Skin Conditions and Mental Health.
The Impact of Skin Conditions on Our Mind.
Thought Distortions and Types.
Breaking Your Thought Distortions.
Confidence and Self-Esteem Formation.
Boosting Confidence with Positive Self-Talk.
Understanding and Overcoming Anxious Thoughts.
Relationships and How to Improve Them.
Skincare Behavioural Therapy.
Introduction - Skin Conditions and Mental Health
Living with a skin condition, be it eczema, psoriasis, acne, or any other, can pose significant challenges, both physically and psychologically. The mental health impact of these conditions often goes under the radar, yet it's critical to address this aspect to improve one's holistic well-being. In this blog post, we delve into the correlation between skin conditions and mental health, offering resources and tips for managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns related to skin disorders. Apps like Proton Health provide mindfulness sessions and tailored stress and anxiety coping techniques, designed specifically for individuals living with various skin conditions.
The Impact of Skin Conditions on Our Mind
Skin conditions, no matter what type, can have a profound influence on our mental state. Visible symptoms and persistent discomfort from conditions like eczema, psoriasis, acne, or others, can significantly affect how we perceive ourselves and how we believe others perceive us. This can lead to heightened self-consciousness and even negative self-image.
In addition, the physical symptoms of these conditions can also lead to a constant state of stress or worry. Individuals often find themselves in a cycle of anxiety, constantly anticipating the next flare-up or worrying about managing symptoms effectively. This constant worry can take a significant toll on mental health and overall quality of life.
Furthermore, the disruption to daily life caused by these conditions can also contribute to feelings of frustration or hopelessness. Everyday activities such as socialising or even sleeping can become challenges. For some, the need to avoid certain activities or environments for fear of aggravating their condition can also lead to feelings of isolation.
Neuroplasticity - Our Brains Hidden Power
Despite these challenges, the power of the mind should not be underestimated. Through processes such as neuroplasticity - the brain's remarkable ability to reorganise itself by forming new neural connections - individuals can learn to manage their thoughts and emotions effectively. This can help reduce the psychological impact of skin conditions and improve overall wellbeing.
Skin Conditions and Mental Health - A Comprehensive Guide
To support your mental health while living with a skin condition, we've created the following comprehensive guide. We'll focus on various emotions and challenges associated with the condition and end with one of our world leading behavioural therapy sessions to help you overcome these feelings. We'll cover Thought Distortions, Confidence, Anxiety and Relationships and how you can use the power of Neuro-plasticity to overcome these negative states and their associated emotions.
Thought Distortions - What Are They?
In coping with skin conditions, the battle often goes beyond physical symptoms. What we tell ourselves and how we think can have a tangible impact on our overall wellbeing and management of the condition. It's essential, therefore, to become aware of and address negative thought patterns, or what we refer to as 'thought distortions'.
Thought distortions are essentially negative thought patterns that aren't true. Instead, they are our mind's deceptive ways of portraying our situation, causing undue stress, anxiety, or low self-esteem. Let's delve into some examples:
Suppose you ever found yourself thinking, "I'll never conquer my skin condition," or "When my skin is acting up, everyone is looking at me," or "People will find me strange if I apply skin treatments in public." These are classic examples of thought distortions.
Even though they might feel very real in the moment, these thoughts are not an accurate reflection of reality but rather deceptive tricks our minds play on us. These thought distortions can significantly affect our quality of life and our relationship with our skin condition if we allow them to persist.
Thought Distortions - The Different Types
Here are some specific types of thought distortions that you might encounter:
All-or-nothing thinking: This is when you perceive situations in extreme, absolute terms, like "I'll never manage my skin condition." Reality, however, usually resides somewhere in the middle.
Mind reading: This involves predicting what others think about you, often in a negative light. An example might be, "Everyone is disgusted by my skin." Most times, people are preoccupied with their own concerns.
Unhelpful rules: These are self-imposed rules that limit progress, such as "I didn't follow my skincare routine this morning, so there's no point doing it for the rest of the day."
