Coping Strategies When Stress Exacerbates Our Atopic Dermatitis
Are there any coping strategies that actually work for those times when that itchy flare on your face keeps you awake? When it’s at its worst? One that might handle that flare on your hand when you have work you must do. With the number of community members we have, someone must have found something that works. Or that works enough. We don’t need the perfect solution. In fact, there isn’t a perfect solution. But just enough? Can’t there be something that’s just enough? Something that’s not a steroid?
Managing stress with eczema
We know that stress exacerbates any problems we have, including atopic dermatitis. So perhaps a good start in working towards a coping strategy is to learn how to control or at least slightly reduce our stress.
Square breathing and meditating
I’ve found square breathing helps me a bit. Breathe in for 4, hold for 4, breathe out for 4 and then hold for 4. It’s suggested to do this for about 30 seconds or until you feel more centered. My Fitbit has guided relaxation breathing which is similar.
I’m trying to learn to meditate, but my mind wanders so much. They say when that happens, just gently go back. Mindfulness is another practice I’m working on. I, too often, find myself on autopilot rather than focused.
Sitting still or staying busy
Some friends suggest that simply sitting quietly in your favorite chair, eyes closed, and listening to your favorite music has stress-relieving properties. Others say get busy doing something, anything that might take your mind off stressors. Major housecleaning works for some. One of my favorite ways to de-stress is by picking up the phone and calling my most upbeat friend, who always leaves me laughing. Laughter is known to help with stress.
Exercise, diet, and sleep
Yoga, or regular outdoor exercise, as well as a healthy diet, are also recommended to help lessen the negative impacts of chronic stress. Many of us find our diet impacts our skin even without the stress factor. One coping strategy to help deal with the pain and itch might be to change your environment, if only for a few hours.
Another way to reduce stress is to get enough sleep. My pharmacist once suggested I look up “sleep hygiene.” One of the suggestions was progressive muscle relaxation which I find helpful and now use most nights. It can take the mind off the itch. Just start at the toes and work up. Keeping a journal can sometimes help. It’s as if by writing our problems (and joys) in a journal, they’re shared and thus seem better managed.
For those able to enjoy a warm bath with a favorite essential oil, it could help reduce your stress. Possibly even enough to help you sleep. As some essential oils may be triggers for a flare, aromatherapy could be an alternative. Some swear by it, but I find aromatherapy sets off my allergic rhinitis.
If any of these ideas appeal to you, or you already use some of them, if you have other ways to cope with stress, please let me know in the comments. We eczema sufferers can use all the help we can get!
On an average day, how would you rate your level of anxiety related to atopic dermatitis?