When you're living with psoriatic disease, it's important add simple things to your routine that promote overall wellness.
Regular physical activity, combined with a healthy diet, can help you increase your energy, reach and maintain a healthy weight and reduce your risk of developing other chronic health conditions like obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
As a certified health coach and Patient Navigator at NPF’s Patient Navigation Center, I’m often asked about complementary and alternative techniques that, when used in addition to other treatments, may improve psoriatic disease symptoms and promote overall wellness.
Here are five health and wellness tips I encourage people to incorporate into their daily routines.
1. Find healthy ways to manage stress
Stress is a common trigger for psoriatic disease. Researchers know that stress can cause changes in both the immune system and in the body’s hormone levels.
When you are living with psoriatic disease, stress can cause your immune system to “over-respond,” leading to flares.
To best manage your disease, it is important to also manage your stress. Some healthy practices include exercise, yoga and meditation, which all promote feelings of positivity.
2. Get outside
When you are living with psoriatic disease, there are many reasons to get outdoors. Not only do movement and exercise improve your overall health, but research also shows that getting outside promotes positive mental health.
If you’re feeling stressed, being outside can improve psychological and spiritual development, increase mindfulness and promote a positive attitude.
You don’t need to be a fitness champion to find ways to get outdoors. Try taking a short walk or reading outside in your backyard or a public park. Eat lunch outside, or catch up with a friend in an outdoor space.
3. Give downward dog a chance
The jury is in: There are many benefits to adding yoga into your daily routine.
Yoga combines breathing, stretching and meditation to help control stress and improve blood flow to areas affected by psoriatic disease.
It can relax tight muscles, improve breathing and joint mobility and help develop muscle tone needed to support affected joints. It’s also shown to enhance your quality of sleep and improve your overall mood.
If you are new to yoga, try finding a local class, an instructional video, or contact our Patient Navigation Center for some tips.
If you have psoriatic arthritis, be sure to consult with your doctor first and make sure your teacher has experience working with people who are living with chronic pain.
4. Scale back on sugar
Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis are inflammatory diseases, and research has shown that increased sugar consumption can lead to inflammation.
To reduce this risk – and promote an overall healthy diet – limit the amount of processed sugars that you eat.
Processed sugars can be found in many white breads, desserts (including ice cream, cookies and cakes) and sweetened sodas. Replace these foods with whole grains, fruit and unsweetened drinks like water and club soda. Be sure to watch your portion sizes.
5. Practice gratitude
Research continues to show that expressing gratitude can improve your overall well-being.
To incorporate this into your daily routine, follow these easy steps: At the end of each day, write down three things that made you happy.
These could be activities you participated in, like going on a walk or watching a movie, a conversation you had, a food you ate – anything that brought you joy. Begin the next day by reflecting on these “gratitudes” to get your day started off right.
If you find that your psoriatic disease is impacting your “gratitudes,” consider modifications you can make to enjoy these activities again.
Ultimately, by adding one or all of these habits to your daily routine, you’ll be taking a holistic approach to living a healthy life with psoriatic disease.
Contact the Patient Navigation Center if you want to speak with someone about improving your health and living your best life with psoriatic disease.
Editor's note: Amy Kurtz recently left NPF's Patient Navigation Center. Her wellness tips, however, still ring true.
Driving discovery, creating community
For more than 50 years, we’ve been driving efforts to cure psoriatic disease and improve the lives of those affected. But there’s still plenty to do! Learn how you can help our advocacy team shape the laws and policies that affect people with psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis – in your state and across the country. Help us raise funds to support research by joining Team NPF, where you can walk, run, cycle, play bingo or create your own fundraising event. If you or someone you love needs free, personalized support for living a healthier life with psoriatic disease, contact our Patient Navigation Center. And keep the National Psoriasis Foundation going strong by making a donation today. Together, we will find a cure.