Living with psoriasis can affect how confident a person feels outside of the home. It can affect both social and work situations. Whilst many people may not notice or comment on the psoriasis, unfortunately some can be rude and say hurtful things, ask personal questions or simply stare. This often leads to people with psoriasis worry about what others may think. Sometimes other people can make false assumptions about the cause of a skin difference. These beliefs and experiences can cause anxiety, which often leads the person with the skin difference to want to avoid social or work situations. Continuing on from my previous blog post about my own psoriasis journey, I will now look at techniques that will help you live with psoriasis in a positive way.
How can you make a difference to living with psoriasis?
There are many different treatments. Recently, Radio 5 live spoke to Daimen who found baby cream helped reduce his recent flare up. You can find out more about that at the following link https://www.facebook.com/BBCLifestyleHealth/videos/10156076944151108
Baby cream may or may not work. The practical steps below will help you to start living with your psoriasis positively.
Practical Steps to living with psoriasis
There are various practical techniques that can be learnt to deal with reactions of others as well as learning how to cope with your own feelings.
Challenge your thoughts
As mentioned in my blog post about thoughts, we know that there is a link between what you think about a situation, what you feel, and what you do. You need to identify what is the unhelpful thought that you are experiencing. Once you have identified it then you need to challenge it by finding an alternative thought that can help you reduce your anxiety. Click To TweetChallenging your thoughts you need to ask yourself the following questions:
- What is my evidence for this thought?
- Have I had any experiences that suggest that this thought may not be true at all the time?
- Am I falling into an unhelpful pattern of thinking? For example, am I jumping to conclusions? Or am I taking things personally?
- What would I say to a friend who was having this thought?
- Is there another way of viewing this situation?
An example of an unhelpful thought is “Everyone will stare at my psoraisis’. In this situation you have predicted the future. You have no control over the future. If you ask yourself the questions above, you will see you have no evidence or experiences of this being true at all the time. You are jumping to conclusions. A helpful way to think, is to say that no-one will notice me today, and are to busy to be staring or I cannot be sure what will happened today and I have no evidence that what I am worried about will happen.’
People with psoriasis feel it is safer to not go out or avoid conversations with strangers. I know that I had my last psoriasis flare up when my daughter was 2, I avoided all sorts of situations. It led to me becoming isolated and not tackling the situation, and in turn increased my anxiety.
Avoidance strategy can work in the short term but it means you can never get used to the situation. You also do not get the chance to discover if you would have coped with the situation better than you imagined. The best way to increase your confidence is to get used to being in the situation. Although this will initially make you feel more anxious, if you stick with it then your anxiety will reduce and you will feel more comfortable. Then, if you are faced with a similar situation, you are more likely to believe that you will be able to cope. The best way to cope with social situations you feel anxious about, it to list all situations that make you feel anxious. Order the situations from easiest to most difficult. On each situation, rate out of 100, the predicted anxiety level. Next step is to try out the least feared situation on your list. Practice this regularly until you notice that you feel more comfortable and your anxiety is less than 40%. The idea is to work up your list slowly but surely. Take each one slowly and do not move on to the next one, until you ready. Gradually you will see that things get easier and your anxiety reduces.
Dealing with negative comments and reactions
As I said previously, I avoided situations because of my anxiety and because I was worried about what people would say, and found people’s comments intrusive. Reflecting on it, I realise now that I was being controlled by what I thought people would say to me. That is one thing I could not control. I could only control how I reacted it to and my own thoughts. Being asked about your psoriasis is personal. It is frustrating and upsetting. Planning answers in advance can help you feel less nervous and being able to cope with those situations. Dealing with comments in a confident way shows that you’re not worried by what’s happening and the conversation generally moves on.
When people stare. Just smile back! This let’s people know that they are looking but your are not going to be aggressive or antagonize them in anyway. They will then look another way. Try it!
Hopefully the above will be a help to you. If you need further guidance on implementing these or to talk through how the issues are affecting you, then I am here to help you. I provide counselling here in Sheffield or through Skype. Ring 07814 363855 for more details.