Justification: This occurs when you link two unrelated ideas to justify an action or lack thereof. For example, "I won't exercise today because my skin is flaring up," even though exercise could help improve your skin condition.
Delusional thinking: This involves convincing yourself of something you know is false to make yourself feel better. "Eating this chocolate won't affect my skin," even though you know it triggers your symptoms.
Exaggerated thinking: This involves magnifying events or traits, often negatively. You might think, "Everyone is staring at my skin," when, in fact, most people are too wrapped up in their own thoughts.
Most people experience these thought distortions at some point, but if these negative thoughts become pervasive, they can lead to significant distress and impede progress in managing skin conditions.
The first step to combat these thought distortions is recognition. Start noting which of these distortions you frequently fall into. Then, whenever you notice these distortions creeping in, take a moment to pause and remind yourself, "This is a thought distortion. It's not reality." This helps the brain distinguish between distortion and reality, a crucial step in adopting a healthier, more positive mindset for managing skin conditions.
Breaking Your Thought Distortions
There's a powerful technique that you can use once you've recognised your thought distortion. It's designed to help you put this negative thought into perspective by comparing reasons why it might be true and also creating reasons as to why it's false.
Spoiler alert: these thought distortions are not accurate, and we aim to convince your brain of that fact!
Here's the process in full:
Firstly, pen down the thought distortion you identified. For instance, if you tend to exhibit all-or-nothing thinking, your distorted thought might be "I'll never be able to manage my skin condition."
Next, let's explore the reasons that might seem to validate this thought. These could be thoughts like "I struggle to manage my skin condition," "I frequently experience flare-ups," or "My treatments don't seem to be effective."
Now here's the powerful bit, you want to come up with reasons why this thought is actually false. Your reasons might include things like "There are scientifically validated methods to manage my skin condition," "Most days, my skin is calm and manageable," or "I've seen improvements in my skin over time."
After completing this activity you'll likely find that this thought distortion is likely nonsense. So it's time to replace this flawed thought with a new, more positive affirmation.
The final step in the process is to create an affirmation to tell yourself whenever this negative thought appears. If your distortion was "I'll never be able to manage my skin condition," your new thought could be "I will manage my skin condition because I have seen improvements and I'm taking proactive steps to control it."
How Confidence and Self-Esteem Is Formed
Ever wondered why some people always seem so confident? A big part of it comes down to how they talk to themselves when they're alone. This is called 'self-talk'.
Some people talk themselves up, while others are really hard on themselves. This voice in your head is your 'internal critic'. And how harsh or nice this voice is can greatly impact your confidence.
People with skin conditions, like eczema, can often have a harsh self-critic. This sometimes comes from comments made by others at home, school, or work.
Sadly, our brain tends to pick up and repeat these comments. Over time, we start to believe they're true. This can make us feel bad about ourselves and knock our confidence.
For example, let's say a teacher at school once told you that you're bad at maths. The next time you find a maths problem difficult, your brain might remind you of that comment, even if nobody has said anything this time. You start to believe you can't do it, so you give up. Then the same thing happens the next time you face a tough maths problem. Eventually, you end up struggling with maths because of a comment someone else made and you believed was true.
Scientists have done studies that show students do better at school when teachers praise them more. It's mind-blowing stuff!
Boosting Confidence with Positive Self-Talk
Understanding your confidence level is the first step to change this process. Take a moment and think about how you rate your self-critic. Is it really mean (0) or is it more like a cheerleader (10)?
Next, think about a time someone said something negative to you. This can be hard, but it's an important step. It helps you understand that these comments aren't true. We can then work on coming up with a better, more positive thing to tell yourself.
For example, you might remember a time when your boss told you that you're bad at your job. The next time this thought pops up in your mind, you can tell yourself it's just your internal critic being mean. Recognising this is a big part of learning how to be nicer to yourself.
Remember, how confident you feel comes down to how you talk to yourself. The kinder your self-talk, the more confident you'll feel. So next time that negative thought creeps in, remind yourself it's just your internal critic. Recognising when you're being too harsh on yourself is a big step towards boosting your confidence.
