10 Relaxation Techniques for Psoriasisby Tracy Davenport, Ph.D. Health Writer
Keeping stress under control is key if you are living with psoriasis. Relaxation is a process that can combat stress. We often think of yoga as a technique for relaxation, but there are many other ways to relax that might be a better fit for you.
Virtually all studies of laughter and health indicate positive results. Biologically it works like this: laughter increases your heart rate, respiratory rate, respiratory depth, and oxygen consumption. These increases are then followed by a period of muscle relaxation, with a corresponding decrease in heart rate, respiratory rate, and blood pressure. Taking time each week to laugh with a good friend or watch a good comedian may be just what the doctor ordered.
Progressive Muscle Relaxation
In progressive muscle relaxation (PMR) you tense a group of muscles as you breathe in, and you relax them as you breathe out. Muscle tension can cause anxiety, so working through each set of muscles can provide insurance that you are not holding stress in your body. PMR can also help lower your heart rate, slow down your breathing, reduce blood pressure, and even reduce pain. One of the benefits of this technique is that it can be done almost anywhere including at the office.
Massage is a well-known tool for relaxation. However, it can be difficult to find the time and money to get a massage on a regular basis. Another option for relaxation is self-massage. One of the ways to accomplish this is with a foam roller. You can use a foam roller to help break up knots in your muscles and tissue and release tension. A foam roller can be purchased in a sporting goods store or ordered online. There are also videos and printable guides available.
When 21 studies were reviewed that compared different relaxation techniques helpful to athletes, hypnosis came back high on the list. Hypnosis can be performed by a professional hypnotist or you can be guided through the process by listening to a self-hypnosis recording. The goal of hypnosis for relaxation purposes is to lead your mind into a very deeply relaxed state.
Music has been recognized for its therapeutic qualities for many years. Music can change our moods, alleviate anxiety, and reduce pain. We can all relate to the feeling of listening to our favorite song and observing our mood change. The type of music that makes you feel the most relaxed will be an individual preference. You may need to experiment with what makes you feel the best. Some may prefer a more soothing beat, while others may prefer more upbeat music for relaxation.
According to Lillian Lilly, Creator and Founder of Kind & Simple, LLC, aromatherapy works for relaxing. In an email interview with HealthCentral, she explained, “By using certain essential oils like lavender, vanilla, and citrus, aromatherapy has the ability to reduce stress and aid in relaxation. Add a few drops of essential oils to a bath, diffuser, or a mister, to easily reduce stress every day.”
Biofeedback can be used to help reduce anxiety and stress. It involves learning to control your body’s functions such as your breathing or heart rate. This is accomplished by being hooked up to a device that can give you information about what is going on in your body so you can make subtle changes if needed. Biofeedback can happen in a medical setting, but it can also happen at home with devices that are now available to hook up to your computer.
While some relax by being still, others find relaxation in motion. Those of us who relax when we are moving know this is true. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, 14 percent of us use regular exercise to cope with stress. For psoriasis, exercise gives us multiple benefits beyond stress reduction. It can also improve our physical condition and prevent disease.
According to the Journal of Clinical Sports Medicine, hydrotherapy can describe two different activities: warm water immersion and exercise performed in the water. Both of these can have benefits when it comes to relaxation. Which water activity is right for you may depend on the condition of your skin and the quality of the water. For example, salt water has been reported to improve psoriasis and chlorine can have a drying effect.
This is my personal favorite way to relax. The more I know about my condition, the more powerful I am and therefore the more relaxed I feel. Knowing simple facts such as psoriasis is not contagious, treatment is available, and complete remission is possible helps me relax when I feel anxious about my condition.