Have you written any New Year’s resolutions yet this year? i.e. Get cured of allergies, eradicate eczema, heal from topical steroid withdrawal, eat out more without fear, world peace, get fit, write that book…
Do you struggle to keep to them?
Why not explore the idea of continually viewing life as a chance to be thankful for what you already have.
It doesn’t have to always be a struggle and a drive for change, to be better and to improve. Don’t just write a list, put it away and discover the following year that you didn’t really achieve any of them.
It might sound like a stupid idea, but particularly if you have some health struggles or mental health challenges, like recurring negative thoughts or anxiety. I myself have been learning how to cope with panic attacks, anxiety and that nasty negative internal voice.
Every time you have a negative thought, replace it with a good one. Something you are proud of, something good that happened and something kind about yourself.
Positives of having life threatening allergies
This year aim to discover and explore food and life avoiding certain allergens, turn things upside down and look at food in a totally new way; explore all the foods you CAN eat and celebrate them. Focus on the wonderful things you CAN do that don’t involve food. Find all those myriad positives. They’re out there. If you didn’t have allergies you may well be grabbing unhealthy snacks, eating fast-food or dining out with friends with little thought for the consequences. Whilst it may seem hard having to always remain vigilant, making the healthy choice will have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.
Something you could try this year is to really focus on all the positive things that happen in your life.
If you write regularly then why not start or end the day by recapping all the inspiring things that happened.
It could be anything, from an amazing new freefrom product you found in the supermarket to getting great service in a local cafe. It could also be something totally unrelated to your allergies or food sensitivities – don’t let them define you.
It could even be the joyful sunrise you saw on your way to work. You have allergies but they shouldn’t rule your life in a negative way.
The idea is to write something positive on a piece of paper and pop it into the jam jar each day. Then at the end of the year when it’s time to think about New Year’s Resolutions again, read all the things that happened and it should help you find a more positive outlook on living with allergies, food intolerances or whatever challenge you are struggling to find positivity about. Instead of feeling angry, why me? and constantly bemoaning that everything contains nuts etc. It doesn’t. There are be hundreds and hundreds of foods; fruit, vegetables, meat, fish etc. are all totally nut free. You CAN eat so many things so get out there and eat them.
So are they really a gift? I’m probably stretching even my positive outlook on this one, but ignore the negative voice in your head that’s crazy mad about the injustice of your particular allergy or eczema and think about what’s good in your life. For instance…
- It keeps you slim – You can’t indulge in puddings or snack on biscuits at meetings etc. For me anyway, I’m pretty sure I’d be much heavier than I am because I’m lazy and used to eat pretty much whatever I wanted, I even used to like aeroplane food! Some FreeFrom food choices can actually be very calorific though, just as any processed foods can be so the opposite can be true – you could put weight on if you rely solely on freefrom supermarket foods.
- You have to understand the food you eat – There are hidden preservatives, bulking agents, fillers etc. which the powers that be have decided are good for our health. But what is the long term effect of consuming these unnatural man made fake food stuffs? Being a serial label checker can be a pain but you will gain a much better understanding for the sheer number of unnecessary ingredients found in some foods. This will have a huge impact on your general health – in a good way. Not only will it hopefully help skin health but also consider the long term effect of consuming unnatural fillers, bulkers, emulsifiers and just generally junk. Our bodies don’t need that and can’t process it like they can with real food.
- Freefrom food choice is rising – Every year the array of Freefrom foods in supermarkets and health food stores is growing. Consider though that freefrom is not always healthier – read labels, understand exactly what you’re eating and analyse the salt, fat and calorie content. Become a follower of the Freefrom Food awards so you can find out who the new freefrom companies are and discover new amazing products. The ultimate freefrom diet would be to only eat fresh food for a whole week, why not take the go-processed-food-free challenge for a week and see how you feel?
- Learn to cook – Before food came to bite me I was a terrible cook. My mum did teach me to boil potatoes, get peas out of the freezer and put them in a pan and how to cook fish that came in a nice sanitised square, but that is pretty much as far as my culinary skills extended (sorry Mum, I should have listened more). Why cook when you can buy ready meals? Or so I thought. Having allergies has forced me, kicking and screaming, to pick up the allergy cookery books and learn. There have been disasters but I’ve discovered something I now love to do, experimenting with new ingredients and flavours, trying out new recipes and actually, the results have been pretty good, especially the cakes and biscuits.
Finding positives in eczema and topical steroid withdrawal
This one is much harder to get your head around because when it’s bad it can and does effect most aspects of your life, and often in a negative, painful, exhausting and isolating way. But here goes:
- It teaches you to listen to your skin – You might envy the people who can do, eat and put anything on their skin and seem to still have an amazing smooth complexion. But what if they can’t hear the messages their body might be trying to tell them? What if you are getting warning signals, through your skin, that if you can tune into them can teach you the best, most healthy way to fuel and heal your body and skin.
- You will learn a deeper understanding of your own Mental health – If you are taken to a really dark place, to rock bottom with what seems like everything taken away, you have to dig deep to keep going. You are beautiful and special and brilliant and you are worthy of all the love. But knowing that can be hard to learn. Having the bad luck to be going through topical steroid withdrawal has taught me so much about myself and given me a deep and incredible understanding of who I am, what I need and why it’s so important. If you struggle with anxiety, depression and other mental health conditions, there could be a direct link to your skin condition. I know anxiety directly affects my skin. Make it a goal to get the help you need, for you, and for your skin.
- If you let it, you can learn to Love yourself and your skin – A huge lesson for me because I actually didn’t love myself at all when I started trying to get my hear around this. I couldn’t even say the words to a mirror. And when I first began to tentatively say them, it would make me weep. Now I can high five myself in the mirror because I can see now what a beautiful, kind, wonderful human I am. Despite what my skin might be going through, I am lovable and I love and actually really quite like myself now. You guys are so lucky to have me around 😉
- It’s that push to clean your diet – Get to know what foods are good for reducing inflammation, eat lots of fruit and vegetables, and avoid things that won’t be good for your skin. For me I also have allergies but not everyone does. However there are lot of foods that can irritate skin. Check the Itchy Dozen.
- Clean your skin care regime – look at ingredients on your skincare products and only put stuff on your skin that you would eat. Your skin absorbs quite a lot of what you apply onto it. TSW is a lesson in that and the damage that can be done.
- Clean your house – Work on eradicating all the allergens and potential pollutants in your house. I want to produce a free guide to doing this in 2022 but in the meantime, you can get started. Think about everything you bring into your house, from cleaning products to candles – most of them contain harmful ingredients so make healthy choices e.g. Beeswax or soy candles instead or get an oil diffuser. Ditch the plug in fragrance things and get natural. Start thinking about how reduce dust, allergens, mould, etc.
Focus on the positive experiences you have this year and I promise you will feel differently about your health. Having an atopic body is the incentive to do better for yoursef and the environment, bit by bit to make a difference.
Avoidance is currently the only solution for people with allergies but until scientists find the holy grail of a cure we have to muddle through.
Be prepared and organised, smile and continue to spread awareness simply and calmly about what it’s really like living with allergies. We still have a long way to go as there are still huge misunderstandings and myths around allergies but together we can make a difference.
And if you are going through topical steroid withdrawal, you are not alone. I am right here with you, oozing, flaking and itching my way to skin freedom. It takes time but we will get there. It’s not fair, but we can fight this and raise awareness everywhere so that others don’t have to go through what we have.
So have you written any New Year’s Resolutions yet? Are any of them allergy related? Skin related?
Check out Why I’m not writing any resolutions for 2022 and please share your thoughts below.