Women 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Good sleep hygiene is also an important factor in health and well-being and managing stress.
Some common tips for good sleep hygiene include:
- 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.
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/