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Staying Mentally Healthy while Living with a Skin Condition

Did you know that skin and psychology are closely linked, and that skin diseases are strongly associated with mental illness [1]? For example, psoriasis is closely linked with a variety of mental disorders, including stress and anxiety. This makes sense when you think about it, because skin is “the interface between the inner and the outer environment” [2], so the skin can be just as affected by psychosocial factors—such as stress or depression—as it is by external factors (such as weather or skin irritants).

Mind + Body

Because of the closely interrelated nature of skin diseases and mental health, it’s crucial that any comprehensive skin care and / or treatment plan includes a psychological component aimed at monitoring, improving, and maintaining a healthy state of mind. For the same reason, it’s important to be proactive in maintaining your own mental health yourself. Avoiding stressful situations may not always be possible, but try to avoid chronic stress by using effective stress management techniques. Also, if you feel like you are starting to develop anxiety or depression, make sure to address the situation immediately by speaking with a health care provider about the best ways to holistically manage your skin condition and mental health.

 

Left unaddressed, negative feelings such as embarrassment or lowered self-esteem due to a skin condition can over time turn into a vicious cycle that’s hard to escape. For example, an eczema flare-up may cause stress, leading to worsened dermal symptoms, which then leads to more stress, which then leads to another flare-up, and so on. Growing your confidence can help nip these feelings in the bud, helping to boost your overall mental health. Read on for some tips on how to grow your confidence!

Feeling Confident in Your Own Skin

1. Remember that knowledge is power.
The more you know and learn about your skin condition, the better-equipped you will be to manage it. Since everyone is different, it may also help to keep a journal to log your symptoms, experiences, and behaviors each day, such as stressors or dietary patterns. This will help you learn more about your own unique experience, identify potential triggers, and understand your body better.

 

2. Connect with others.
Living with a skin condition can be an isolating experience, and you may feel that other people just can’t understand or relate to what you are going through. Luckily, you’re not alone! Millions of people all over the world live with various skin conditions, and connecting with people who have gone through a similar experience can be a great way to feel heard and understood, and can be a useful reminder that many people also share your struggles! If you don’t know anyone in your geographical area with the same skin condition as you, consider joining a forum or following a relevant blog.

 

3. Focus on the good.
It can be easy to be overly self-critical or to fall into patterns of self-hate. Try to focus on all the things you do love about yourself and your body. A good trick to boost your positivity is to try to come up with 3 positive thoughts for every negative thought. Also, cultivate your hobbies and passions, and channel your energy into them whenever you have an especially hard day. 

 

4. Educate others.
Educating yourself is an important first step in learning how to manage your condition, but why stop there? Though it may be exhausting to have to keep explaining that “No, it’s not contagious!”, it’s only through raising awareness that more people will understand and stop fearing different skin conditions. What’s more, after you take the initiative to explain your experience to people, there’s a good chance you’ll feel more confident around them, since you know they have the facts.

 

5. Choose wisely.
If you know you have certain triggers, such as scratchy fabrics, try your best to avoid them, and make sure you make skin care a priority. Choose wisely when it comes to your diet, as well. Many skin conditions, such as eczema or psoriasis, are inflammatory in nature, so adopting an anti-inflammatory diet can go a long way in helping improve symptoms. Choosing wisely is a concept that goes beyond just skin care and diet. Choose your friends wisely, and aim to spend most of your time around supportive, positive people.

 

6. Focus on what you can control.
It may be hard or even impossible to control certain risk factors (such as genetics for instance), but do your best to focus on what you can control, and then take action to control it. Stress is a great example of a risk factor that you can control. While you may not always be able to avoid stressful situations, learn to manage your stress in effective ways, such as through exercise, meditation, or self-care. Always make your health and well-being a priority, and remember that it’s ok to say “no” sometimes.

 

7. Moisturise!
It’s simple to do but easy to forget, especially if you’re constantly busy or on the go. Moisturising is one of the best things you can do for both your skin and your self-esteem. Finding the right moisturiser for you can make you much more comfortable in your own skin, which can help boost your confidence. Alpinia offers a gentle, plant-based moisturiser that you can check out here.

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