Tips to help you feel calm and relaxedResearch suggests that stress may be a factor leading to the first ever flare up or the aggravation of existing psoriasis.1 Many psoriasis patients also experience stress and anxiety from the emotional strain of living with a skin disease.
Research also shows that stress can heighten your experience of pain and make your psoriasis symptoms worse.1 Learning simple techniques to help change your thinking and keep stress levels under control could help lessen the discomfort of your symptoms.
If you feel stress is an important factor in your psoriasis, you might want to consult your doctor who may be able to help with stress management techniques and activities, or refer you for more specialized support.
Proven stress-beating steps
There are many different schools of thought when it comes to helping patients with stress and anxiety associated with psoriasis. Below are some simple techniques that have been found to be helpful for some psoriasis patients.
When you are feeling happy and confident, you may find your psoriasis much easier to manage.
1. Try deep breathingTry resting one hand on your stomach. Breathe in deeply through your nose, letting your stomach push your hand out. Then breath out slowly through your mouth and feel the hand go back. Try this up to 10 times. 2
2. Exercise regularlyPhysical activity is one of the easiest and best ways to deal with stress. It encourages the release of feel-good hormones called endorphins, and research has shown that people can improve their mental wellbeing by exercising for just 20 minutes a week – although the more exercise you do, the more positive you will feel. 3
Find a sport you like; it will increase your stamina and your resistance and help you to relax.
3. Write it downWriting worries down stops them going round and round in your head, and it may be easier to see solutions to problems once they’re on paper. One study found that writing about your fears for just 10 minutes before a stressful event (such as an important test) may help you feel less anxious and more in control. 4
Take some time to work out what’s bothering you. Making a list of your worries can help clear your mind and allow you to tackle each problem one by one. Starting with the most important one, write down the steps you are going to take to eliminate stress from your life.
4. Spend time in natureGetting out into the countryside or your local park is a great way to de-stress. Researchers have found that communing with nature for just five minutes a day can do wonders for your mental health.5
5. Play with a petPsychologists have found that pet owners are often less lonely, fearful and preoccupied than non-pet owners, and have higher self-esteem.6
6. Focus on the positiveIt can be helpful to focus on the things in life that make you happy. There is a lot to be said for maintaining a positive mental attitude. When you are feeling happy and confident, you may find your psoriasis much easier to manage. A positive state of mind could also help you deal with anything that life throws your way.
- Griffiths, C. E. M., Richards, H. L.,‘Psychological influences in psoriasis’, Blackwell Science Ltd, 2001, Clinical and Experimental Dermatology, 26, 338-342, page 338
- Web MD, www.webmd.com/balance/stress-management/stress-management-breathing-exercises-for-relaxation
- Mark Hamer et el, ‘Dose response relationship between physical activity and mental health: The Scottish Health Survey’, Br J Sports Med doi:10.1136/bjsm.2008.046243, http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/early/2008/04/10/bjsm.2008.046243.short
- Ramirez G, Beilock SL, ‘Writing about testing worries boosts exam performance in the classroom’, Science, 2011 Jan 14;331(6014):211-3, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21233387
- Barton J and Pretty J. 2010, ‘What is the best dose of nature and green exercise for mental health? A meta-study analysis’, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2010, 44 (10), pp 3947–3955, DOI: 10.1021/es903183r, page 3950