Trauma and Emotions Linked to Eczema
All of these years, I had been focusing solely on trying to control my eczema through dieting, exercising, and staying away from all of the things that popped up positive on my allergy test (dust, animal fur, certain trees, and so much more). But even when I thought I created the perfect bubble to protect me from anything that may trigger my eczema, I still seemed to flare up.
What if eczema is beyond our external, physical spaces? Beyond what we come into contact with? What if it’s not just about eating healthy, doing healthy things, and “staying away” from known triggers? What if there’s something deeper?
"The Body Keeps The Score"
Recently, I picked up a book called “The Body Keeps the Score” by Bessel Van Der Kolk. His phenomenal writing and research teach the reader how and why the human body is a container for every event we’ve experienced since birth, whether or not these experiences are deemed good or bad.
Van Der Kolk claims that these “bad” experiences, also known as trauma, are the basis for illnesses and diseases, including depression, anxiety, and PTSD. These experiences not only leave traces in our minds and emotions, but also in our biology and immune systems. And as a result, we lose control and allow our past experiences to hinder us from feeling alive and present moment to moment.
Emotions linked to eczema?
Van Der Kolk’s book created a new paradigm shift for me. What if our past trauma and emotions are also directly linked to eczema?
All along, I had been focusing on controlling my external world, without realizing that my internal world played just as much of a role (if not a bigger role) in causing my eczema flare-ups. From the way I think about myself and others, to how I respond or react to certain situations, to how I grew up and my family dynamics, all of these factors can be interconnected to my experience of eczema.
Stress and eczema
For example, let’s look at stress – one of the most common known triggers of eczema. When I experience stress, my eczema tends to break out or worsen. Sounds familiar? But what about other emotions? Can they affect our eczema too? If so, possible triggers could also be sadness, loneliness, anxiety, frustration, anger, depression, resentment, and so forth.
But what about positive emotions? Can they affect our eczema, too?
In my opinion, positive emotions act as a counteragent in relieving us from the symptoms of eczema. Look at it as a form of preventative medicine. This includes feelings like joy, happiness, love, curiosity, compassion, humility, forgiveness, etc.
Think about it. When you’re happy, do you pay any attention to your eczema? The moments when I feel the most joy and love, I completely forget about my eczema; I am fully present and living in the moment. Unlike when I stress out, my skin begins to get itchier all of a sudden and my eczema becomes uncontrollable.
Test it out
If we remain open and curious about Van Der Kolk’s perspective on how trauma and emotions lead to disease, then perhaps focusing on releasing past trauma and counteracting negative emotions would support us.
Fortunately, what I’ve been currently practicing is right in alignment with Van Der Kolk’s research and analysis. And let me tell you, my healing has skyrocketed because of it. Here are some tips to get you started.
Invest in yourself emotionally
Three years ago, I started to heavily invest in self-development and mindfulness. The difference is substantial! Through consistent work on myself, I am more conscious and aware of my emotional triggers and past traumas. The inner work speaks for itself and continues to bring me inner peace, joy and overall healing. Whether you participate in self-development programs, support groups, or read books, investing in yourself emotionally is the only way you can be conscious of the blockages hindering you from healing.
Engage in healing mindset practices
If positive thoughts and experiences counteract eczema, then doing certain activities and practices to bring them about support. Think of these practices as anything that brings you joy, love, and awareness. For me, this includes reading, working out, supporting a friend, meditating, giving back and more. Find what makes you happy and do it!
Journal your emotions and experiences.
Journaling is a great reflective tool to keep track of where you are mentally. When you’re feeling ‘emotional’ (the good and the bad), journal your experience and express how your skin is doing in connection to it. This may give you a better idea of what some of your triggers are, as well as the things you can do to bring forth positivity and healing.
Have you been diagnosed with atopic dermatitis?