alt=A man with a dog pauses on a nature path to look up into the trees and breathe in the air to manage his stress levels.

3 Ways I Fight Stress In My Psoriasis Management

We all know that autoimmune issues - like psoriasis flare-ups - are heavily triggered by genetics, lifestyle choices, and even injuries or illness — but stress is a common culprit as well.

In my case, I think stress has everything to do with it. While we can't always cut out every single stressor, food choice, or the DNA we were given, trying to get some semblance of control really is key.

A look at some easy stress management rituals...

When I was diagnosed with the inflammatory disease ankylosing spondylitis (AS) and later started having psoriasis crop up, I realized that my stress levels played a huge role in my flare-ups. But stress can be so nebulous, right? We're all stressed to some degree, so how do we stop that reality?

We don't. We just learn to manage it. We start training our bodies to recognize what it feels like to be calm and safe. We start asking ourselves, "What do you need?" and we start listening. Well, at least, this is what works for me. My favorite stress management rituals and tactics include...

Diaphragmatic breathing

Sometimes, when I'm deeply stressed out, and my mind is going about 100 miles per hour, I need to center myself. Maybe it's when work feels overwhelming, or I'm feeling flare-up chaos, or I just am having a messy day. Whatever the case, I like to periodically lay down or sit still and do some deep belly breathing.

I place one hand on my belly and one hand on my chest and breath in for four counts through my nose (you can do your mouth if you have to!). Then, I hold for a second or two. Next, I slowly breathe out for eight counts through pursed lips.

The science tells us that this reduces blood pressure, increases oxygen, and helps us center ourselves. For me, it lets me get outside of the stress and "change the channel" in my mind. It lets me have tangible control over my body and stress levels. It's easy, and free, and you can always turn to it!

Nature walks

It may sound woo-woo, but being outside is one of my purest forms of joy. The trees don't shame or judge you. The wind and water at a lake or park can only help you feel grounded and connected to everything.

Unlike the workday and human expectation, nature is a giver. It doesn't take. Just be sure to take your allergy meds if you need them!

Earthing has been shown to reduce stress, inflammation, and blood pressure — returning our bodies to a calm state. Teaching my body that 'calm' is attainable through walks in nature has had a profound impact on me because it lets me create a ritual I can turn to again and again.

Dance and movement

Stress feeds on stagnancy, so one of my favorite things to do is disrupt It. Working out, dancing, stretching, yoga, a gentle walk — whatever you like! — helps to rewrite the script, moving the stress out of the body.

After a workout, I always feel capable and mentally more focused. The Psoriasis Foundation recommends moving for at least 30 minutes a day, five times per week.

What helps you destress?

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