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Skin Problems Flaring Up Again? Watch Your Emotions!

Skin Problems Flaring Up Again? Watch Your Emotions!

Have you ever noticed when you’re feeling stressed out, depressed, or nervous that your skin tends to break out? Maybe it’s acne, rosacea, psoriasis, or hives? Well, your observation has scientific backing. Skin health and mental health are linked and a new branch of science, psychodermatology, researches this connection.

What is Psychodermatology?

According to Professor Karen Mallin, PsyD of the University of Miami, psychodermatology is the study of emotions and their effect on skin. It combines the fields of psychology, psychiatry, dermatology, and immunology, which focus on invisible diseases, visible diseases, and immune system health. The idea behind this combination is that skin responds to both internal and external stimuli by producing flare-ups. Studying the relationship among the nervous system, skin, and immune system (also known as the neuro-immuno-cutaneous system) could lead to integrative treatment plans for people with skin disorders. These new treatment plans might include therapy, medication, and counseling.

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    http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/psychotic-affective-disorders/psychodermatology-when-mind-and-skin-interact

    Some Common Skin Conditions

    Acne

    Stress leads to an increased production of cortisol, the stress hormone. Cortisol, in turn, increases the production of oil on the skin. Oily skin makes it far more likely for you to develop pimples and even acne.

    Psoriasis

    Psychological stress tends to worsen the presence of psoriasis, a skin disease that causes scaling, pain, redness, and inflammation. In one study, researchers found that patients with outbreaks of psoriasis were more likely to have experienced a stressful event prior to the beginning of a psoriasis episode.

    General Dermatosis

    General dermatosis may include a variety of skin conditions including: rashes, hives, nail dystrophies, or eczema. A study published in 2001 found that itchiness related to dermatosis increased with emotional distress. It also found that people with these conditions were more likely to have experienced psychiatric disturbances.

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    Categories of Psycho-Dermatological Skin Disorders

    There are 3 generally accepted categories of psycho-dermatological skin disorders:

    • Psychophysiological – In these diseases, stress makes the conditions worse.
    • Psychiatric Disorders with Dermatological Symptoms – These are self-inflicted and may include hair pulling, nail biting, or cheek/tongue biting.
    • Dermatological Disorders with Psychiatric Symptoms – These are emotional problems, like anti-social behavior or embarrassment, caused by an existing skin problem.

    How to Reduce Stress to Avoid Skin Problems

    How can you avoid embarrassing, irritating, and sometimes painful skin flare ups? By reducing your stress. Here are a few ways to do that:

    Exercise

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      Exercise reduces the production of stress hormones, like cortisol and adrenaline. But that’s not all. It also increases the production of endorphins, the hormones that put us in a good mood and reduce pain. These two factors will help you relax and reduce your overall stress. One of the best forms of exercise is swimming because it doesn’t feel like exercise! You can have fun in the water while getting healthier. Swimming is also a low impact sport, so it isn’t hard on your joints.

      Meditation

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        Meditation is another great way to relax and reduce overall stress levels. This technique is pretty simple. Find a quiet room and sit with good posture. Close your eyes and repeat a motivational phrase. Maybe something like, “I am happy” or “I feel peaceful”. Try to breathe rhythmically and avoid any other thoughts. Researchers believe that meditation changes the brain’s neural activity, helping you manage stress better.

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        Apps to Stay Positive

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          Reflecting on the positive things in your life can help you stay positive. A great way to do this is by using an app on your phone that can help you keep track of positive experiences. One great option is Happify, which helps you set personal goals. It offers different activities that bring positive words and memories to your attention. Another great app is The Gratitude Journal, which encourages you to write down five positive things that happen to you daily. This is a great way to stay positive about the present and the future.

          You may not be able to completely eliminate stress by practicing these techniques, but you will be able to reduce it. By doing that, you can reduce the occurrence of stress-induced skin disorders.

          Featured photo credit: MasimaTinasheMadonda via pixabay.com

          More by this author

          Amber Pariona

          EFL Teacher, Lifehack Writer, English/Spanish Translator, MPA

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          Last Updated on September 16, 2019

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          How to Stop Procrastinating: 11 Practical Ways for Procrastinators

          You have a deadline looming. However, instead of doing your work, you are fiddling with miscellaneous things like checking email, social media, watching videos, surfing blogs and forums. You know you should be working, but you just don’t feel like doing anything.

          We are all familiar with the procrastination phenomenon. When we procrastinate, we squander away our free time and put off important tasks we should be doing them till it’s too late. And when it is indeed too late, we panic and wish we got started earlier.

          The chronic procrastinators I know have spent years of their life looped in this cycle. Delaying, putting off things, slacking, hiding from work, facing work only when it’s unavoidable, then repeating this loop all over again. It’s a bad habit that eats us away and prevents us from achieving greater results in life.

          Don’t let procrastination take over your life. Here, I will share my personal steps on how to stop procrastinating. These 11 steps will definitely apply to you too:

          1. Break Your Work into Little Steps

          Part of the reason why we procrastinate is because subconsciously, we find the work too overwhelming for us. Break it down into little parts, then focus on one part at the time. If you still procrastinate on the task after breaking it down, then break it down even further. Soon, your task will be so simple that you will be thinking “gee, this is so simple that I might as well just do it now!”.

