How Did Stress Trigger my Autoimmune Disorder?
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A little over 5 years ago, I began noticing a rash on my lower back just under my waistline which was later diagnosed as psoriasis. I strongly believe that stress was the initial trigger for this autoimmune disorder.
At the time, this small area of skin could be covered up by clothing and didn’t impact my daily life all that much.
But as the years have gone by since my first symptoms appeared … new psoriasis patches have started to show up on my body, and the small patch on my back has spread.
Overall I would say that my psoriasis is mild compared to other more severe cases.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t want mine to go away for good … which won’t likely happen.
Treating My Psoriasis Without Drugs and Steroids
For over the past year, I have been identifying the ways I can help manage my psoriasis, which include many at home treatments and remedies.
At this point, I am not interested in taking autoimmune drugs or steroids to treat my psoriasis symptoms. I would rather take a more natural approach that starts with healing my gut.
So far, changing my diet to eating more whole foods that are nutrient dense has helped minimize my symptoms to a certain point.
I have found that drinking a lot more water throughout my day has helped too. And adding some lemon juice to that water keeps my liver functioning properly, which helps push toxins out of my body.
Getting enough sleep has also been a focus of mine. Not enough sleep will almost certainly lead to autoimmune flare ups.
Let’s not forget about getting enough healthy exercise too.
I don’t want to over stress my body by pushing too hard … that isn’t good for someone with an autoimmune condition. But that doesn’t mean exercise isn’t important.
I try and follow a weekly exercise routine to help keep my body fit and functioning properly.
All of these habits and activities have helped to control my psoriasis symptoms somewhat … but not completely.
The one area of my life I have found to have the biggest impact on managing my autoimmune symptoms is actually not my diet, exercise, or any of the other items I have mentioned.
Stress Management is the Key to Managing My Psoriasis
The best way to minimize my psoriasis is actually through stress management.
It took me a long time to realize the harmful effects that stress can have on your body.
Even if you don’t have an autoimmune disorder … chronic stress can be harmful to your health.
And in my case, I wasn’t able to manage and minimize my chronic stress, which led me down a dark road.
My lack of stress management many years ago likely triggered my autoimmune disorder … which is psoriasis.
Today, I would like to share a story from my past about the reasons why stress likely caused my psoriasis.
Factors That Likely Contributed to My Autoimmune Disease
I have been able to trace the start of my autoimmune symptoms (over 5 years ago) back to stress.
High levels of stress and my lack of controlling it properly likely caused my autoimmune disorder.
There are many factors that can contribute to having an autoimmune condition actually, not just stress.
For example, a poor diet filled with sugary, highly processed foods could be a likely suspect.
My diet has usually been good, since our family follows a mostly paleo lifestyle. And a couple times per year we step it up by doing a Whole30.
Other triggers of autoimmune disease could include – heavy alcohol consumption, smoking, and a sedentary lifestyle. These factors can all play a role in autoimmune disease development.
The good news for me is that I don’t smoke and like to stay very active. I drink on occasion but nothing excessive.
Not getting enough quality sleep is yet another potential contributing factor.
I have struggled some with getting enough sleep, but it is something I am constantly trying to change.
Even taking too many antibiotics has been linked to some autoimmune conditions.
I don’t take any prescriptions and almost never take antibiotics so I know that isn’t much of a factor.
The one thing I keep coming back to … and I would assume a lot of other people are in the same situation … is stress. I think it was (and still is to a certain extent) a huge trigger for developing my autoimmune disease.
I believe that stress was the trigger that caused my psoriasis many years ago … and it still impacts my life today.
Why Did Stress Caused My Psoriasis?
Looking back at that time period in my life (over 5 years ago) … it seems really silly I was stressed at all.
I won’t get into all the personal details, but I was coaching a youth travel sports team at the time. A couple of the parents (who are basically jerks) kept giving me a hard time about all sorts of things about the team.
