Self-awareness and improvement of self are important factors when managing life with psoriasis. Take a look at these seven tips to improve both! Do you have another favorite tip that wasn't listed here? If so, place them in the comment section of this article or visit the HealthCentral Psoriasis Facebook page to share your thoughts.** Do yoga**
Stress is a huge factor for a lot of people with psoriasis. Not only does life itself cause stress, but it’s stressful to have psoriasis - stress that can aggravate the disease. Yoga has many health benefits, which include keeping the joints healthy, helping to maintain mental health, and improving cardiovascular health, ALL factors for people with psoriasis. Check out Psoriasis HealthCentral Social Ambassador Julie Cerrone’s tips on yoga forpsoriatic disease. You can do these exercises right at home.
Go to therapy
I honestly don’t understand why there is such a stigma for mental illness. I think we all suffer from it in some way, like the common cold. Some people have more severe forms and require more help than others, but at some point we almost all encounter depression, anxiety, and panic attacks.
For those of us with psoriasis, the chances for these illnesses increase even more. Depression is the #1 comorbidity of those suffering from psoriasis. In 2014, I began going to counseling for other reasons outside of psoriasis, but it was well needed. I didn’t have health insurance at the time so I found a facility that based the fee off of your income. At that time I only had to pay $25 per appointment! And I did about six sessions over three months. I think therapy is a great way to talk to someone who is looking from the outside in to give you an honest opinion and assessment of your life.
Be proactive Don’t wait for a problem to occur with your disease — instead, think of potential issues that may arise and already have solutions in mind. Last year I noticed that my medicine wasn’t working as well as it had when I first started. I never followed up with my doctor until things became unbearable. After speaking with her I found that there were several options I could have utilized before it became that bad. Keep track of your disease symptoms in an** electronic journal** or download one of the apps found here.
Create a to-do list** for your disease**
List three things you need to do soon, so you have the information in one spot, easy to access. Here is my list:
1. Call my doctor and set up an appointment about options for a different medicine
2. Call to request a prescription refill for my topical ointment
3. Buy heavy moisturizers to prepare for cold weather
Your thoughts can get the best of you and at times YOU can be your biggest enemy. I try to combat those negative thoughts with affirmations. Affirmations are statements or proclamations designed to affect the mind, consciously and subconsciously. They help to motivate, inspire, and promote positive energy. I used to write affirmations and post them around my room and bathroom with quotes like:
- I am more than my psoriasis
- Psoriasis does not define me, I define it
- Difficult moments have an expiration date, don’t give up too soon
- Day by Day who I am is improving
Write a letter to your past self HealthCentral has a campaign called “Memo to Me” where those with psoriasis talk to their past 16-year-old self. It’s a time of deep reflection and self-evaluation. I wrote a letter to my old self that brought me to tears. Back then was a time that was very difficult for me. I told my 16-year-old self that things would eventually get better. Writing the letter made me realize where I once was and where I am now. It was rejuvenating to me. It also revealed issues I needed to continue to work on.** This week take the challenge and write a letter to yourself.**** Write a letter to someone you need to forgiveBack in college I had a roommate who spread rumors that my disease was contagious, which still hurts till this day! I think about it often, and I don’t think I have honestly forgiven her. Everyone has people they need to forgive included those with chronic illnesses. We cross paths everyday with people who lack understanding of our disease.** I encourage you to write a letter to someone you haven't forgiven, releasing whatever hurt they have caused in your life. A lot of times in life we must forgive without ever receiving and apology. You don’t have to give the letter to the person if you don’t want to, use it as a way of self-therapy.
Alisha Bridges has battled with severe psoriasis for over 20 years and is the face behind Being Me in My Own Skin, a blog which highlights her life with psoriasis. Her goals are to create empathy and compassion for those who are least understood, through transparency of self, patient advocacy, and healthcare. She is currently a post-bachelor’s student at Georgia State University pursuing a career as a Physician's Assistance—her passions are dermatology and sexual health. Alisha also shares her passion as a Social Ambassador of the Psoriasis HealthCentral Facebook page where she shares timely tips, stories and insights on living with psoriasis. You can also find Alisha on Twitter.