5 Proven Ways For Eczema Sufferers to Increase Their Positivity
Dealing with the day-to-day struggle of living with eczema can place an increasingly heavy toll on both the sufferer and their loved ones. This fact is no different for those enduring the process of topical steroid withdrawal and for both, can go much deeper than just having a few little mood issues.
Having a skin condition such as these can rob us of our lives, our appearance and our sanity. I mean, if you’re not dealing with the pain and incessant irritation of the rash, then what is left; Red, flaky and sometimes oozy skin that is in no sense of the word, ‘pretty’.
I have seen the emotional devastation inflicted on many people, myself included, which can leave one in a state of anxiety and even chronic depression. From what I’ve witnessed, this is far more common than people without these conditions would care to acknowledge.
I understand the turmoil that comes with this stuff and I really wanted to share with you some of the ‘tools’ I either used myself to get me through the worst of eczema and topical steroid withdrawal and also what other people found worked for them.
Everyone is different and everyone’s levels of emotional distress will vary. But the main thing I want to emphasize here is that it is better to have some ‘tools in the toolbox’ for later use, than having none at all.
So here goes... my 5 Proven ways for eczema sufferers to increase their positivity!
1. Know that you’re not alone
There is nothing worse than the feeling of being alone. Isolated from the world and alone in your suffering where no one can possibly understand what you are going through.
I was not long ago in the situation where I just felt incredibly segregated and lonely because no one understood what I was going through and people either seemed to not support this journey (through lack of understanding) or just plain didn’t care. So where are we to find kindred spirits if not through our friends and family?
The incredible thing is that once I started digging, I found lots of pockets around the internet of communities who get together to vent their emotions, compare their situation and offer support for the same issues I was experiencing. And what was truly amazing was that the majority of people not only understood me but actually offered relevant support!
Finding these communities on forums around the web can help you feel less isolated and give you peace and assurance that you are not crazy, what is happening to you is normal and necessary and what you are doing is right.
This in turn can boost your spirits and strengthen your resolve in a place where you are understood, supported in an environment that is safe.
There are a number of great places you can find these communities; however I personally found Facebook, ITSAN (for topical steroid withdrawal), Topix, Talkhealthpartnership and dailystrength to be helpful. But I encourage you to reach out to forums that have active and regular threads with many people posting.
The more support you can get from around the world, the better!
2. Giggle, me lovelies
So the first thing I can hear you saying is ‘exactly HOW do I do that when I feel like I want to tear my skin off and I look like a monster!?’
I’m not going to undermine your struggles by wafting on about ‘just stay positive’. Yeah because it’s that easy! *insert sarcasm*.
I understand that in your darkest hours, this advice is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike. What I will do, if you have some patience with me, is explain the technicalities of why this is important, and give you some actual tangible tools that you can utilise to help direct yourself toward some more productive vibes.
Thankfully the sciency stuff is well researched by people a lot smarter than me. But without getting into all the nitty gritty details (and there is a lot of it!), there is a symbiotic relationship between what we think, and what we are.
Our brains are wired in a way that creates an environment within our bodies which are a direct response to positive or negative thoughts.
In a nutshell, studies show that those who continually have negative thoughts (pessimists) are more predisposed to illness, cardiovascular issues and faster aging; while those who can maintain humour and positivity (optimists) have better performing immune systems, overall health and can cope better with stress and depression.
I’m not saying that by purely having good thoughts you are going to cure all diseases and accomplish world peace. I’m just saying that laughter and good positive thoughts can help your body, on a chemical level, stay better equipped to handle infections and the stress of this weighty issue. And let’s face it; we need all the help we can get!
The uplifting and serotonin producing ability of laughter can help with sleep, digestion, oxygenating the lungs and blood, and boost the immune system; which are so important when we are battling the exhaustive work of dealing with eczema and topical steroid withdrawal.
So how exactly does one accomplish such states of Zen-like enlightenment? Let me give you some of the ways I found incredibly useful – as corny as some of them sound, they can make a big difference, even if you can’t notice it.
