3 Ways to Manage Your Emotions

Dealing with a long-term, chronic disease like psoriasis is more than just a physical challenge. It can also test you emotionally.

Uncertainty about what the future will bring, persistent periods of pain and itchiness, and adjusting to medical treatment can lead to depression, anxiety and feelings of helpless despair.

These stresses—in turn—can get in your way on the job and seriously strain relationships with your family and friends.

Fortunately, taking a proactive approach to the stresses of psoriasis can go a long way toward keeping your mood up and your relationship ties strong. Here's how to get started:

1. Know your coping style

"Coping" simply describes the way in which we meet the demands of an unusual situation. Most of us cope actively or passively.

People who cope actively meet challenges head on. They're problem solvers. They express their feelings about their situation openly, and they're flexible in the way they deal with stress. They have no hesitation in seeking information, social support or professional help. They're perfectly willing to change their environment if it seems like a good idea. And they engage in physical activity whenever possible.

People who cope passively, on the other hand, use strategies that try to avoid confrontations with their illness. This can limit your ability to manage the disease adequately and get the treatment you need.

2. Find support for yourself

Your family and friends can be lifesavers in giving you emotional and even physical support to help you deal with your disease, especially during flare-ups. But also keep in mind that over the long-term, psoriasis can put a serious strain on those relationships.

That's why it is important that concerned, knowledgeable third parties (like the members of your psoriasis healthcare team) help you assess how your illness is affecting you physically and what it may be doing to you emotionally and socially. These experts can provide you and your loved ones with critical information as you need it.

You can also find support among people who have experiences similar to yours. Your doctor, local hospital or a friend may be able to suggest a support group.

3. Work to restructure your thoughts

Finally, one of the most successful ways of coping with psoriasis is to reshape your negative ideas about the disease itself. This usually works best with the help of a cognitive-behavioral counselor.

This type of therapy generally begins by educating the patient about the relationship between mind and body and how that relationship can affect the way you feel about your health. You may learn new skills such as meditation or other relaxation techniques, ways to distract yourself, problem solving and goal setting.

Don't forget your treatment
These three coping tips may help you improve your perceptions of your symptoms and make it more likely that you'll communicate openly with your doctor. Be sure to work closely with your medical dermatologist to make the most of your treatment plan.

Published June 2012

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