What is Stress
Stress is the body’s response to various unfavorable incidents happening in the life. The response can be physical (shivering, trembling) or mental (depression, fear, anxiety) or both. The term “unfavorable incidents” refers to various changes in personal and professional life. It is natural to resist changes in life. Any individual would feel stressed when exposed to changes that would affect his life as a whole.
A short list of most common life events which can cause stress is:
· Pressure to improve job performance
· Job change/ job interview
· Sudden life threatening experience
· Performance to get good grades in academics
· Peer pressure/ social pressure
· Differences with your loved ones
· Any chronic health problem
How Stress affects Psoriasis
Chronic stress is a definite trigger for psoriasis. It results in hormonal imbalance, low energy levels and nutritional deficiency. It can upset your stomach, affect your food habits and increase the dependency on addictions like alcohol and smoking. All these factors would eventually affect your body immunity and we all know that psoriasis is an auto-immune disorder.
· Stress causes inflammation
Whenever you feel stressed, your body defends itself by sending out chemicals that cause inflammation. Chronic stress means severe inflammation, which can definitely worsen your psoriasis.
· Stress encourages bad food habits
Stress causes an urge for consuming junk foods rich in salt, sugar and saturated fats. Also, a number of times, you overeat to neutralize the impact of stress. Sometimes, it happens that you make a resolution of staying away from junk foods to improve your health and suddenly under a fierce attack of stress, you end up eating a large piece of hot dog and a can of Pepsi. Hence, stress encourages the consumption of ready to eat and highly processed junk foods which are not at all good for you if you are dealing with psoriasis.
· Stress disturbs your lifestyle
Chronic stress can cause sleep disorders (insomnia) and irregular food habits. Irregular food habits like skipping meals, overeating and eating in a hurried way would cause various digestion related issues like acid reflux, hyper acidity, indigestion and constipation. All these issues can increase the level of toxins in your body and affect your body immunity to worsen psoriasis. Similarly improper sleep can also trigger psoriasis.
· Stress can increase the consumption of alcohol and tobacco (smoking)
A lot of times, people used to take shelter under the umbrella of addictions like alcohol and smoking to pacify the high level of stress in their lives. The negative impact of alcohol and smoking on psoriasis is well acknowledged. Smoking is far bigger a culprit than alcohol for majority of the people having psoriasis.
· Stress weakens your body’s defense system
When your body is under chronic stress, then the body’s defense mechanism would be constantly overworking to keep various unhealthy foreign matters to attack you. If such a state of stress lasts for a longer time, then, eventually, your defense system would get impaired and almost give up. It would make you an easier target for various diseases causing viruses, fungi and bacteria to attack your body.
The vicious circle of Psoriasis and Stress
By now, we have understood that stress has a role to play in psoriasis development and flare up. But, the story is not that simple. Psoriasis itself also causes stress. When you have psoriasis patches on various parts of your body, then public staring and their questions are quite obvious. This can be quite a stressful condition to deal with. Hence, it becomes a vicious circle of stress and psoriasis which can prove very hard to get out of.
How to deal with stress
Luckily, there are healing techniques like yoga, meditation, relaxation and massage therapies which can help in dealing with stress. Not to forget, regular exercise can also play a very big role in stress management.
Accepting your problem helps in relieving stress
Running away from the problem or denying it never helps. It actually increases stress and anxiety. So, there is a need of accepting the problem wholeheartedly and then making the best possible efforts to heal it. Accepting the problem never means quitting. It simply means – I accept my problem, I am not shamed of it and now I would make sincere efforts to heal it. This positive attitude would help in reducing the psoriasis related stress tremendously.