Pandemic Stress Upset My Psoriatic Arthritis Pain
Two months into the pandemic shutdown, my psoriatic arthritis pain levels flew off the chart! I was completely blindsided. Over the past few years, I have been very fortunate to have not suffered from many severe psoriatic arthritis flares. But as I looked over my daily pain journal, the cause became very clear.
I began keeping a daily pain journal back in 2012. It had and continues to help me figure out better ways to address pain. Journaling helps me recognize things including my increasing my pain and symptoms.
A few months before the pandemic shut my state down, I began experiencing an extreme flare from another one of my chronic conditions. The pain was so intense that it overshadowed my psoriatic arthritis pain. That is until my invisible psoriatic arthritis symptoms became very visible!
Painful symptoms, emotional stress
When my body is experiencing extreme amounts of physical and/or emotional stress, it shows in the form of psoriasis. Waking one morning, I discover my arms and thighs covered with plaques. This served as a wake-up call that something more was going on.
With the stress my body had been under due to my abdominal pain, I already had a few patches of psoriasis on my elbows. How quickly it spread was more than I have ever experienced. This gave me a sign of emotional stress.
Journaling can recognize stress
As I looked over my journal, I recognized a shift in my attitude soon after the shutdown began. It took me by surprise because I thought that I had been handling the situation quite well. My daily life really hadn't changed much. As an essential employee, my husband continued to go to work daily. I remained at home and homeschooled our daughter like I have done for 12 years.
Then I took a look at what had changed. My shopping habits had to change. For months I couldn't even rely on stores having what I wanted or needed. Grocery delivery services failed to meet my needs by always forgetting items or not having what I ordered in stock. Shopping in person became more physically challenging with having to wait in long lines to enter a store and even checkout.
Not knowing day to day or week to week, what we could or couldn't do was bothering me more than I had realized. The ugliness of social media had also become too much for me to take. I found myself taking more and longer social media breaks.
How to manage stress
Unless I wanted to be covered head to toe with psoriasis and suffer from increased joint pain, I had to do something about my stress level. The first thing I had to do was accept the uncertainty that the pandemic created. Secondly, I stopped worrying about what could happen and began focusing on what was happening at the moment.
The last thing I did to lower my stress was to stop feeling guilty for taking social media breaks. Extended breaks have reminded me of how much better life was not knowing everybody's thoughts.
How do you manage stress?
With my home state being one of the last stuck in phase one of their shutdown, life is still stressful. However, my mind and body are no longer reacting in an unhealthy manner. Outside of a few extremely painful abdominal flare-ups, my psoriasis and PsA pain has returned to the lower level that I have gotten used to.
Did you notice an increase of pain or psoriasis since the pandemic began? In what ways has COVID19 made your life more difficult?
Do you have a sleep disorder (eg. insomnia, sleep apnea, RLS) in addition to your PsA?