Meditation And Eczema: 5 Top Tips 2022

 

Eczema - at its best an itchy annoyance that flares up on occasion. At its worst, an all encompassing disease that has many emotional impacts beyond the mere physical symptoms. 

Basically, it sucks. 

Anxiety, depression, low self esteem, are all unseen elements of eczema that make dealing with it entirely more difficult and frustrating. 

And what’s worse, it can often be exacerbated by stress. Have you ever noticed that when work gets just a little too busy, or the kids just a little too noisy, that flare ups appear as if by magic? 

Well in fact there’s a proven link between the two. When you’re stressed, the body reacts by causing a spike in the hormone cortisol, that in turn can lead to an inflammatory response in the skin. 

The result? A nasty flare up that keeps you awake all night scratching. Exactly not what the doctor ordered. 

So what can we do? We know that minimising stress would be great not just for our skin, but also our life, yet it’s still difficult sometimes to take actionable steps to help us do this. 

Enter...meditation!

You’ve probably heard of it, right? But might still be wondering how it can actually help when you’re feeling stressed, or even how to get started. We get it, and hope the following can act as a friendly nudge to help you take the first step. 

In this article you’ll find: 

1) What is meditation?

2) What is mindfulness?

3) How it helps to relieve stress

4) Can it be a tool to control itching?

5) 5 top tips for getting started 

Let’s get to it! 

So, what is meditation?

Meditation is a group of techniques that encourages a heightened state of awareness and focused attention. 

An aged-old mind and body practice that has many touted benefits, from lowering blood pressure to helping with depression and anxiety. 

Overall, it aims to help the practitioner achieve a calm, stable and mentally clear state where they are more present and open to the current moment. 

There are many different types, however the main ones include: 

- Concentrative meditation - where you focus all your thought and energy onto a specific thing whilst tuning out unwanted distractions.

- Mindfulness meditation - that involves trying to be aware and accepting of the present moment.

What is mindfulness? 

Mindfulness is the human ability to be fully present. To be aware of ourselves and our surroundings and not become overwhelmed. 

When you bring awareness to your body via your senses, or to your mind via your inner thoughts and emotions, this is being mindful. 

It can be very easy in life to stop noticing what is happening around you. To stop appreciating all of the wonderful things you have to be grateful for. Mindfulness can help you reconnect with this and see the present moment more clearly. 

How can all this help to relieve stress? 

When you meditate, you carve out a portion of the day, however small, just for you. 

It’s a time to reconnect with how you’re feeling and focus your attention on processing the emotions or thoughts of that day. 

In doing this, it can bring about a sense of calm and peacefulness and help to un-jumble any unprocessed feelings you might be experiencing.

This in turn can result in a reduction in your stress levels, as well as maybe a new positive perspective on a situation that has been troubling you. It can also help dissipate negative emotions and give space for increased patience, tolerance and positivity. 

If you’re yet to take your first step into meditation, we know the benefits can seem maybe a little too good to be true. But ask yourself, when was the last time you truly took time just for you? 

Self care is crucial in maintaining a healthy, positive mindset and meditation is merely another tool to help you effectively take care of your own emotional well being. 

Can meditation control itching? 

Now, this is an interesting one. 

As we mentioned at the beginning, stress is often a trigger for flare-ups and no doubt plays into the itch-scratch cycle that plagues so many sufferers. 

So if that’s the case, and mediation can help to relieve stress...see where we’re going here? 

Of course if you’re suffering from a mega flare up and your skin is out of control itchy, then sitting down and focusing your mind for 30 minutes might not necessarily help. But if you integrate mediation into your daily life and use it as a tool to remain less stressed, it might help as a preventative measure before that crazy itchy skin ever appears. 

There was also a pilot study done at Emory University that tested the efficacy of meditation as a treatment for chronic itch. 

Overall the study found that by the end mediation had helped the participants feel more in control of their skin, as well as significantly improving their overall quality of life. 

Surely then, it might be worth a go? 

5 top tips to get started

The following is a simple introductory practice you can follow to help get you started with meditation: 

1) Choose a quiet spot free from excessive noise or distractions. Remember to put your phone on silent mode and ask friends or family not to disturb you.

2) Set a time limit for the practice. If you download an app like Headspace or Insight Timer these will come with built in timers you can follow.

3) Cross your legs comfortably, find a nice cushion to sit on (ideally on the floor) and straighten your back whilst softening your gaze.

4) Close your eyes and begin to notice your breath, whilst gently focusing as you follow each inhale and exhale.

5) Notice when your mind wanders from your breath, catch it, and slowly bring your attention back to the present in a kind and loving manner. Don’t judge yourself if after two breaths your mind is already racing off somewhere else, this is completely normal. 

After you settle into that flow, feel welcome to sit for however long feels comfortable. The more you do it, the more you will feel at ease observing your breath and the repetitive thoughts that appear in your mind. 

When finished, gently lift your gaze and go about your day with hopefully a new found sense of calm and perspective. 

Final thoughts

So, what do you think? 

We totally appreciate the barrier to entry with meditation can seem high. But honestly? It really isn’t. 

Don’t think too much about if you’re doing the right technique, or sitting properly, or have the right music on. 

Just find 10 minutes for yourself. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. And administer some much needed self care that we’re sure can help not just with your mental state, but hopefully your eczema too. 

Give us a shout on Twitter and let us know how you get on :)

With care, 

The yan-yee team

Sources: 

- Xu J, Vik A, Groote IR, et al. (2014). Nondirective meditation activates default mode network and areas associated with memory retrieval and emotional processing. Link

- Meditation: In depth. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. (2017). Link

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