Health Conditions / Mental Health

These Stress Relief Activities Actually Work, According to Experts

These Stress Relief Activities Actually Work, According to Experts

If you feel like your stress has been next-level lately, you might find a tiny bit of comfort in the fact that you’re definitely not alone. According to the American Psychological Association’s 2022 Stress in America report, concerns about money and global uncertainty, to name two huge factors, have spiked personal stress to sky-high levels in the US.Part of the reason we’re all so unnerved: 87% of respondents agreed that “it feels like there’s been a constant stream of crises over the last two years” (understatement) and 73% reported that they feel “overwhelmed by the number of crises facing the world right now.” And on top of an ongoing global pandemic, ever-upsetting news cycles, and rising gas and grocery costs, many of us are also still dealing with common daily-life stressors like family, career, and relationship drama. There’s no quick-fix way to make stress disappear, of course. (And if it’s a chronic issue that’s preventing you from living a fulfilling life, talking to a professional may be the best way to relieve some of the pressure and improve your well-being—more on that later.) But there are expert-backed stress-relief activities you can experiment with when you’re feeling overwhelmed.By drawing from research on psychology practices including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, and meditation, you might be able to build a kit of coping tools that work for you when life becomes too much. Below, two licensed therapists share their favorite strategies for getting short-term relief from stress and anxiety. What is stress, exactly? According to the National Institute of Mental Health, stress is your body’s reaction to something that’s happening to you or around you. An important presentation at work, a hectic and noisy commute, or even a date with someone you’re excited to meet can all put your body on notice that something big is happening, which can activate your fight-or-flight stress response.1 A stressor can be a one-time thing (like an upcoming exam or turbulent flight) or a long-term occurrence (in the case of a chronic health condition, for example, or an overwhelming job).Stress is a bit different than anxiety, though, which many of us are also familiar with. When you’re stressed out, your physical symptoms will usually naturally resolve once the stressor goes away. Anxiety, on the other hand, which is your body’s internal reaction to stress, might not dissipate so quickly. Even when there isn’t an immediate physical or emotional threat, anxiety is a psychological state that tends to linger. Some physical symptoms of both stress and anxiety include:An elevated heart rate Increased blood pressureHeadacheRestlessness or insomniaRacing thoughts or worry No matter how your stress manifests, if it starts to feel overwhelming and you’re looking for relief, consider trying some of these expert-backed stress-reduction strategies for relaxing your mind and body:Stress-relief activities that actually workCount down to get grounded.When your internal pressure is high, tuning into your external environment is one stress-relieving practice that might help you feel a bit more chill. Rhayvan Jackson-Terrell, LCSW, wellness director at NYC Health and Hospitals and a telehealth therapist, tells SELF that she often recommends the “5-4-3-2-1 method” to her clients as a mindfulness activity designed to get you out of your head and into the present moment. 

