The Skin(ny) of Stress on your Body

I’ve been really in tune with my body for the past couple of years, however, once my eczema flares surged back up, I’ve morphed into an even bigger health freak. The last time my skin has been this “bad” was when I was first diagnosed with eczema around 8y old. So my skin has been a constant no to low-flare-status for over 10 years. Not only was I eating tons of fruits and vegetables, working out, doing all the right things, but I always thought in the back of my head, wow I can’t believe my skin is STILL doing great after all of this time. Fast forward to June 22nd of last year – I know this date specifically because that was the first day of my new job.  Although I woke up excited to begin a new chapter in my life, I also woke up with a feeling I haven’t felt in a long time – itchiness.

I looked down and saw a ton of white and red bumps on the top of my legs which itched like crazy. Thinking that this was a one time flare up, I put some topical medicine on and continued on with my day. However, a month later when the itchiness prevailed, I knew something was wrong. After seeing two different dermatologists, given strong steroid creams, and still no improvement, my mood and confidence began to slip. By September, my now HUSBAND and I got engaged in San Diego, however, below the happiness and bliss, I was incredibly self-conscious of my skin.  I’m sure any girl can relate – even if something is “off” about your complexion or body, it makes you grumpy beyond belief. To add to my poor mood, I had blown so much money on different skin care lines, lotions, and medications over the past year that it felt like my efforts had been worthless. I then had a major palm-to-the-face moment, it has to be something I’m eating or not eating enough of.

But WTF could it possibly be? I live an 85 clean/15 not-clean diet, workout 6x a week, and aware of what I’m allergic too.  It took me almost 9 months to find a similarity, but I finally found one, Vitamin D deficiency. It hit me while I was tanning for my wedding (yes, I know tanning is bad). I kind of noticed the itchiness was being maintained as long as I kept up with lotioning. I was definitely still itchy, but it wasn’t unbearable. Also, looking at foods that are high in Vitamin D and knowing I rarely consume any of those lit a giant light bulb in my head. I decided to give the doctor’s office one last shot, but I instead went to a Holistic Center to see if the problem is indeed from within. However, the doctor’s response totally blindsided me: he believes that my bumps are not eczema, but are instead tiny chronic hives caused by stress/ possible new food insensitivities.

Even as I write this, it’s still hard for me to believe that these itchy mofo’s are caused from stress- when I don’t feel stressed. But, this also gives me a chance to re-learn about my body. Although I don’t like to show it, those who are close to me know that I am an extremely sensitive person – and what I’ve learned from the doctor is that my body is a direct reflection of that. For example, it reacts quickly to things, even if it’s good, when I don’t speak my mind, I turn red, and when I’m super stressed, I get regular migraines. My body is a canvas showcasing my stress.

We are running a few more tests to see if something else is going on, but I know it’s up to me to try and calm down my mind and body. Now that I’m moving into a different stage of my life, my body is still changing; and before any new Wilson’s are created, I need to understand what my body can and cannot handle. We all have something we don’t like or is annoying about our bodies, but in the end, it’s up to us to figure out to translate the code our bodies produce for us.

Here are some tips I thought of that I will be trying over the next few months to help reduce the stress and possibly make my skin clear again:

  1. Finding at least 10 minutes out of the day to RELAX: Mine currently is watching t.v., but I’m going to try and make more of an effort to find a yoga class (that’s not booked on classpass).
  2. If you don’t like something, say it: I’m a person that holds in most of her feelings – because I hate confrontation or offending someone. But then, that leads to me venting to my husband later on ….and holding grudges. For that period of time, that stress-poison is bottled up and stuck inside. Although it may not be perceived well, I’m going to work on saying how I feel in the moment and practice being more open minded.
  3. Change to your diet for a month: I definitely don’t want to give up any more food, but once my test comes back in a few weeks, I’ll need to shift my diet to avoid foods I’m sensitive too. Some foods my doctor recommended to me are: dairy, wheat, soy, nuts, and salt. One I finish my butter (that I put in my bulletproof coffee each morning), I’m going to try to go without dairy for a month. Beware of breads and desserts at restaurants FYI – most use eggs and or milk.
  4. Sleep: Although I usually get 6 hours of sleep on a  good night, sleep definitely helps your body repair from the day and reboots itself. I already head to bed around 9:45pm each night, but I can’t usually fall asleep until almost 11 p.m. The trick will be tuning out my thoughts and the “noise,” which will probably be my biggest obstacle.
  5. Say NO to something: This is something I’m not familiar with at all. Being a person who measures her productivity by how many things she’s done a day, I find myself always saying yes. Although my mind loves to be busy, clearly by body cannot keep up.

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