The Source Of Anxious Thoughts
Studies have shown that our sense of happiness can be improved by managing things within our control. These fall into three categories: the past, the present, and the future.
Our thoughts, completely under our control, can sometimes wander into the past or the future. This is where things can get tricky. Negative thinking about past events or worrying about the future can chip away at our happiness. Because when we do this, we're actually giving up control. And that's the exact opposite of what we want to do for our happiness.
In fact, giving up this control is a main reason people feel anxious. You've probably heard the saying "anxiety is the dizziness of freedom". What this means is that anxious thoughts suggest we have time to think. That usually means there's nothing pressing in the present to worry about.
However, our mind has time to wander and often ends up thinking about past worries or future concerns. Both of these can hinder our happiness.
Overcoming Anxious Thoughts
So, let's go through a technique to help break these thoughts when they come up.
This technique has three steps:
Write down the negative thought that's making you feel anxious.
Then jot down reasons why this thought isn't accurate or helpful.
Lastly, rephrase the statement using positive language instead of negative.
Now, let's try this out...
First, write down an anxious thought that you often have:
For example: "I'm going to fail my exam"
Next, write down reasons why this isn't true or helpful:
For example: "I've studied hard, and thinking negatively could actually make me perform worse."
Finally, rewrite this thought using positive language:
For example: "I've prepared well, and I'm going to do great on this exam."
Doesn't that feel much better? This reframe and repetition of positive statements can help you tackle anxious thoughts. Try this technique the next time you catch your mind drifting into anxious territory.
Relationships and How to Boost Them
In life, much like plants, our relationships need to be regularly tended to flourish. This might be a bit more challenging when dealing with conditions like eczema, which can cause moments of stress and worry due to sudden flare-ups. But fear not, we're here with some handy advice to help you boost your bonds with friends and family.
Open and honest conversations lay the groundwork for any strong relationship. When you're living with eczema, there might be times when you need some extra support or understanding from those around you. Don't be afraid to voice your needs - it can help build trust and bring you closer.
We all appreciate our friends, but sometimes we forget to show it. Try to make a habit of letting your friends know how much you value them. A simple thank you or compliment can go a long way in making both you and your friend feel great.
Listen, Really Listen
Sometimes, disagreements can pop up in the best of friendships. When they do, make sure you're really listening to your friend's point of view. This is called mindful listening. You focus all your attention on understanding what your friend is saying.
When expressing negative feelings, it's helpful to use 'I' statements. This way, you're sharing your emotions without pointing fingers. This approach helps to build an understanding and teamwork-oriented mindset, which is super helpful in the long run.
Keep Being You
Keep up with your hobbies and interests outside of your friendships. They're a part of who you are and can also give a boost to your relationships. Plus, you never know, your friends might want to join in too!
Reflect and Learn
Keep practicing these tips and take a moment every so often to think about how your friendships are doing. This will help ensure your relationships keep growing stronger.
Skincare Behavioural Therapy And How It Helps
At Proton Health, we know the struggles of living with a skin condition and how it can affect our emotions. In this blog, we've covered various aspects including Thought Distortions, Confidence, Anxious Thoughts and Relationships. But we all know that skin conditions impact every aspect of our lives, from Sleep, to causing Stress to Focus, it really is more than skin deep.
That's why we've pioneered the Skincare Behavioural Therapy programme. This unique therapy combines relaxation techniques and mindfulness sessions that aim to address and enhance the emotional well-being associated with skin conditions.
By focusing on your mind's response to your condition, our programme helps in managing not only the physical aspects but also the emotional impact. And guess what? We're inviting you to try out your first session below 👇
Living with skin conditions often has significant physical and psychological challenges, impacting one's mental health.
Recognising and managing thought distortions, adopting positive self-talk, and understanding our brain's neuroplasticity can help alleviate the mental toll.
Confidence can be built by changing our internal critic, helping individuals with skin conditions feel better about themselves.
Skincare behavioural therapy, available in the Proton Health app, can aid individuals in managing their skin conditions more effectively.