How to Stop Taking Your Anger Out on Loved Ones

How to Stop Taking Your Anger Out on Loved Ones

The good news, according to Dr. Bobby, is that situational rage is the least complicated type of misdirected anger to work on. “The first step is recognizing, I’m not myself right now; I’m going through something difficult that’s making me think and feel in angry ways,” she says. “Instead of following your feelings, it’s much more helpful to say to yourself, I’m not going to get tricked into believing this narrative is true.”Take this scenario: You’re healing from a surgery and the pain is making you irritable to the extent that it’s clouding the lens you view life through: A slightly messy home looks hopelessly squalid to you. Whether or not you’re partly to blame for said disarray, you’re now furious with your partner for “never” cleaning up. Dr. Bobby recommends asking yourself, “How are my emotions coloring this story?” before you accuse your partner of chronic disrespect, which will likely leave them hurt, confused, and/or defensive.In other words, rewriting your anger-provoking narrative may create some space between you and the hot feelings that seem to be whispering, “Slam the cabinet doors real loud and just go OFF!” in your ear.Examine the patterns you learned from your family.The behavior and beliefs you’ve learned from your family of origin can majorly inform how you handle most things, including anger. “When we’ve watched them either raging or bottling stuff up and then exploding, we unconsciously absorb that as how to be in the world—particularly in relationships,” Dr. Bobby says.This can be uniquely complicated for those raised within a non-Western family culture, Siddiqi says. “A lot of first-, second-, and third-generation children grew up in families where anger wasn’t really talked about because it was a collectivist culture,” she explains. “It was never about their individual needs, but about what’ll keep the family unit happy.”Ultimately, Siddiqi says, this can lead to “a lot of cognitive dissonance” and pent-up frustration that people never learned to express directly. “Some clients that I work with will be totally fine with their parents on the surface, but actually be really angry at them about something and then take it out on their partner,” she explains.Siddiqi works with clients from a variety of cultural backgrounds to help them unlearn family-modeled patterns of destructive behavior through reflection and devising new “scripts,” meaning clearer language that lets them express their true emotions. “You’d be surprised at how many times people tell me, ‘I want to express my anger, but I don’t even know what to say,’” she says. “A lot of people don’t have the emotional education to know the difference between healthy and defensive words, or that a ‘you’ statement versus an ‘I’ statement can have a really big impact on the other person.”For example, when you’re asking for that alone time after work, Siddiqi recommends saying something like, “When I come home, I need time by myself before I share about my day. I feel overwhelmed when you ask me a lot of questions at once. I’d like to talk in 15 minutes so I can decompress. Does that sound reasonable to you?”

8 Coping Skills Therapists Use When They’re Really Angry

8 Coping Skills Therapists Use When They’re Really Angry

If taking a few deep breaths simply isn’t cutting it (you know, when you’re super ticked off), you can still use the power of your lungs to your benefit. Atmakuri recommends exhaling forcefully (think a dragon breathing fire), sighing loudly, exercising in a way that gets your heart rate up, or just crying it out to expel the negativity.6. Consciously think about anything else.Once you reflect on your anger and start to process or release it, you might realize you’re upset about something that’s actually pretty trivial—say, your partner is running a few minutes late. In this scenario, Chloe Carmichael, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and the author of Nervous Energy: Harness the Power of Your Anxiety, turns to something she calls the “mental shortlist” technique.The practice involves focusing on other thoughts whenever you’re tempted to stew about something that’s truly insignificant—a “nothing burger,” if you will. So, in the case of your slightly tardy partner, your “mental shortlist” might include things like catching up on reading, sorting through pictures on your phone, listening to that podcast you’ve been meaning to catch up on, or anything else that will force you to redirect your thoughts intentionally. Or if you want to give things a positive spin, it could involve “brainstorming gift ideas for your [partner] or conversation topics you’re excited to discuss when they arrive,” Dr. Carmichael says.If you find yourself constantly irritated over “nothing burgers,” though, that’s worth paying attention to. “You may want to do a deeper dive to see if there’s something bigger that’s bothering you and resulting in irritability,” Dr. Carmichael notes.7. Physically adjust your body to temper your emotions.Therapists are no strangers to the mind-body connection, a concept that often comes up in their personal approaches to frustration. For example, when she’s swirling in her angry thoughts, Wang adjusts her facial expressions and hand positionings. Specifically, she turns to a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) technique called “Willing Hands and Half-Smiling.” For “willing hands,” she places her arms alongside her body, keeping them straight or bent slightly at the elbows. She then turns her hands outward, unclenched, with her fingers relaxed and palms facing upward. To practice “half-smiling,” she tries to relax her face, letting go of her facial muscles and tilting the corners of her lips upward, adopting a serene facial expression. “It’s very difficult to stay angry with ‘Willing Hands and Half-Smiling.’ I can feel the tension and energy lift off me when I practice these skills,” Wang says.8. Give your body the attention it deserves.“Emotions live in our bodies,” Wang stresses. “So, when I feel irritated, my initial thoughts are: Have I eaten? Am I hydrated? Do I need to take a nap? Most of the time, I feel better when my physical body is taken care of.” When you nurture your body, you’ll also nurture your mind and give it the support it needs to cope with the stress of anger.To better learn about her own body’s needs, Rachel Weller, PsyD, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral health at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City, turns to a mindfulness skill called body scanning. It involves relaxing in a comfortable position while noticing external sensations (like sounds and odors) and observing your breath. Then, starting from the top of your head, mentally scan your body—section by section—while acknowledging how each part is feeling. Are your eyes heavy? Is your neck tense and achy? Is your stomach rumbling? As Dr. Weller explains: “Tuning into our physical sensations, like muscular tension, breath, pressure, and tingling, often allows us to increase the connection between our brains and bodies.” This, ultimately, can help you uncover the deeper meanings behind fiery emotions—anger and everything in between, she says. After all, she says, “Our bodies often hold facts that our mind is unable to discover.”Related:

