Did you know eczema and anxiety go hand in hand? Having eczema itself causes anxiety because you first worry about your appearance. You also worry about the next flare-up. This causes an endless cycle of eczema and anxiety.
As a result of eczema and anxiety, without realizing it, you’ve also developed negative self-talk towards yourself.
This is one of the most important areas you’ll need to address on your healing journey.
Have you ever stopped to think about the way you talk to yourself? Identifying positive and negative self-talk habits is an important step when healing from your eczema and/or topical steroid withdrawal.
- What do you say to yourself while you scratch away at that bone-deep eczema itch?
- What do you say to yourself after you have finished scratching yourself and you are left to deal with the aftermath?
- What do you say to yourself first thing in the morning when you see your dry, flaky, red skin?
- What do you say to yourself while you apply your oils and moisturizers and deal with all those sensations of your skin still itching, stinging, burning, and while you wait for yourself to cool down?
If you’ve never thought about these questions before, you probably don’t realize what you are saying to yourself in those moments.
However, you are definitely saying something to yourself in these situations.
Before I was introduced to negative self-talk, I never really gave a thought to what I was saying to myself let alone the thoughts regarding eczema.
I never even realized eczema and anxiety would affect one another.
I will give you some examples of the things I used to tell myself. I still sometimes say these things to myself without realizing it because I’ve talked to myself a certain way when it comes to eczema ever since I’ve had it as a kid.
Waking up in the mornings getting ready for work/school, after a rough night of itching, my skin already feels dry and tight. I look at my face and skin in the mirror to see dry, cracked, peeling, flaky, and red skin.
What I say to myself without realizing it:
- Ugh, I have to deal with my skin again (which is every day). It looks like shit! What did I eat or do to trigger this?!
- I’m already tired from my sleepless and itchy night. I don’t feel like dealing with this and going to work.
- It’s okay, you can sleep on your commute and when you get home tonight, sleep earlier.
- Crap, I only have 30mins left to get ready and make my skin look presentable before I head out to work/school.
- I can never get control over my skin.
- What if people notice the redness and flakiness?
- Let me scratch and peel away some dead dry skin and make my skin look better.
- Hopefully, my skin looks better tomorrow.
I’m in this crazy itchy state where nothing is working, even if I were to take an antihistamine. Even though I’m scratching, it’s not going away and my eczema is getting worse in those small moments of the satisfaction from scratching. My eczema patches are in a worse state than before.
What I say to myself without realizing it:
- Stop scratching you idiot! It’s going to make it worse.
- Don’t you have any self-control?! The more you scratch the worse it’s going to get!
- Get yourself together, distract yourself with something.
Analyzing your self-talk
In both situations, the way I talk to myself, the tone is pretty rough. I have zero self-compassion for myself in those moments. That’s the last thing I think about it.
All I think about is my eczema, the appearance, the pain, and the discomfort. It takes me away from the present moment.
These are just two situations you probably deal with on a daily basis. But there are more situations we deal with throughout the day.
The constant discomfort of feeling your dry, irritated and itchy skin throughout the day also results in negative self-talk.
This then in turn affects your eczema and anxiety.
I tell myself, I don’t want to do this or that, I don’t want to interact with him or her because I feel shitty (because of eczema). So what ends up happening is that you live in the future and the past.
You tell yourself when I feel better, I’ll do this or that. When my eczema looks much better and I feel better is when I’ll be sociable. But today, I don’t feel like talking to anyone or presenting at work, or giving my 110% at any given task.
You hold on to the past and cling on to those “good” skin days and you wait and wait and wait.
As you keep waiting for the future of a better life without eczema or at least where it doesn’t interfere with your quality of life, you have the memory and experiences of life without eczema or a good skin day.
Your future and past are causing friction with your present day.
This is the endless cycle of eczema and anxiety.
You wake up each and every day, hoping that today is the day that your skin will be much clearer, where you can be who you want to be and not worry about your appearance and live freely. But unfortunately, most days, it’s not like that.
Without realizing it, at that moment, your negative self-talk will continue to drive your emotions and thoughts.
Since negative self-talk is happening every day, you have to start listening to what you say to yourself.
I used to wake up every day, hoping that today would be the day, my skin would be presentable, less dry, flaky, and red.
If it was that kind of day, I felt that I could take on the day and slowly move towards becoming the person I want to be.
But as you know, those good skin days are extremely hard to come by.
Without realizing it, my self-confidence and self-esteem would take a small hit each and every day.
You can probably imagine how I felt in those moments.
It’s not easy dealing with that on a physical level but also on a mental level.
I had to talk to myself as if I was talking to someone else who had eczema. The things I told myself whenever I dealt with eczema, were not the most supportive or compassionate.
Would I speak like that if my siblings or future kids or my friends had eczema? Hell no.
But for some reason, we talk to ourselves in an aggressive negative way. I think we do that because of the constant pain we are dealing with and we don’t know any other way.
I feel like I’m hard on myself subconsciously so I can deal with the pain on a daily basis. It’s almost like I am protecting myself from the pain and the negative self-talk is like that hard-ass coach.
So now what?
Well, first things first, you’ll need to analyze and self-audit how you are feeling in the moments and right after you deal with eczema.
Sometimes, the pain is so much that I don’t remember what am I saying to myself while I scratch or itch in those moments.
But how do I analyze my thoughts then?
I started by writing out how I feel in a journal or even on my phone. If you are worried about someone seeing it, keep it in a safe private place or password-protect your notes.
This too takes some level of commitment to remember to write your thoughts and feelings.
The most important thing to remember is not to filter your thoughts.
Write everything that you feel. The happy, sad, mad, frustrated, angry thoughts.
Don’t judge yourself for the things you write as well because this is your inner dialogue talking while dealing with the pain.
As you start to write your feelings, you’ll notice the tone of these thoughts.
This is where the change will start to happen.
Once you see your thoughts on paper (or on-screen), you’ll notice how the tone changes from your good (skin) days to the bad days.
Once you see this in front of you is when it becomes easier to be nicer to yourself in those moments of itchiness.
Say goodbye to eczema and anxiety
If your eczema or just your skin health, in general, is not where you want it to be, you first need to address nutrition.
For most people, it’s hard to address what they eat. It’s an entire lifestyle shift.
But once you make that shift and see the healing benefits, you won’t turn back.
Your skin will start to heal from the inside out and you’ll even have more energy.
Your thoughts will also start to change.
The itching, redness, and dryness will start to fade and almost disappear.
I’ve tried a lot of treatments and diets in the past, but the one thing that made the biggest difference is focusing on nutrition to heal from the inside out.
If you are struggling with your mindset and nutrition, consider working with a Skin Health Coach like me! I’ll help you address your eczema and anxiety head-on.
I understand what you are going through on a physical, mental, and emotional level.
I’ve walked your painful journey and healed myself. I want to help you too.
Sometimes, all you need is a little bit of guidance, coaching, and support.
Still not convinced? Book a free 30min call to find out more!
Don’t let your eczema and anxiety hold you back from living your life.
Everything Eczema was created by Kishok (Certified Nutritional Practitioner, 2023) to help the millions of people around the world who are suffering from atopic dermatitis (eczema) and topical steroid withdrawal (TSW). Our goal is to educate and empower you on how to manage your eczema so you can live your greatest life!Learn more