Moderate to severe psoriasis can make you feel like every day is unpredictable. You might worry that you could have a flare at any given moment. Then, the stress that this uncertainty can cause may in fact trigger the very symptoms you were hoping to avoid. When you create a daily routine to reduce the risk of flares and ease your symptoms, you can avoid triggers and make your days feel more predictable and less stressful.
It’s important to allow time in your schedule for three crucial elements: skin care, exercise, and stress management. Here’s all you need to know.
Hold Yourself Accountable
To help ensure you get to all your necessary self-care practices every day, you might consider writing them into your schedule just as you would an important meeting or appointment. That way, you make sure you’ve set aside enough time for all the self-care you need within the flow of your day at work, school, or running your household. Scheduling dedicated time for skin care, medications, exercise, and rest may help prevent a lot of stress, which can be a serious trigger.
Morning and Evening Skin Care
Start and end your day with skin care. It’s extremely important to take care of your skin with the right products to prevent excessive itching, irritation, and flaking. Each morning and evening, when you apply your moisturizer, apply your psoriasis medications as well, according to your doctor’s instructions.
Make daily sunscreen a part of your morning skin care routine, too, whether or not sunburn is a trigger for you. If it is a trigger, sunscreen will help protect against flares. But even if sunburn isn’t a trigger, everyone should use sunscreen when they go outdoors as their first defense against skin cancer.
If you have time, finish your morning and evening skin care with cold compresses to help relieve itching. You can pack them in a small cooler for when you’re out of the house and schedule a few soothing cold compress breaks throughout your day.
It’s important to put a focus on exercise in your psoriasis-friendly daily schedule. Exercise can help make your condition less severe and lower your risk for heart disease, which tends to happen more often in people with psoriasis. It’s also a great way to manage stress, which is a psoriasis trigger for many people.
You can get benefits from exercise no matter when you do it throughout the day. You might want to schedule a morning walk after your psoriasis medication or plan for a few movement breaks throughout the day. Whatever your favorite psoriasis-friendly movement is, be sure to put it on your schedule to help keep you committed to it. The best time to do exercise is at a time that you know you’ll be able to do it.
If you don’t already have an exercise routine that you know works well for your life with psoriasis, talk to your doctor about how to find the best type and intensity of exercise for your needs.
If exercise alone isn’t enough to keep your stress – and your psoriasis symptoms – at bay, build other stress management practices into your daily routine.
Schedule daily mindfulness or relaxation activities like meditation, yoga, or deep breathing exercises to help manage stress triggers. It doesn’t matter which one you choose. Try a few, and go with what feels like it brings you the most benefits.
Another great way to avoid stress is to prepare for anything. That means, every night before work or school, make sure you have everything you need to help you avoid your individual triggers. You can also pack the things you need in a bag that stays in your car or next to the front door.
Your flare-up-causing triggers are unique to you, so you know them best. But here are a few tips on common triggers you might need to prepare for and how to avoid them if they apply to you:
- Bug bites: Double-check that you have bug spray before heading out each day. If needed, write in reminders to use it on your schedule.
- Sunburn: Pack a hat, UV-resistant clothes, and sunscreen. If needed, write reminders on your schedule to reapply sunscreen throughout the day.
- Cold, dry air: If you’ll be in a building with cold, dry air, pack a mini-humidifier and your moisturizers.
- Food triggers: Plan out, and pack if needed, your meals and snacks for the next day to ensure you always have access to something you can eat that won’t trigger a flare.
- Allergies: Take allergy medication with you wherever you go. On the days you need to take it, because you know you might be around allergy triggers, add medication reminders to your written schedule.
Finally, be sure to work in time to rest if you do have a flare-up. Your schedule might be filled with deadlines and your new carefully crafted routine, but sometimes flare-ups happen. Include a little wiggle room in your routine for rest. Plan to complete essential tasks ahead of schedule. That way, your daily routine makes it easy to push something back when you need to take some time off to feel better.
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National Psoriasis Foundation: “Causes and Triggers,” “Must-Have Lotions,” “Active and Mindful Lifestyles.”
American Academy of Dermatology: “Psoriasis: Tips for Managing,” “Sunscreen FAQs.”
Mayo Clinic: “Mindfulness Exercises.”