How to Stop Being Angry at Yourself for Your Mistakes

How to Stop Being Angry at Yourself for Your Mistakes

Recognizing similar experiences in your past can be illuminating, Dr. Chu-Peralta adds. For example, if the last time you experienced chronic headaches and self-recrimination was when you were a kid with a hypercritical parent, it may be that feeling angry at yourself at work is a response to an equally fault-finding boss. Identifying these connections can help you begin to see the anger for what it is: a maladaptive coping mechanism that it’s time to let go of. If you try to dismiss the rage or white-knuckle your way through it, on the other hand, “it will often come back twice as strong,” Dr. Chu-Peralta says.If you can’t stop dwelling, try temporarily distracting yourself.While ignoring your feelings can be disastrous in the long-term, in the short-term, shifting your focus may help you get some perspective—and give yourself a break. Martin suggests harnessing the power of distraction, since merely interrupting a self-critical thought can often shut it down. “If you’re ruminating, try going for a walk, doing a crossword puzzle, or listening to your favorite playlist or podcast,” she suggests. It sounds simple, but it’s often enough to make a real difference, according to Martin, since rumination—the act of replaying negative thoughts on a loop—typically yields diminishing returns. The more you mull, the less helpful your thoughts become.Once you’ve halted the negative thought and have enough distance to look at your anger objectively, Martin advises that you then ask yourself a simple question: “Is it possible that I’m exaggerating my misdeeds or inadequacies?” Often, the answer will be yes, it is indeed possible. Another helpful question: “Even if I did really screw up, does beating myself up right now teach me anything new about the experience?” Nearly always, the answer will be a resounding no. This exercise is another way to put your self-directed anger in perspective.Resist the urge to keep score.“Try not to search for whatever the ‘ultimate truth’ of the situation is,” Dr. Chu-Peralta says. “Don’t try to determine who was right and who was wrong, including yourself.” You may think that identifying the rightful source of blame will finally adjudicate the issue, “solving” it somehow and allowing you to move on. You may also think that somehow if you dig deep enough into that long-ago occurrence, you’ll find the objective evidence that you are, in fact, a terrible person. But all this incessant judgment does is keep you pinned to that long-gone situation you can no longer change.Say you’re stuck on a friend breakup from several years ago. You said some things you regret. She said some things you hope she regrets. Either way, you have convinced yourself the friendship’s downfall lies on your shoulders. You ask yourself: Who was really at fault? Who was the villain? Who was the wronged party?But here’s what’s actually important, according to Dr. Chu-Peralta: Even if you could answer these questions definitively, which you can’t, the answers would likely have little impact on how you feel. Who cares if she said three unkind things and you said four? Either way, the net result is the same. What matters, then, is how you move forward—not how you interpret (and reinterpret, and keep reinterpreting) the past.Acknowledge your mistakes—to yourself or the person you hurt.Martin puts it succinctly: “If you’ve actually harmed someone else, make amends if you can.” Of course, there’s a difference between true misdeeds and those you’ve inflated or even imagined. But for all practical purposes, that difference may not matter. If you think apologizing might help you to stop engaging in self-directed anger, and if you think you really did cause harm, it’s worth the effort, Martin says. It may mean more to that person than you anticipate.

