I can't believe its nearing the end of July already. I am in a LOW STRESS mood because my husband is (finally) back for two weeks from his deployment to Djibouti. (YAY!)
Having him back has made me think about how proud I am of how we both have dealt with this time apart, but it also made me reflect on the good (and the bad) ways I've dealt with stress in the past 9 months. I'm also seeing the new dermatology residents start, and I VIVIDLY remember how stressful that was-- totally new material, a new city, new co-workers, new expectations, etc. I remember my head spinning with endless to-dos...
Everyone knows that heart-beating-way-too-fast and head-spinning anxiety feel (your sympathetic nervous system going ON!). This stress is helpful at times, but it can quickly become maladaptive. It's also not surprising that these fight or flight feels are associated with flares in a variety of diseases. Psoriasis and atopic dermatitis ("eczema") are some diseases that can flare during times of stress. The mind-skin connection is strong, and we find that that when you scratch your skin (even with lack of visible skin disease), it actually becomes itchier! This is the "itch-scratch" cycle that I see everyday. Eczema has even been called "the itch that rashes" aka you scratch so much and the rash rashes out!
I can quote studies and numbers, but y'all know what I'm saying! You gotta learn how to turn that heart-flutter feel off (or at least turn down the volume), and amp up the rest and digest parasympathetic feels.
My favorite ways to turn down the stress?
- Deep breaths
- This sounds simple but focusing on a long inhale and an even longer exhale helps me slow life down when it gets too crazy.
- I've done yoga on and off since I was 17, and it truly is a moving meditation. Namaste!
- Working out. I love Running. Spinning. Getting lost in some Drake on Katy Trail always helps a bad day.
- Little self loves
- Bubble bath. Candles. Pamper yourself like you would for your love! Because you are your number one love!!
- Staying connected
- Hang out with a friend. If that's not possible, call someone or write a letter. These are little ways that remind me of all of the connections that make life so complex and brilliant.
- Okay, I admit, its SO HARD. I'm worse at meditating than I am at spinning. But its like any skill-- you gotta practice. And you have to ACCEPT the imperfections. It helps you train your mind (like you train your bod!) to respond to situations rather than merely REACT to them. And now there are so many apps to help us slow down. I'm currently addicted to Headspace where I can get daily guided meditations!
- Puppy love
- Did you know that sleeping with pets has been linked to longer lives? Hilariously, this is how my own father (not an animal person), started snuggling with a poodle. And I've gotta say, he's much happier. My pup, Ellie, has saved my sanity without my hubby
- Staying true to you
- Lately before taking on any new project, I ask myself, does this make you happy? Yes, there's a lot in life we have to do that's not super fun (hello, taxes), but in many things, you have a choice. You have the power to shape your world and your potential stresses by choosing wisely what you take on.
Mental health and sanity are so important, so take some time for yourself this weekend. Thats doctors orders!
How do you handle stress?!