Using the Breath to Control Eczema Itches
One thing people with eczema actually do have a lot of control over when dealing with their rashes is their breath. Any time I've ever gone through a really stressful and overwhelming time, being aware of how I am breathing has been the most effective way for me to bring myself back down from anxiety and a scratch-filled rollercoaster. It grounds me back into my body in a way that allows me to make different choices and responses to the sensation of itchiness.
How focused breathing can help
Studying Holistic Health in San Francisco State University and having years of experience with Yoga, Tai Qi, and Qi Gong which all emphasized a very strong awareness of the breath and using intention to transform and redirect attention have been the building blocks of my ability to bounce back from eczema triggers. Below, I describe the process I go through that guides my reaction to itchiness in a way that prevents and lowers skin damage as much as possible. I hope that the description of this process is useful for you and will help you minimize the effects eczema has on your quality of life and quality of your skin.
The process of focused breathing
During the initial sensation of itchiness, I experience a heightened sense of anxiety which feels like the beginning of a rollercoaster; it is like the moment when you start to feel the cart that you're in go up the incline for the first peak before you take your first gut-wrenching plunge. When I start experiencing the incline and the escalation to the edge of scratching, I take a moment to think about it and I ask myself why it is happening? This may take some time to develop enough awareness and objectiveness about in the moment, but with practice, over time it becomes second nature and an immediate response to feeling itchy.
A brief pause helps
Many times just thinking about what is making me feel itchy will take my mind off the edge enough to have me decide whether or not the reason is worth the damage. And most times it's not, so that will be enough for me to not scratch. But if I still feeling like clawing at my skin, I will then take another deep breath in like before and continue to exhale out the sense of itchiness. So, instead of using my energy to scratch my skin I use my breath and exhalations to release the itchiness with the same kind of rhythm and pace that I would be stretching my skin with my nails.
Naps can help too
Finally as a last resort, I will lay on a comfortable surface (maybe a bed or a couch) on my belly with my arms on either side of my body and I will take a nap which naturally gets me to breathe in even more deeply as well as close my eyes and just relax for that moment. Sometimes the sense of itchiness is so overwhelming that I need to nap for at least a 30 minutes to regulate my breathing. Eventually, with my breathing being so deep and even, I find that the itchiness eventually just goes away on its own.
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