For more than a year, we have all faced an extremely stressful situation. Many conditions are exacerbated by stress, and psoriasis is no exception. In fact, it is likely that many people were diagnosed with psoriasis for the first time during the pandemic. To make matters worse, dealing with psoriasis in turn can increase stress, especially when you’re already watching yourself for unusual symptoms (and in some cases, rashes have been associated with COVID-19).
However, all is not bad. The pandemic has also taught us a lot about self-care and helped us establish what can actually work for our routines.
How does psoriasis cause stress?
The link between psoriasis and stress is unclear. We don’t even know exactly what causes psoriasis, but we do know that it is caused by a dysfunction of the immune system. The reason stress causes flare-ups, then, is likely due to the overall effect it has on the immune system. Not all people with psoriasis have stress problems, but if you do, chances are you’ve had problems in the past year.
Meditation, stress and psoriasis
In April 2020, the top ten English meditation apps saw two million more downloads than in January. The combination of elevated levels of stress with many people who have bought time due to working from home has led to more people trying meditation or returning to it after time away.
One study showed that meditation can clear psoriasis flare-ups faster when combined with light therapy. Although older, this study used exactly the same type of short mindfulness sessions generally found in popular meditation apps, giving a sign that meditation apps can help people with psoriasis reduce their stresses. breakouts and recover more quickly. This is in addition to the other benefits of reducing stress. However, it is best when combined with UVB phototherapy or PUVA photochemotherapy.
This suggests that an excellent self-care option for people with psoriasis is to use a UVB light box at home combined with meditation. Phototherapy requires a prescription and you should discuss meditation options with your doctor. You may need to try several to find the right one for you.
The combination of working from home and eating at a restaurant is restricted has led many people to cook more at home. This gives you more control over your diet.
For people with psoriasis, it is important to limit alcohol (especially for men) and eat anti-inflammatory foods like berries, fatty fish, olive oil, and certain herbs like cumin and ginger. It is also important to reduce your intake of red meat, dairy, and refined sugars.
Having more time to cook and prepare food can help many people prevent flare-ups. Although the stress of having everyone at home may inspire some to enjoy libation, spending less time with alcohol is important in preventing breakouts. While many are now starting to head back to the office, finding ways to cook at home (especially lunch) and learning how to say no to one more drink could help you stay healthier and continue to avoid breakouts.
Also, knowing exactly what’s in your food can help you identify specific foods that are causing problems so you can avoid them.
The downside is that many people have engaged in stress eating, which often focuses on cravings for unhealthy, processed foods and refined sugars. Many people have learned to deal with these urges.
Greater outdoor exercise
With enclosed gyms and hard-to-find exercise equipment, many people got into the habit of exercising outdoors, specifically walking. Being in nature reduces stress, and walking is an ideal exercise for people with psoriatic arthritis, who often struggle with more intense activity.
People have started walking the streets of their neighborhood or nearby parks, where it is easier to distance themselves socially and they can generally avoid wearing a mask.
In addition to reducing stress, walking increases creativity and reduces stress from eating. Walking has also been shown to be good for your immune system and therefore can help regulate it better, reducing flare-ups. You don’t even have to walk very far or spend a lot of time for it to be beneficial to your health.
The pandemic has created a lot of stress and anxiety, and for many people these mental health problems will be long-lasting. However, it has also taught us the value of taking care of ourselves. For those with psoriasis, the extra time to meditate and cook healthy foods that support their immune system has proven helpful. These are habits that we should all try to maintain in the post-pandemic future.