          For example, I’m currently writing a new book (on How to achieve anything in life). Book writing at its full scale is an enormous project and can be overwhelming. However, when I break it down into phases such as –

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          • (1) Research
          • (2) Deciding the topic
          • (3) Creating the outline
          • (4) Drafting the content
          • (5) Writing Chapters #1 to #10,
          • (6) Revision
          • (7) etc.

          Suddenly it seems very manageable. What I do then is to focus on the immediate phase and get it done to my best ability, without thinking about the other phases. When it’s done, I move on to the next.

          2. Change Your Environment

          Different environments have different impact on our productivity. Look at your work desk and your room. Do they make you want to work or do they make you want to snuggle and sleep? If it’s the latter, you should look into changing your workspace.

          One thing to note is that an environment that makes us feel inspired before may lose its effect after a period of time. If that’s the case, then it’s time to change things around. Refer to Steps #2 and #3 of 13 Strategies To Jumpstart Your Productivity, which talks about revamping your environment and workspace.

          3. Create a Detailed Timeline with Specific Deadlines

          Having just 1 deadline for your work is like an invitation to procrastinate. That’s because we get the impression that we have time and keep pushing everything back, until it’s too late.

          Break down your project (see tip #1), then create an overall timeline with specific deadlines for each small task. This way, you know you have to finish each task by a certain date. Your timelines must be robust, too – i.e. if you don’t finish this by today, it’s going to jeopardize everything else you have planned after that. This way it creates the urgency to act.

          My goals are broken down into monthly, weekly, right down to the daily task lists, and the list is a call to action that I must accomplish this by the specified date, else my goals will be put off.

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          Here’re more tips on setting deadlines: 22 Tips for Effective Deadlines

          4. Eliminate Your Procrastination Pit-Stops

          If you are procrastinating a little too much, maybe that’s because you make it easy to procrastinate.

          Identify your browser bookmarks that take up a lot of your time and shift them into a separate folder that is less accessible. Disable the automatic notification option in your email client. Get rid of the distractions around you.

          I know some people will out of the way and delete or deactivate their facebook accounts. I think it’s a little drastic and extreme as addressing procrastination is more about being conscious of our actions than counteracting via self-binding methods, but if you feel that’s what’s needed, go for it.

          5. Hang out with People Who Inspire You to Take Action

          I’m pretty sure if you spend just 10 minutes talking to Steve Jobs or Bill Gates, you’ll be more inspired to act than if you spent the 10 minutes doing nothing. The people we are with influence our behaviors. Of course spending time with Steve Jobs or Bill Gates every day is probably not a feasible method, but the principle applies — The Hidden Power of Every Single Person Around You

          Identify the people, friends or colleagues who trigger you – most likely the go-getters and hard workers – and hang out with them more often. Soon you will inculcate their drive and spirit too.

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          As a personal development blogger, I “hang out” with inspiring personal development experts by reading their blogs and corresponding with them regularly via email and social media. It’s communication via new media and it works all the same.

          6. Get a Buddy

          Having a companion makes the whole process much more fun. Ideally, your buddy should be someone who has his/her own set of goals. Both of you will hold each other accountable to your goals and plans. While it’s not necessary for both of you to have the same goals, it’ll be even better if that’s the case, so you can learn from each other.

          I have a good friend whom I talk to regularly, and we always ask each other about our goals and progress in achieving those goals. Needless to say, it spurs us to keep taking action.

          7. Tell Others About Your Goals

          This serves the same function as #6, on a larger scale. Tell all your friends, colleagues, acquaintances and family about your projects. Now whenever you see them, they are bound to ask you about your status on those projects.

          For example, sometimes I announce my projects on The Personal Excellence Blog, Twitter and Facebook, and my readers will ask me about them on an ongoing basis. It’s a great way to keep myself accountable to my plans.

          8. Seek out Someone Who Has Already Achieved the Outcome

          What is it you want to accomplish here, and who are the people who have accomplished this already? Go seek them out and connect with them. Seeing living proof that your goals are very well achievable if you take action is one of the best triggers for action.

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          9. Re-Clarify Your Goals

          If you have been procrastinating for an extended period of time, it might reflect a misalignment between what you want and what you are currently doing. Often times, we outgrow our goals as we discover more about ourselves, but we don’t change our goals to reflect that.

          Get away from your work (a short vacation will be good, else just a weekend break or staycation will do too) and take some time to regroup yourself. What exactly do you want to achieve? What should you do to get there? What are the steps to take? Does your current work align with that? If not, what can you do about it?

          10. Stop Over-Complicating Things

          Are you waiting for a perfect time to do this? That maybe now is not the best time because of X, Y, Z reasons? Ditch that thought because there’s never a perfect time. If you keep waiting for one, you are never going to accomplish anything.

          Perfectionism is one of the biggest reasons for procrastination. Read more about why perfectionist tendencies can be a bane than a boon: Why Being A Perfectionist May Not Be So Perfect.

          11. Get a Grip and Just Do It

          At the end, it boils down to taking action. You can do all the strategizing, planning and hypothesizing, but if you don’t take action, nothing’s going to happen. Occasionally, I get readers and clients who keep complaining about their situations but they still refuse to take action at the end of the day.

          Reality check:

          I have never heard anyone procrastinate their way to success before and I doubt it’s going to change in the near future.  Whatever it is you are procrastinating on, if you want to get it done, you need to get a grip on yourself and do it.

          More About Procrastination

          Featured photo credit: Malvestida Magazine via unsplash.com

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