We wouldn’t be human if we didn’t have emotions, both positive and negative. When we suffer from eczema, however, our unresolved emotional life can cause havoc.
Taking care of the self becomes critical to our skin health. Every person is different, and every self-help method may not work for every person, but it is worth the time to experiment and determine what methods work best at elevating your positive feeling and eliminating the negative, triggering emotions.
Exercise is one of the best ways to relieve stress. You don’t need to join a gym, although that is one way of getting some exercise. You can simply walk, swim, play tennis, or engage in any other physical activity. Try climbing the stairs instead of taking the elevator. Two hours of exercise a week is highly recommended. More than that is even better.
Exercise provides an added boost to the immune system, which is important for eczema control. The only problem with exercising when you have eczema is that sweating can deprive the body of much-needed moisture. This can be very drying for the skin and can start an itch cycle.
That does not mean you should be avoiding exercise. Simply do low-impact exercises that won’t have you sweating. Be sure to apply plenty of body lotion after your shower. Speaking of showers, lukewarm showers dry out the skin far less than hot showers.
If you jog, do so during the early morning or evening hours, when the sun is less intense, and you will sweat less.
Wear loose clothing while exercising. Spandex may look sexy if you have the curves, but it can irritate your skin. Loose cotton clothes are the best next to the skin.
The connection between eczema and diet is still ongoing and will be discussed at greater length in another chapter. But it helps to remember that eczema can be triggered by allergies. Glutens, nuts, and dairy are the worst culprits. Many people have found that processed foods can worsen eczema system.
To ensure that you are allergy-free, have your doctor perform the standard patch tests.
There is great value in daydreaming. First, when you daydream, you are focused on your inner fantasy. The more your mind is focused, the less negative, anxiety-producing thoughts will enter.
In addition, this is the state of mind that allows solutions to problems to flow naturally, thus providing you with answers to problems that have been causing anxiety.
Therapy, especially cognitive behavioral therapy, has proven extremely successful in treating anxiety and depression. While you should be consulting with a dermatologist, consider also seeing a psychotherapist.
Therapy can be a very effective way of discovering the emotional triggers that cause eczema to flare up. Sometimes getting at the root
of these triggers can be difficult, and a trained therapist can help you with some insight.
We’ve already made the connection between skin and emotions such as anxiety and depression. However, sometimes, emotions are repressed. There are thoughts we don’t want to face, such as anger, so it’s easier to pretend these thoughts don’t exist. Unfortunately, these emotions don’t simply disappear because we refuse to acknowledge them. For many who suffer from repressed anger, the emotions go straight to the skin.
In a hospital study involving 128 patients, it was found that the 27 patients who had eczema experienced worsening of symptoms whenever they were faced with frustration.
As an eczema sufferer, ask yourself:
- Do you frequently feel numb, shut off from your feelings?
- Do you frequently pretend to be happy when you’re feeling down?
- Do you rarely or never share your feelings with another person?
- Do you become easily irritated at the smallest things?
- Do you passively agree with people rather than expressing your own opinion?
- Do you keep busy every moment of the day? Make-work busyness can keep feelings repressed.
If you answered yes t0 any (or more) of the above questions, chances are excellent you are suffering from repressed anger. The good news is, you can do something about it and release the emotional triggers. You’ll see the results on your skin.
Repressed anger is like excess baggage you’re carrying around while strutting uphill. It’s a heavy load to carry. At some point, your body will make its displeasure known. And one of the ways it lets you know something is wrong is by attacking the skin with eczema.
We have mentioned the importance of pinpointing your emotional triggers. When we are in denial, psychotherapy can be extremely helpful with this. But one clue may be that you insist you never get angry. The fact is, we all get angry at times. This is normal. Chances are, if you never get angry, your anger is being repressed and fueling your skin with toxins.
Forget for a moment what repressed anger does to your relationships. Before it affects another person, it can ruin your health in general and your skin in particular.
Anger can be the result of childhood abuse from 30 years ago or a current work situation involving a nasty boss. The anger may be perfectly normal and justified, but we are frequently taught at an early age that anger is “inappropriate.” All too often, parents will tell a child, “How dare you get angry with grandma?” So, anger gets repressed until it becomes a habit. And our skin may well be paying the price.
Processing Repressed Anger
Begin by being totally honest with yourself. This can be harder than it seems. Allow yourself to be open to any thoughts that may come into your head. We all have emotional needs, especially as children. When these needs aren’t met, we become angry, but as children, we don’t feel strong enough to express those emotions. So, they become buried.
You are no longer a helpless child, so it’s okay to express any feeling as it arises. Then, once you have gotten in touch with some or all the repressed anger, you need to release it.
It isn’t necessary, or sometimes advisable, to confront the source of your anger directly. You don’t want to get fired from a job before you have another one lined up. If your repressed anger goes back to childhood, the culprit may be dead at this point.
But acknowledging the anger is crucial. You cannot change that which remains unacknowledged. Then, work toward forgiveness. This means accepting and moving on with your life. Your life matters; the other person has been made inconsequential.
Removing repressed anger from your life is a gift you give yourself. And your skin will surely reap the benefits.