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Does Your Psoriasis Need Stress Relief?

I don’t know how you’ve been feeling, but at my house, life has felt particularly stressful. Maybe it’s because my husband is working from home and we’re together more than ever. Our daughter is also home from college for the summer, meaning more together time for everyone. My mom also lives minutes away in a memory care center, while in the past, she lived independently and over an hour away. Plus, we’re having a little more time with extended family now that everyone has been fully vaccinated.

I'm grateful to be able to spend time with both my family and my husband, but when I feel anxious and vulnerable, quantity time isn't always quality time.

When stress kicks in...

Every time I start feeling stressed out, my scalp psoriasis kicks into overdrive. I give in to the itch and I scratch. And then I pick at the plaques in my scalp, often without realizing it. The next thing I know, I’m covered in flakes and hair. And then my anxiety decides to participate in this stress party, so I start worrying that my hair is too thin. Even as I type this, I can feel my heart rate increase just thinking about my thinning hair.

Stress is known to exacerbate many conditions, but when the condition is so visible and uncomfortable, such as psoriasis, it becomes a vicious cycle. The harder I try to get rid of stress, the more stressed I become about it. Fortunately, I have found a few things that help me keep it under control most of the time.

Meditation

My therapist introduced me to guided meditation and I really enjoy it. I found a few I liked on Spotify, particularly Tracks to Relax to help me sleep. I also find it helpful to slowly count from 1-10, then 10-1 and repeat that for a set amount of time. Occasionally, I quietly meditate without guidance.

Quiet time

People who know me well will be surprised to know that I am an introvert. I need quiet, alone time to recharge. I didn’t have my own space in my home, so I created my own little office/private oasis in a secret room under our stairs. It’s a little room inside our coat closet and it’s absolutely perfect for me. I have a cozy chair with a little ottoman, a little bookshelf, and a small table. There are a couple of lamps, so I don’t have to use the fluorescent light that’s installed overhead. It gives me the quiet time I crave.

Hot showers

I know! Hot showers aren’t the best for psoriasis, but they are good for my soul. I have always said that there is nothing a hot shower can’t fix. They help my stress more than they hurt my psoriasis, so I’m not going to give them up.

Birdwatching

This is a new hobby for me. My comfy recliner looks out onto our back yard, where my husband has placed bird feeders, birdhouses and birdbaths. He gives them a combination of food that attracts all sorts of birds. I just watched the cutest bluebird couple move into our birdhouse.

Therapy

Do not underestimate the benefits of therapy. The sessions that I think I have nothing to talk about are usually our most productive. I have been in weekly therapy for almost three years, and I can’t imagine not having this as part of my week. It is the most helpful of all of my stress control methods and helps me determine what I need.

Having all the tools I need

While I know this increase in my stress right now is only temporary, it sometimes feels like it will go on forever. When I remind myself of the measures I have in place to reduce stress, it tells me that I’ve got this under control. I’ve been through this before and I’ll get through it again. I have all the tools I need.

How do you get through stressful times?

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