6 Signs Your Anger Issues Would Benefit From Therapy, According to Experts

6 Signs Your Anger Issues Would Benefit From Therapy, According to Experts

Not only can these emotional eruptions be harmful to yourself and others, but they likely mean you’re struggling with managing an underlying problem. Maybe you feel unnerved about your overwhelming job or your dysfunctional relationship, or maybe you’re struggling with disordered eating. It’s worth exploring how early experiences with trauma might be contributing to your anger issues too, Dr. Fedrick says. For example, if you grew up in an unstable or abusive household, you might have learned to adapt by being overly accommodating or leaving the room instead of expressing your feelings. “When there is unprocessed trauma, you might carry these beliefs (like ‘people are not safe’ or ‘I can’t trust anyone’) into adulthood,” Dr. Fedrick explains.If you’re regularly bottling up your feelings or forcing yourself to smile when you’re struggling, you may end up flipping out over seemingly unrelated things as a result, Dr. Robbins says. A therapist can help you unpack and address the roots of your rage, and they can teach you how to express your emotions in a healthier, less volcano-esque way.5. You’re showing other signs of depression.Along with more well-known symptoms like sleeping too much or too little, having difficulty concentrating, and feeling sad or hopeless, irritability and anger are also signs of clinical depression. Remember, anger doesn’t have to look like yelling or breaking things to disrupt your quality of life. If you’re experiencing any of the depression symptoms above and you also notice that you’re easily irritated over the smallest annoyances or mistakes, or that maybe you’re fixating on past failures and getting fired up as a result, talking to a professional might help, Dr. Fedrick says.As with anxiety, depression is something your primary care doctor can screen you for and discuss treatment options, including therapy or prescription antidepressant medications, to relieve your symptoms. If your anger is, indeed, depression-related, a therapist can help you identify any contributing life circumstances and develop new strategies to cope, says Dr. Robbins.6. Your personal relationships are suffering.Arguments are bound to happen in any relationship—and no one likes to be told to calm down— but if your partner, say, frequently leaves the room to escape your wrath or tells you that your rage scares them, your anger is likely masking a deeper problem, Dr. Robbins says. And if your loved ones often seem blindsided when you snap at them, that’s another red flag: a sign of misplaced anger, which can erode your bond over time. If, for example, you’re stressed about your boss cutting back on hours at work, you might take it out on your mom by speaking to her in a harsh tone or saying things you’ll later regret, Dr. Robbins says.Therapy can provide a neutral and supportive space to help you figure out what’s really triggering your anger and learn alternative behaviors that’ll promote intimacy versus making you feel further apart from the people you care about. For example, a therapist can help you learn to pause and gather your thoughts before responding, encourage you to use “I” statements (“I feel frustrated when you cancel our plans to hang out with your friends”), or suggest that you practice being more vulnerable (“I’m worried about money or losing my job”) or assertive (“I need you to call when you’re going to be late”) in the moment, instead of bottling up your feelings, Dr. Robbins explains.How to find help for coping with angerDeciding you’d like to talk to someone to help you unpack and manage your anger is one thing, but if you’re new to therapy or don’t currently have a therapist you love, finding that person might feel overwhelming. Luckily, there are quite a few resources that can make the process less intimidating.

