Preventing Work-Induced Eczema
Does your workplace cause you to flare up?
In addition to being an eczema advocate, facilitator, and speaker, I currently manage my family's bakery in Northern New Jersey. While this has many perks, including free desserts and a limitless amount of birthday cakes, it has taught me a few things about work-induced eczema.
Stress induced eczema and school
Before moving away to college in 2010, I worked at the bakery from middle school up until my senior year of high school. It’s where I was fortunate to learn about the importance of customer service, hard work, and earning my own money. It's also where, at a young age, I gained knowledge about what stress at work can do to my body and how it can affect my eczema.
My first introduction to work stress
Back then (and now), our bakery was super fast-paced meshed with lots of hands-on labor. And due to the high demand, the lines would often get long with (patient and impatient) customers, while I and other employees had to bounce between in-person customers and those who are calling over the phone. This is where, as a young girl, I didn't know how to manage my stress and would allow myself to get riled up.
Work stress leads to eczema flare up
In the past, this rush for hours on end would burn my body up from the inside out and as a result, my eczema would flare up. My face would turn bright red and I would start itching under my clothes.
Self conscious about facial flares
To make matters worse, I would get insecure about what I thought other people were thinking about my tomato face. “Do they think I look weird? Is my eczema that obvious? Oh God, I hope they don't say anything.” But sometimes, people would say something, unaware that them pointing it out only made it worst for me. This is when I would give up, call my dad, and lock myself in the office until he picked me up.
Preventing work stress
That was then. Now, as a manager and head of operations, I can't just call my dad and ask him to pick me up when things get "bad". I have to handle them and I do. Fortunately, over the 10 years that I was away, I learned different tools and techniques to calm my mind in times of stress. Here’s what I normally do before entering work that has supported me immensely in preventing work-induced stress. (Please note that this requires me to wake up about 3 hours before work).
Meditating for stress relief
Meditation - often done simultaneously with my partner in the morning - grounds me as soon as I wake up. It allows me to focus on my breathing - the number one most important factor in preventing stress and controlling my eczema. It's what sets the tone for the rest of the day and it's my reminder to breathe and practice mindful meditation even when I am at work. 10 minutes a day will keep the stress away!
Reducing stress by working out
Whether it be a full high-intensity interval training workout or a 20-minute walk outside, this is how I get my body to wake up and become alert. It allows me to stay on my toes and be ready to handle anything that comes my way (even an impatient customer!). Subconsciously, it also relieves my mind from stressing about working out after such a long day of work!
Journaling to manage stress
One of my most favorite thing to do. I love journaling because it's my time to be fully honest and authentic with myself. It reflects where my mind is at that moment and oftentimes leads me to a place of gratitude. If I know where I am mentally, I can shift what needs to be shifted, and then I can set my intention on where I need to go to be at peace with myself and those around me.
Reading to calm the mind
I highly recommend doing something you love before work. For me, that is reading a book. It settles my mind and brings me such calmness and peace. And most of the time, I learn something that I can then apply to my workplace.
Having healthy eating habits
Nourishing my body before entering the workday is so important to me. And if I'm practicing intermittent fasting, I am making sure I am packing all of my meals for the day, so that when I'm ready to eat, I'm not stressing out about what I'm going to eat. This also prevents me from being super hungry at work and "accidentally" eating a piece of cake for breakfast :)
Using prayer to stay at peace
Right when I park my car or as I'm walking over to the bakery, I tend to do a mini prayer. I’ll ask God to protect my mind, body, and spirit before entering my workspace. I’ll also ask him to support me in remaining present and at peace with my employees and anyone I encounter.
Being conscious about stress relief habits
Granted, doing my morning routinedoes not mean that I will not stress out at work. Instead, it teaches me how to become conscious and aware of when I am not at peace with myself, and it's what supports me in preventing my body from overreacting to work-induced stress.
Did you know October is eczema awareness month?