Hidradenitis Suppurativa (HS) is more than a skin disease. I don’t need to tell you the ways it can affect your body. But it can be equally devastating on your mental health. You may learn to treat your physical symptoms. But, it’s equally important to learn how to manage your emotional wellbeing too.
Mind and body are partners in your life, neither more important than the other. But in chronic illness, mental health can be overlooked. As always, HidraWear is here to help. Here are our tips for managing your mental health with HS.
Take good care of yourself
Sometimes when you are ill, it can be hard to feel motivated. You are tired, and you may not feel like cooking or showering. But you must do. Not looking after yourself is like borrowing from the future.
Now it feels like it’s not worth making that meal from scratch. Later though, you will just feel more fatigued. So, make sure you are giving your body what it needs to be active.
Rest when you need to. Make sure you are getting enough sleep. And don’t overwork yourself. Make room in your day for self-care. Otherwise, you will stress yourself out, which can exacerbate your HS.
Do activities you enjoy
This is a tough one. HS can cause mobility issues. You may not be able to move in certain ways when you have a flare-up. Exercise, like walking and yoga, can be challenging. But if you enjoy an activity, you need to do it, even if it’s a modified version. Activities you enjoy are good for your mental health. They take your mind off your troubles. And exercise produces happy chemicals that improve your mood.
Think about those things you have stopped doing because of HS. Make a list. Then try to figure out if you can change how you do each one. So, if you want to attend an exercise class but you are worried about leaks, try an online class. Many fitness influencers do 30-day challenges where people all over the world participate. There are usually online discussions and sometimes groups. Why not join and make new friends?
Lean on your Support System
Your support system is all the people in your life who will help you. For your physical symptoms, your support person is your doctor. You must talk to your doctor so they can give you the best treatment possible.
For your emotional health, you may choose to see a therapist. You may also talk to a friend or family member. But if you don’t feel comfortable talking to someone you know or a professional, try a support group.
Support groups are people who also have HS. They are a great way of getting support because everyone knows what you are going through. And you too can provide support which is rewarding in its own way. As well as that you can learn a lot about your condition from others living with HS.
HidraWear have a Facebook support group you can join here.
Diet & Exercise
For lots of people, diet and exercise feel like a chore. They are two things you have to do regardless of whether you want to. This is because if you are not meeting your basic needs, then your body won’t be happy. And if your body is unhappy, so will your mind be too.
But I think they get a bad rap. Which is good news because they are rather essential. The key for me is to make it fun. Aim to try new recipes. Choose ones that meet your nutritional needs and taste good. Or have themed nights with a meal from a different part of the world or different occasions.
The same goes for exercise. Try new workouts. There are so many. You could go walking some days and have Pilates in-between. Challenge yourself but listen to your body and don’t overwork it. Find a workout that makes you happy, and it won’t feel like a chore.
Relax & Restore
Lots of people find mediation to be helpful. It can be a scheduled few moments of calm. Or an activity you can do anytime you are stressed. Stress is not always motivating, and sometimes it is bad for your HS. Being able to stop what you are doing and relax is essential to your mental health.
I am the sort of person who finds it difficult to sit still. So, for me, yoga is preferable to meditation. Like mediation, it is relaxing. Also, it is a form of exercise. But I think the best part about it if you have HS is that it’s accessible.
Yoga can be adapted for all body types, mobility issues and well as skill levels. If you find it difficult to get to a class, you can take one online. Mind yourself, though. yoga is about form, and if you are not careful, you can injure yourself.
HidraWear have a yoga series specially designed for those with HS. You can check it out here.
It’s Okay to Not be Okay
We all hear that it’s okay to not be okay. That is 100% true. Everyone gets stressed. And everyone needs help sometimes. But for me, that’s the missing bit of the saying. Where do you get help? And what can you do to truly feel better?
I hope this article has given you some ideas. HS is tough on your body. But equally so on your mind. Look after yourself. You are worth it.
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About the Author
Shannon Sweeney is MA student in Community Research & Journalism from Ireland. She is also living with HS and has a keen interest in lifestyle, wellbeing and hidradenitis suppurativa.