I will say it again … it is all very silly looking back at it now.
The good news is that those nasty parents I was dealing with haven’t been in my life since then and I’m doing just fine.
To make a really long story short, these parents basically tried to bash my name and reputation and for a while it worked. They used social media and all sorts of things to make me look like a really bad person … which I don’t think is true at all.
Anyways, this had a profound impact on my daily life and I was constantly stressed about it. The stress got so severe that it caused horrible stomach pains along with other symptoms.
The good news is that I managed to grow from that situation and I don’t let stress bother me like that anymore. If someone doesn’t like me or has a problem with me … I really don’t care.
And that has really helped me deal with stress at work, with my family, and our social lives.
But the unfortunate side effects of my stress many years ago … was not long after I started noticing my psoriasis patches.
Stress Still Causes Most Flare Ups Today
Living a life without stress is pretty much impossible.
But what is possible is the ability to manage one’s stress levels and minimize the impacts it can cause. This is critical for anyone living with an autoimmune disorder, including psoriasis.
One thing I have noticed about managing my own stress is when I do a bad job of it … I almost always get nasty flare ups of my psoriasis.
For example, a stressful drive to the beach with my family a few years ago caused a ton of scaling and itchiness of my patches.
I remember a lot of traffic, construction, and generally just a bad drive on this trip that really was stressful. When we arrived at our destination, I just knew that stress caused my flare up.
I have plenty of other stories I could bore you with about how stress made my psoriasis worse … but I won’t.
How I Try to Manage My Stress Today
I have learned a bunch about my body over the past several years … especially when it comes to stress.
Like I mentioned earlier, it would be impossible to think we could go through life without any stress. And in many cases, a little stress isn’t such a bad thing.
But chronic stressing out about work, school, family, etc. can be a huge problem. And to make matters worse, it can really accelerate symptoms for anyone who suffers from an autoimmune disease.
I am by no means an expert on stress management, but I think I have gotten better. Here is a list of of things I am doing today to manage my stress levels.
1. Deep Breathing Exercises
I have started doing deep breathing exercises to help manage my stress levels. This is especially useful when I am at work or in a situation where I can’t use other stress management techniques.
I start these exercises by counting to 5 as I slowly breath in. Then I hold my breath for about 3 seconds and finally slowly breath out for another 5 seconds.
This is one of the best stress management methods I have found and it does wonders for helping keep my psoriasis in check.
2. Morning Meditation
I used to think that mediation was a bit silly.
But once I started doing morning mediation, I would have to say it can help with stress management.
I only do 3 to 5 minutes of morning mediation, but it helps to kick my day off with a positive attitude.
My plans are to eventually try and mediate for 5 to 10 minutes as I continue to grow in this area.
3. Afternoon Walks
One of my favorite daily activities now is to take a 30 minute walk at lunch. This really helps me deal with the stress from my job and my life in general.
Not only am I able to calm down and enjoy nature, I am getting a bit of exercise in … which is another important healthy pillar.
Plus I get the chance to get a little sun exposure and can breath in some clean, fresh air.
Living with an Autoimmune Disorder
I know for certain that stress was a big trigger for my autoimmune disorder many years ago. I wasn’t able to properly get a handle on my stress and it eventually caused my psoriasis.
The goods news is that I am actively taking steps to manage my psoriasis … which minimizes my symptoms.
Healthy eating and daily exercise are important tools to minimize autoimmune disorders like psoriasis. Getting enough quality sleep is another.
But the biggest factor in my situation is how well I can manage my stress. The more I let stress disrupt my life, the worse my psoriasis symptoms get.
Fortunately I have learned from past mistakes and understand my autoimmune triggers. The stress management methods I listed earlier are just a few of the things I am doing to take control of my health and my autoimmune disease.
Do you have an autoimmune disorder? Does stress have a negative impact on your symptoms? What steps have you taken to manage your stress levels?