3 Things to Do to When You Feel an Anger Spiral Coming On

3 Things to Do to When You Feel an Anger Spiral Coming On

Perhaps your cheeks start to flush, your heart picks up its pace, or it feels like a rage boa is starting to constrict your chest. It could be that the news has your blood simmering, or your Wi-Fi decided to betray you in the middle of a particularly stressful workday by grinding to an infuriatingly slow speed, or maybe your partner, yet again, left the wet towels in the washer all damn day.Firing off, losing your shit, flipping the fuck out—however you describe it, your body is telling you that it’s about to go down. Though anger is a perfectly normal (and often productive!) emotion, it doesn’t always feel so great when it spirals out of control. You might be mad for a legit reason, but when the triggering event is further fueled by angry thoughts—What’s wrong with these people? This can’t be happening to me! How hard is it to toss the towels in the dryer?!—rage can quickly overtake you, causing you to say or do things you later regret.To keep you from reaching that point of no return, we asked Stacey B. Daughters, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist and the director of the Biobehavioral Research on Addiction and Emotion Lab at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, for her best tips on preventing brewing rage from turning into an all-out anger spiral.Get out of your hot head.“To stop the anger spiral, you need to create space between your emotions and actions,” Dr. Daughters says. In other words, it can be helpful to interrupt your automatic (and often unproductive) reaction to anger before it completely takes over and drives your behavior. Brief (as in 10 minutes or less) guided meditations or breathing exercises are one way to do that, but if you’re in no mood for that advice, try moving around.“Physical activity has been shown to decrease anger, allowing you to think about the situation more clearly beyond those initial feelings of rage,” Dr. Daughters says. And it doesn’t need to be an intense workout, either. We’re all for a rage run, but moderate aerobic exercise—walking briskly, dancing, punching and kicking the air to Rage Against the Machine—for 20 to 30 minutes is all it takes, she adds.Identify the root(s) of your rage.If you’re able to stop your spiral (or at least delay it) by practicing a bit of mindfulness, you can then try asking yourself why you’re really upset. “Anger is a valid emotion and it’s also a secondary emotion,” Dr. Daughters explains. “It’s often protecting us from feelings that are difficult to face.” Are you furious that you didn’t get that expected raise? Perhaps the anger is protecting you from feelings of low self-esteem. Or maybe you’re pissed off that your partner didn’t return your calls or texts all day. In that case, your anger might be shielding you from a deep fear that they don’t really love you or that you’re not lovable in general.

What Do We Do With All This Anger?

What Do We Do With All This Anger?