If it makes you laugh – do it! For me this meant watching as many funny movies, TV shows and YouTube clips I could get my hands on. I recommend my YouTube channel where you can see me making a total idiot of myself
Catching up with ‘positive’ friends who have a great sense of humour can really help clear the airways and get the gut laughs happening. Not to mention boost the social bonds that are so often lost when negativity takes hold and you don’t want to leave the pillow cave in your bedroom.
Positive affirmations are essentially an idea or set of words which are repeated to oneself in order to motivate, empower or support a positive idea. And as I’ve mentioned, negative thoughts are the building blocks of declining health and mental stability so positive affirmations help counteract this.
Here’s an idea; instead of looking in the mirror every morning telling yourself how ugly you are and how you wished you were someone else (come on, we’ve all said it), replace that with affirmations that remind you of your real worth, your receptiveness to the happiness and the joys of today, and your forgiveness for this situation. Be good to yourself. Love thyself!
Either repeating them out loud or in your head will still have the same effect, and if you think they are a waste of time then think again. Even if you feel like an idiot for saying them and you don’t even believe what you are saying, it doesn’t matter.
Repeating these combinations of words is like hacking the system, because by merely packing the space in your mind with positive words you are beginning to influence mind-over-matter. You are imprinting these messages in your psyche and when done often can have help reverse the perpetual inner cycle of resentment, self-loathing and defeat.
3. Knowledge = power
One of the ways I found myself able to cope a bit better, as well as those I would regularly chat to, was to get better equipped with information on the complexities of my condition.
I believe this deeper understanding of what was going on inside my body allowed me to break everything down into logical ‘processes’ of the experiences I was having, rather than just letting it all get on top of me with no clue of what it really was.
So rather than being clueless and adding to my anxiety of ‘But why is this happening to me?’ and ‘I’m doing everything I can, I just don’t understand it!’, I could break it down intellectually by knowing that this symptom is merely the cause of ‘that’ process and thus I can do ‘x’ to either help either alleviate it or just to wait this out.
Understanding something better can really help broaden your mind to other possibilities and ideas which you had never previously realised. For example, your eczema infections are not responding to the antibacterial creams you have been using. But did you know that swimming in the ocean or taking a salt bath can help clear infections as well?
Or another example in the case of topical steroid withdrawal is that I had no idea the reason my hair was falling out or I was losing sleep but it wasn’t until I had spent some time researching that I realised it was all related to adrenal issues which were exacerbated by my diet.
Great news because now I knew I had to stop drinking coffee and eating the wrong food and switch to adrenal healing foods and voila! Adrenal issues improved!
Knowledge is power yo!
4. Move those bones baby
Don’t you ever wonder why those athletic types are so darned happy!? They bounce around through life with a spring in their step, smiling from ear to ear while sipping on green smoothies and just making the rest of us feel sick with envy.
Ok so perhaps it’s only me who thinks this way. Guilty as charged. The fact still remains however that active people do tend to shine in a way that is more than skin deep.
It is probably not news to you, but I will list the benefits of exercise anyway.
Not only do you get all of the above by being active, but depending on what activity you are doing, you can also have some fun, get some fresh air and healing sunshine, give you a break from the day-to-day, and maybe even socialize at the same time.
Getting moving doesn’t have to mean waking up 4am to dart for the gym in full lycra. Nor does it mean having to work up a sweat like you’re training for a marathon.
Being active can be as minimal as just going for a brisk walk for 20 minutes, having a swim or even just doing some gardening. Whatever works within your day.
One thing you are most likely aware of by this stage is that heat and sweat can make eczema and topical steroid withdrawal symptoms react badly.
Overly hot environments are generally not well tolerated and as every condition can vary, you must start out gently and only take it as far as weather and comfort allows.
Listen to your body and if you start feeling itchy or a flare approaching, stop.
5. Diet, ya gotta try it.
I might sound like a nagging mother when I harp on about this subject, but it’s only because I care about you!
There are obviously reasons why nutrition can influence the quality of the skin and have inflammatory or anti-inflammatory effects on the body which can directly affect eczema. But I will cover more about this specific topic in another article.
