Spirit

yogaWomen who responded to CPN’s survey recognized dermatologists, social support from family and friends and their own strength and internal coping mechanisms as the main resources that significantly helped them with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.

Unlike psoriasis, confidence IS contagious. A major theme that emerged from CPN’s survey of women with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis was the message of self-acceptance. For many, accepting one’s condition and symptoms was always part of how they’ve lived with the condition. For others, the road to self-acceptance is a bit more challenging and has its ongoing ups and downs. When asked what tips respondents have for other girls and women with these conditions, overwhelmingly the message of hope, positivity and self-acceptance was loud and clear. Check out Women’s Stories for some messages and tips from women who completed CPN’s survey.

This section provides some information and ideas for a healthy lifestyle, especially when living with a chronic condition like psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis that can be useful for day-to-day wellness and for those times when you feel like you’re struggling with your symptoms.

Mental Health and Wellness

Although systemic studies looking at the efficacy of psychosocial interventions are sparse, there is some research to provide some insight into potentially helpful strategies. Talk to you doctor to discuss what might be right for you.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)
Mindfulness meditation
Psoriasis and Lifestyle

Self-care and stress reduction

Regular self-care is important for everyone, especially if you’re living with a chronic health condition. In fact, stress can be a trigger for symptoms or could aggravate a psoriasis flare; at the same time, a psoriasis flare is in itself stressful. Although it can often feel like there is not enough time in the day to engage in relaxation or self-care activities, it’s important to recognize that looking after your overall well-being is extremely valuable for your long-term health and wellness. It’s also ok to prioritize your self-care to help you manage stress overall, and to help you cope at times when you notice your stress is escalating.

 

A good first step is to notice what helps you relax and manage your stress and how you are incorporating these things into your daily routine already. For some people, keeping a journal about their overall condition is helpful. In addition to writing down any changes or updates to your physical condition and symptoms, it can be helpful to build awareness about your stress levels, mental health and well-being.
You can begin by documenting what you are doing currently for your overall wellness, or what you know helps you manage your stress. For some people it could be exercise, reading a good book or engaging in a hobby; for others it could be being with family and friends, or being in nature. Building awareness about what works for you is key. You also want to build awareness about how often you are incorporating these important activities into your schedule.
You can also use your journal to notice when you’re starting to think or behave in ways that indicate to you that you’re particularly stressed. Are you having trouble sleeping, eating more or less, excessively worrying or feeling overwhelmed? Once you have a chance to reflect on how you’re feeling and behaving, you can think about what you’ve been doing that has been helpful, or what new stress management techniques you can try.
Reflecting on how you’re feeling in writing can help you become more aware of how you react to stress and what you can do to manage it; and the act of writing out your thoughts and feelings can, in itself, be a helpful way to unload some of your stress.
Sometimes we even need to make to make time for self-care by scheduling it into our daily and weekly schedules the way that we do with other important commitments or appointments.

 

If you find that what you are currently doing is not working for you, or you would like to try to integrate some new ideas for self-care, you could consider the following.
Meditation – some meditation apps have free versions
Relaxation practices
Deep breathing
Progressive muscle relaxation (to release muscle tension)
Aromatherapy
Yoga
Tai chi
Listening to music that helps you relax
Being in nature
Expressing your feelings
Talking to someone you trust
Journaling
Creative outlets (e.g., creating music, poetry, art/drawing, dance)


If the itch or pain of your skin is too distracting for traditional meditation or relaxation exercises, especially at first, you could talk to your doctor and/or a professional therapist or meditation expert for advice.

You can also talk to your doctor or other health care provider about how to access tools like counselling, meditation and yoga in your jurisdiction. Some private insurance plans cover the costs of certain professionals like social workers and/or psychologists. Some programs may be covered by public health insurance if referred by a doctor. You can also check out free tools online and programs in your community.

 

Healthy Lifestyle

Diet and exercise

In people with psoriasis who are overweight or obese, there is some evidence that dietary and lifestyle changes to reduce weight may decrease severity of psoriasis and improve quality of life.

Weight loss can also reduce the severity of symptoms from psoriatic arthritis. Regardless of disease status, maintaining a healthy weight and following recommended exercise guidelines can improve your overall health and reduce your risk of heart disease and diabetes.
 

Canada’s Food Guide: https://food-guide.canada.ca/en/.

Exercise can be a challenge when you have psoriasis or psoriatic arthritis – heat and sweat can irritate your skin, movement may be difficult, you may feel uncomfortable going to the gym or wearing certain exercise clothing.

A trick to exercising with psoriasis is to keep it simple and low impact – things like gentle stretching, walking, and low impact hiking – and to start slowly and warm up.

It’s always good to talk to your doctor before starting a new exercise program because everyone is different and what might be appropriate for one person, may not for be for another.

Sleep hygiene

Good sleep hygiene is also an important factor in health and well-being and managing stress.

Some common tips for good sleep hygiene include:

sleep hygiene

  • Try to create a regular sleep/wake schedule (practice going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day).
  • Engage in regular exercise in the morning, afternoon or early evening (exercise right before bed can be increase arousal).
  • Avoid exposure to bright lights which can interfere with natural circadian rhythms – turn lights off, use black out curtains and/or eye masks, avoid TV, phones and other screens in the bedroom, tone down brightness on screens in advance of bed.
  • Create a quiet space (use earplugs or white noise).
  • Consider a comfortable temperature and a comfortable mattress and pillow.
  • Avoid heavy meals or drinking within three hours of bedtime (these increase likelihood of heartburn, indigestion and need to urinate).
  • Avoid stimulants like caffeine, alcohol and nicotine before bed.
  • Practice a relaxing bedtime routine including stopping all activating daytime activities an hour before bed.

 

For other ideas, visit Non-Pharmacological / Lifestyle.
Helpful Resources

Mother to Baby (U.S. resource): https://mothertobaby.org/

Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines: http://csep.ca/CMFiles/Guidelines/CSEP_PAGuidelines_0-65plus_en.pdf

Canadian Dermatology Association: https://dermatology.ca/

Canadian Rheumatology Association: https://rheum.ca/

Last updated January 28, 2020.

Disclaimer

This Site was designed for educational purposes only and not for the purpose of rendering medical advice. Individual variances in psoriasis cases require the consultation of a physician to make sound medical decisions. The information presented on this website is not intended to replace the counsel of your physician. It is important to see your doctor before altering anything in your treatment plan. The Canadian Psoriasis Network does not endorse any medications, products, equipment or treatments for psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis.  Any of the information contained within the Canadian Psoriasis Network’s Site is not presented as a substitute for informed medical advice. Visitors to this site should not engage in self-diagnosis nor act on information contained in the Site without seeking specific advice on the particular matters which are of concern to them from qualified health professionals and advisors. Some of the information contained in the Site has been provided from external sources. While efforts have been made to ensure the accuracy, currency, and reliability of the content, the Canadian Psoriasis Network accepts no responsibility in that regard.  Please refer to our Terms of Use for further details.

 

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