If you feel emotionally pummeled by any of this, you aren’t alone. Survey after survey shows that we’re sad, and worried, and stressed—and furious. That’s why, when we started discussing anger at SELF a few months ago, I felt some solace. Our editors opened up to each other about the last time they were consumed by anger and shared the feelings that accompanied it: anxiety, grief, guilt, fear, helplessness, depression. Sound familiar? We kept coming back to a couple of key questions: What can our anger tell us? And how can we turn it into something meaningful? Those are the questions we’ll be trying to answer all week. Our editorial package, All the Rage, dives deep into this often-taboo emotion, in all its complexity and messiness. (To be clear, this is an exploration of moral anger. We’re not publishing this package to justify the behavior of hot-headed folks who have taken to screaming at service workers just trying to do their jobs or the politicians who spew self-serving propaganda after narrowly losing an election.)For this collection of 10 articles, our writers and editors talked to 20+ experts about the science of anger. In these articules, you’ll find actionable, empathetic advice about how to turn your anger into action, no matter the circumstances. Here are three key themes to expect:Acknowledging your angerIn a forthcoming article about how therapists cope during fits of frustration, Jessi Gold, MD, says it best: “What I need is to just be angry, call it anger, and not judge myself for it.” When I let my anger get the best of me, I almost always feel ashamed once I start to cool down, but the experts SELF spoke with have reassuring things to say here: It’s okay to just feel it if you need to—ideally while you mentally or physically remove yourself from the rage-inducing situation and before you take it out on others.When you take the time to reflect on your anger, you have the opportunity to ask yourself what, exactly, is at the heart of it. Are you deeply sad about something? Do you feel overwhelmed? Is mounting stress catching up with you? Or are you just genuinely mad? Recognizing your anger for what it is can be a valuable step in figuring out what you need to move forward.Using madness as motivationWhatever’s triggering your anger, you can harness that explosive energy into something good, either for yourself or your community—ideally both. As psychologist Ryan Martin, PhD, author of Why We Get Mad: How to Use Your Anger for Positive Change, says in a forthcoming article about how anger can affect your health, “Anger alerts us to a potential injustice, and it energizes us to confront that injustice.” This could mean seeking therapy because you’re having a hard time keeping your anger under control, or this could look like engaging in activism so you can get involved with a cause you’re fiercely passionate about. If issues like climate change, gun violence, racial injustice, or lack of access to affordable, equitable health care infuriate you, for example, chances are there are other people who feel the same way and who are taking action. “Being in community is a way to navigate rage,” psychologist Cicely Horsham-Brathwaite, PhD, previously told SELF. “Rage is not just an individual experience; it is a communal, collective experience.” Taking care of yourselfLike all intense emotions, anger’s effects can go beyond your mind. Your physical body will feel the stress too, so it’s imperative to be gentle with yourself. When you can’t seem to get out of your head, do something—anything—that feels soothing. If you have a second to simply pay attention to your breath, do a mental body scan or go for a slow walk in a calming environment, you may be surprised to realize that you’re super hungry, exhausted from lack of sleep, or restless from spending too many hours at your desk.You can’t help yourself or be there for your community if you don’t practice self-care. That’s something my anxiety has taught me too. After my last panic attack, the rage eventually retreated (and, not to worry, I took it as my sign to find a new therapist). Now, when those uncomfortable feelings swell to the surface, I try to pay close attention to the anger in particular, because I know it’s trying to tell me something. Anger is a flashing signal that helps us survive—but only if we listen to it.You can read more content from All the Rage here. SELF will be publishing new articles about anger all week.

How to Cope If Family Gatherings Trigger Your Social Anxiety

How to Cope If Family Gatherings Trigger Your Social Anxiety

Thanksgiving is nearly here, and I’m starting to feel a bit jittery about all the awkward interactions I’m about to have with family members and long-lost acquaintances from high school. The small talk always seems to cover the same ground: work, relationships, politics, future plans—you know, all the touchy topics that get to the core of where you’re at in life. If the idea of seeing family or old friends overwhelms you or you experience social anxiety to any degree—whether you get jittery in social situations or have been diagnosed with social anxiety disorder—you probably know what I’m talking about. These feelings can manifest in many ways, but at its core, social anxiety stems from a dynamic fear or worry that you may be judged, watched, or embarrassed by others, per the National Institute of Mental Health. It can strike in the moments leading up to an event, in the middle of an interaction, or days later when you’re replaying certain moments in your head. From stressful small talk to deep discussions, the conversations that go down at holiday soirees can feel particularly intense; not to mention, they can act as a reminder that maybe you’re not exactly where you’d like to be at this stage in your life—or that you moved away from home for a reason. “It’s normal to feel like a broken record when you’re sharing the things you decide to disclose to family or friends,” Mandy Doria, MS, a licensed professional counselor and assistant professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, tells SELF.To help alleviate some of the stress and anxiety you may be feeling around all the social events on your schedule, it’s best to come up with a game plan. Below are three things you can do to prep for the scenarios that might make your palms sweaty and your heart rate spike.Think of some talking points—and keep comforting people close.Planning ahead can ease some worries, especially if you’re expecting to deal with a few uncomfortable interactions. Doria recommends brainstorming a few topics you actually want to talk about so you can easily dodge the stickier discussions you may be roped into.For example, if you already suspect your nosy aunt will ask about your recent breakup, come ready to pivot to another topic or have some backup questions handy. After all, it’s not too hard to get people to talk about themselves, especially if you use a bit of flattery. Consider a response like: “Oh, I appreciate you asking but it’s not all that interesting. I want to hear more about how the renovation is going. Do you have progress pics of your lovely kitchen? I’m dying to see it!”On the other hand, if your dad starts going on about how he wants you to move closer to home, you can try to put a positive spin on your response: “I guess that means you’ll need to visit me soon. Should we plan a weekend for us in 2023? I’d love to show you some of my favorite spots.” If it helps, consider rehearsing how you’d like to tackle these conversations to alleviate the pressure of being put on the spot. “Remember these annoyances are temporary and remain confident in what you decide to talk about or not talk about,” Doria says.

