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Psoriasis During the Pandemic: 4 Simple Strategies to Reduce Stress

If you’re feeling the mental and emotional burden of the pandemic, try adding one of these to your day.

Psoriasis During the Pandemic: 4 Simple Strategies to Reduce Stress

Managing psoriasis in the best of times is challenging. Managing psoriasis during the COVID-19 pandemic comes with a number of additional challenges, including a disruption of normal routines and added stress.

Mental and emotional stress are associated with more severe psoriasis and stress can trigger psoriasis flares. Additionally, stress can also negatively impact your overall physical and mental health, contributing to things like heart disease, gastrointestinal disorders, depression, and reduced immune function.

Get help managing stress
Addressing mental and emotional burdens like stress is a key component of the guidelines for managing psoriasis. It is recommended that people with psoriasis take steps to address these burdens, such as working with a counselor or therapist.

In addition to working with a healthcare provider that focuses on mental health, below are four simple daily strategies that might help you lower your stress levels.

Do something mindful
Mindfulness activities like meditation, yoga, deep breathing exercises, and tai chi can help reduce stress. Activities like tai chi and yoga may have added benefits for people who have psoriatic arthritis.

One of the best aspects of mindfulness activities—they are low cost in terms of both money and time. There are plenty of free videos and resources available online (YouTube is one place to start) and even an investment of 10 minutes a day can offer benefits.

Get outdoors (if you can)
Keeping with the theme of mindfulness, try to spend some time outdoors in a natural environment. Spending time outdoors, especially in a natural setting like a park, has been shown to reduce stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Exercising outdoors in a natural setting may have additional benefits, including improved mood and self-esteem.

A study published in Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology in August 2020 looked at the impact of the pandemic lockdown on psoriasis patients. It found that restriction of outdoor activities was associated with an exacerbation in psoriasis symptoms, as well as an exacerbation of stress and depression and anxiety symptoms.

If you are stuck in quarantine or do not have access to a park, you may want to try looking at media of a natural environment. Research has shown that viewing images of natural landscapes and scenery can lower stress levels.

Limit your news consumption
While access to a constantly updating news cycle keeps us informed, it can also increase our stress levels, especially when the news is troubling. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America recommends limiting the amount of time you spend looking at the news—for example, limiting news consumption to a 30-minute block of time, twice a day.

Stay connected
Another side effect of the pandemic lockdown has been social isolation. People are spending more time at home, spending less time with friends and family, and have fewer options for places to go and people to connect with. Feelings of loneliness and isolation negatively impact both physical and mental health and are associated with worse outcomes for many different diseases and conditions.

Take time to connect with the important people in your life. Message someone. Call someone. Organize a group video chat. Also remember that the same devices and apps that allow you to stay in touch with friends and family can also connect you with your healthcare providers. During the pandemic there has been a growing interest in telehealth appointments—and telehealth appointments can help you meet with providers to discuss psoriasis treatment, stress, and mental health.

Medically reviewed in October 2020.

Sources:
William D. James, Dirk M. Elston, et al. "Seborrheic Dermatitis, Psoriasis, Recalcitrant Palmoplantar Eruptions, Pustular Dermatitis, and Erythroderma." Andrews' Diseases of the Skin. Thirteenth edition, 2020.
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Causes and Triggers."
National Psoriasis Foundation. "Life with Psoriasis."
Cleveland Clinic HealthEssentials. "7 Strange Things Stress Can Do to Your Body."
Craig A. Elmets, Craig L. Leonard, et al. "Joint AAD-NPF guidelines of care for the management and treatment of psoriasis with awareness and attention to comorbidities." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2018. Vol. 18, No. 2.
Sarah Kasprowicz and Peter A. Lio. "Complementary and Alternative Medicine." Dermatology. Fourth Edition, 2018.
Elsevier Patient Education. "Psoriatic Arthritis."
Adam Moore, Thomas Gruber, Jennifer Derose and Peter Malinowski. "Regular, brief mindfulness meditation practice improves electrophysiological markers of attentional control." Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 2012. Vol. 6, No. 18.
Christopher R. Berghoff, Linnie E. Wheeless, et al. "Mindfulness Meditation Adherence in a College Sample: Comparison of a 10-Min Versus 20-Min 2-Week Daily Practice." Mindfulness, 2017. Vol. 8.
Hannah R. Koerten,  Tanya S. Watford, Eric F. Dubow and  William H. O’Brien. "Cardiovascular effects of brief mindfulness meditation among perfectionists experiencing failure." Psychophysiology, 2020. Vol. 57, No. 4.
David G. Pearson and Tony Craig. "The great outdoors? Exploring the mental health benefits of natural environments." Frontiers in Psychology, 2014. Vol. 5.
Diana E. Bowler, Lisette M. Buyung-Ali, Teri M Knight and Andrew S Pullin. "A systematic review of evidence for the added benefits to health of exposure to natural environments." BMC Public Health, 2010. Vol. 10.
N. Qwynne Lackey, Deborah A. Tysor, et al. "Mental health benefits of nature-based recreation: a systematic review." Annals of Leisure Research, 2018. Vol. 10.
Kirsten M. M. Beyer, Aniko Szabo, Kelly Hoormann and Melinda Stolley. "Time Spent Outdoors, Activity Levels, and Chronic Disease among American Adults." Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 2018. Vol. 41, No. 4.
Yehong Kuang, Minxue Shen, et al. "Association of outdoor activity restriction and income loss with patient-reported outcomes of psoriasis during the COVID-19 pandemic: A web-based survey." Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 2020. Vol. 83, No. 2.
Hyunju Jo, Chorong Song and Yoshifumi Miyazaki. "Physiological Benefits of Viewing Nature: A Systematic Review of Indoor Experiments." International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 2019. Vol. 16, No. 23.
Daniel K. Brown, Jo L. Barton and Valerie F. Gladwell. "Viewing Nature Scenes Positively Affects Recovery of Autonomic Function Following Acute-Mental Stress." Environmental Science & Technology, 2013. Vol. 47, No. 11.
Aarti Gupta. "COVID-19 Lockdown Guide: How to Manage Anxiety and Isolation During Quarantine." Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
Tzung-Jeng Hwang, Kiran Rabheru, et al. "Loneliness and social isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic." International Psychogeriatrics, 2020.
Debanjan Banerjee and Mayank Rai. "Social isolation in Covid-19: The impact of loneliness." International Journal of Social Psychiatry, 2020. Vol. 66, No. 6.
Heidi Oi-Yee Li and David Huynh. "Long-term social distancing during COVID-19: A social isolation crisis among seniors." Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2020. Vol. 192, No. 21.
Adnan Bashir Bhatti and Anwar ul Haq. "The Pathophysiology of Perceived Social Isolation: Effects on Health and Mortality." Cureus, 2017. Vol. 9, No. 1.

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