. Sleep is the way that your body recovers from strenuous events. Eczema sufferers can definitely suffer from sleep deprivation from itching and scratching. Studies report that individuals with eczema can loose up to two hours a night from scratching. Eczema undergarments made out of tencel® and tencel® sheets can really alleviate the itch of eczema at night. Also, bathing in warm water and immediately applying a moisturizer like Vaniply can help minimize itching at bedtime.
Learn to say no to commitments that contribute to your high stress level. Saying yes to everything comes at the price of stress in your life, and less peace of mind. You don’t have to be everything to everyone, and learning to say no takes practice but is a skill worth mastering. Value your time and space by creating barriers that will protect you from spreading yourself too thin.
Make more room in your life for hobbies, interests, and relaxation rather than commitments to other people. Creating time to spend quality time with loved ones is also important, but make sure that it’s quality time.
Seek Work-Life Balance
If you’re spending more time at work than you are at home, you’re missing out on a rewarding personal life that’s important for your overall health and well-being. At the same time, if you’re facing problems in your personal life like a break up, a sick family member, or marital problems, your life balance itself might need some attention and soothing. Whatever the cause, feeling out of balance leads to stress and can have harmful effects on your health. Find ways to eliminate or improve those areas that need balancing.
If you are dealing with any difficult relationships, learn to stand up for yourself in a firm but polite way. Avoid becoming defensive, angry, or passive and instead learn to share your feelings in a more communicative way.
In tough times, a strong social network is important. Friends and family can provide comfort in times of need. Also, look into eczema support groups in your community. Contact the National Eczema Association for a list of eczema support groups in your area at www.nationaleczema.org.
There are tangible stress relieving tools, but exploring your spirituality can also be very comforting to many people. Spirituality can mean many different things to different people and is a very personal journey. Connecting with your spiritual side can lead to a clearer life purpose which can relieve a lot of pressure and questions from a person’s life.
Stress is different for every person and there is no single blanket stress reduction strategy that will work for all people. Figuring out what works for you may be an ongoing journey that requires adjustment and course correction along the way. Whatever management tools you use, remember that chronic, ongoing stress can wear down the body's natural defenses, leading to symptoms that can include eczema flares. Stress management techniques should be used in combination with conventional topical therapies.