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

7 Tips to Try If Your Eczema Makes You Feel Self-Conscious

“Each time I attended a meeting, and it went well—or at least not badly—I unlearned something, and it turned out that I was unlearning my own thoughts about myself. As it often is, I was my own worst critic,” Ashbridge says. “People still booked meetings with me with or without makeup. I built my business when my eczema was at its worst. The reality was that no one was devaluing me or what I had to say because I had dry, cracked skin on my face. The negative thoughts were all coming from within.”5. Focus on what your body can do.For Doris Espejo, 40, who was diagnosed with eczema five years ago, living with the condition has been especially tough with her career as a nurse.“As nurses, we use our hands for everything, and the constant washing of hands and glove-wearing can aggravate flare-ups,” she tells SELF. “Also, if patients see them they sometimes think it’s something contagious, or will ask what it is.” The thought of making a patient feel uncomfortable or concerned about her cleanliness does a number on Espejo’s self-esteem.Focusing on self-care so she can feel her best overall—which ultimately gives eczema less power over her—has helped a lot. “Exercising has helped me overcome those feelings by focusing on what my body can do rather than its imperfections and just accepting it,” she says.6. Be patient with yourself.For Kira West, 29, who was diagnosed with eczema around age 10, coping with the skin condition as a teen and young adult was tough on her self-esteem. Figuring out what her triggers were, dressing in a way that made her legs comfortable, and, more importantly, recognizing that her flares were temporary, was crucial. She learned to manage her anxiety around flares by reminding herself that they would always pass.“That mental approach helped me to maintain my overall confidence even amidst a flare-up,” she tells SELF. “Flares are not who I am…Managing it and just giving it time and patience honestly helped a lot.”In addition to her doctor emphasizing how common eczema is, as well as having supportive parents, West found peace in realizing she’s not alone. She got to this point by doing online research and engaging in online forums, which helped her feel a lot better about her situation. “As an adult, [I know] no one is going to judge my value as a person on how my skin looks,” she says. “I had to really internalize that and realize it’s true.”7. Lean into positive self-talk.Yuma Haidara, 33, has dealt with eczema on her face and the rest of her body since she was in high school. Haidara covered her body breakouts with clothes, but the eczema on her face was harder to hide.“I hated it. I had so much hyperpigmentation. I kept constantly scratching these bumps on my face, and there was no way to cover it up,” she tells SELF. “Back then there weren’t even shades of foundation dark enough for my skin tone. I hated people looking at me and just knew they were thinking, ‘What’s wrong with her face?’”Haidara, who created her own skinc are products when she couldn’t find anything that worked, has found positive mantras and self-talk to be extremely effective. She keeps a list of 10 positive affirmations on the home screen of her phone, regularly changing them to keep them fresh and relative to where she is in life. Each day of the week has a different affirmation, such as “‘I accept myself unconditionally.’”“No matter the kind of day I’m having, when the affirmation pops up, I stop and repeat it to myself until I no longer feel uncomfortable with saying that statement out loud,” Haidara says. “The words we speak to ourselves are so powerful, even when some days or weeks are harder than others to accept. But over the years, even on my worst days, [they help me to] know I’m beautiful, worthy, and deserving with all my imperfections, eczema included.”Related:

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