What I want to talk about here is the fact that foods can also serve to either elevate your mood and senses, thus improving your positivity, or they can undermine the best intentioned of folks by creating a rainbow of self-sabotaging mood killers.
Please exercise caution with all foods, as some people can react negatively to components of even the most seemingly healthiest foods.
First up I want to list a bunch of foods which are said to help boost positivity and mood, making you happy as a clam.
Salmon – When Omega 3 deficiency can create fatigue, moodiness and depression; the remedy is Omega 3 rich foods such as salmon. Salmon is also high in the amino acid tryptophan which is synthesized by the body to create serotonin, the happy hormone.
Green Tea – A substantial study performed showed that people who drank five or more cups of green tea per day actually suffered 20% less psychological stress than those who did not. This is a lot of green tea and because it contains caffeine, this one should be used with caution.
Dark chocolate – Finally chocolate is back on the cards! Chocolate rich in cocoa/cacao is said to reduce the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) to promote stress reduction. The magnesium content has been shown to help symptoms including depression and irritability. And it tastes like a party in your mouth! Can I get an Amen!
Mushrooms – This understated super-food is the only plant source of Vitamin D, which can bolster mood. Additionally, the selenium content is linked to improved levels of fatigue, stress and depression.
Spinach – Full of folate, or B9, supports serotonin regulation in the brain with low levels in the body being linked to fatigue. Spinach also contains iron, a mineral that when low, creates feelings of fatigue and depression.
Probiotic rich foods – The link between the gut and brain, also known as the gut-brain axis, has been studied and shows a relationship betwixt the quality, type and amount of bacteria in the gut and how it literally effects your mood. Therefor the better the bacteria, the more relaxed and cognitive the mental performance of the individual. Increase foods such as sauerkraut, kimchi and kefir to help re-establish your friendly flora.
Supplements – Said to pack quite a punch in terms of efficacy; supplements containing purified tryptophan are readily converted into serotonin in the brain, thus boosting happiness without having to take drugs.
On the other hand, if you want to avoid a case of the ‘cranky pants’ then reducing the following foods is a step in the right direction:
Sugar – The ‘S’ word. Refined sugars are simple, high GI carbs which spike insulin, then crash down causing you to feel fatigued and sluggish - a sugar hangover. This zaps energy and directly effects our mood, and not in a good way.
Caffeine – This one I found can go either way, but I wanted to put it in the ‘anti’ pile because of a few reasons. There is a crash after drinking caffeine which is counterproductive to mood enhancement. They are usually laden with sugar and dairy – two eczema no-no’s. And a lot of what’s on the market contains mycotoxins, which are a mold that can trigger eczema as well as cause agitation, tremors and sleep issues.
Fried oily ‘stuff’ – This includes potato chips, French fries, fried chicken, fried calamari to name a few. The hydrogenated oils used for this process are high in trans-fats which can prevent blood flow to the brain meaning the brain can’t work to its fullest. This can lead to depression, digestion problems and sluggishness – all positivity negating!
Artificial sweeteners – So you thought you were doing the right thing by swapping out the refined sugar for that packet of Equal? Think again. Many artificial sweeteners contain Aspartame, which is associated with a very long list of health problems, including insomnia, headaches and mood troughs. Always research your sweetener thoroughly before buying.
Processed foods – The same way sugar spikes your insulin, sending you downward to sad-city, is the same way your body handles processed or refined carbohydrates such as pasta, cakes, biscuits, cereal, white bread and other snack foods. This can increase feelings of irritation and fatigue.
The moral of this story is that by making a shift from unnatural foods to more wholesome and whole natural foods, you can positively influence your brain to make you feel, well, positive!
Whether some or all of these methods sound cliché to you or not, there is a reason they are touted again and again. They are natural, effective, gentle, and require no drugs or outside intervention.
Nothing makes me feel more warm and fuzzy!
If you feel your situation needs more help than what I have written here, then pursuing the guidance of a medical professional is advised. Do not wait to seek help if you feel yourself slipping into depression.
Or if you know someone who could use some positivity, be sure to use the share buttons on this page.