Following feedback received from my poll on Instagram, most people were interested in mental health, stress, anxiety and how this affects eczema. Therefore my aim is to write more posts and provide advice on how to manage eczema and mental health and wellbeing. Previously, I wrote about how eczema impacts mental health. This post will focus on what different life factors can affect us managing eczema.
1. Itch scratch cycle
Itchiness happens because of a ‘complex interaction between cells in our skin and nervous system’. Breaking this cycle is not easy and is very much easier said than done. Research has stated that the cycle doesn’t link with the conscious or subconscious mind. Instead, it links to the healing part of the mind. The National Eczema Organisation states that instead of thinking about not scratching, change your thinking to focus on something else. There are also physical things which can be done to prevent scratching. This includes being mindful of allergies, foods and medication. Once these are under control both mental health and eczema should improve and become manageable.
2. Lack of sleep
Several things can cause sleep issues including stress, multiple thoughts in our minds, being away from home etc. Activities which can help us sleep are doing relaxation activities before bed such as having a restful environment and a bedtime routine. As well as not using electronics, not reading or watching the news before bed and wearing an eye mask may improve sleep and anxiety. Being aware of food and drink is also important. Heavy meals with large amounts of meat, carbohydrates and alcohol close to bedtime may also affect sleep.
If a skin product is helping your eczema it may be worth sticking to it regardless of the expense. Remember that you are worthy and investing in something that will help your skin will improve your mental health and confidence.
It is understandable that purchasing skincare products may be difficult for some due to the cost of living crisis. If you’re struggling to fund the costs what could you do in order to afford the purchases? Ask for help? Find a way of making an additional income? Selling unwanted things on eBay? Perhaps a cheaper alternate skincare product? Thinking outside of the box and not remaining limited in options and opportunities can help you long-term. Who knows, you may even become successful in running your own business one day!
Attending eczema-related medical appointments can also affect mental health. This may mean taking time off work or school to attend. This also affects parents of children with eczema as they also need to arrange time away to take their child/ren to appointments. Unfortunately, this is something that cannot be avoided, however, I previously wrote about preparing to see a dermatologist/skin specialist which may be helpful.
Certain jobs and working environments can trigger eczema, impacting mental health. The obvious way to manage mental health and eczema is not to do jobs or work in environments that can trigger our skin. Sadly, this is not always the case and you may be in an environment where eczema triggers your skin at work.
If you are unfortunate enough to be in this situation what could you do in order to improve your skin and wellbeing? Could you raise this with your line manager, HR or Occupational health for any reasonable adjustments to be made? Based on my personal experience I found out that long-term skin conditions are covered under the Single Equality Act 2010, therefore, employers are obliged to make reasonable adjustments at work. The worst-case scenario was what I had to do was leave that organisation ensuring that I wasn’t in a similar office.
Working on time management to complete academic assignments, revise for exams, relaxation, self-care and spend time with loved ones can be challenging. On top of this busy lifestyle keep up to date with your skincare routine. Also, make sure you’re with the right friends/peer group and speaking up about any bullying. If your mental health is affected due to struggling academically what things can be done? A study group with other students? Asking a teacher/lecturer for help and advice about the work? Most schools, colleges and universities offer counselling services so even contacting them could help with mental health.
School holidays can also be an unusual time due to managing skincare routines during heatwaves as well as keeping occupied with fun activities.
This is just the beginning of speaking about how we can manage our eczema and mental health. It clearly demonstrates how different life factors in life affect people. If you enjoyed reading this, my previous posts on seeing a skin specialist, work environments, struggling academically and the impacts on mental health may also help you. The following posts will cover stress, anxiety, confidence and lifestyle. Please keep a look out for these which should be published soon!