woman on a bike

People with Psoriasis Share Their Secrets to Self-Confidence

By Lauren Krouse
July 12, 2021

Sheila Warner, a 30-year-old certified nursing assistant in Bangor, Maine, says she was teased as a teenager about her psoriasis and still gets looks and questions like, “Is it contagious?” as an adult. “It’s hard to love yourself with so much negative attention on your skin,” she says.

Although these experiences can feel isolating, Sheila is far from alone. Symptoms of psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis often bring with them stress and dips in self-esteem and body image. Flare-ups, chronic pain, and mobility changes can also make it harder to show up for favorite activities that serve as a source of strength, personal identity, and social connection. As a result, it’s not uncommon to struggle with a vicious cycle of worsening symptoms that spin off stress, anxiety, and depression.

It’s normal and okay to feel deflated or frustrated with life-disrupting symptoms from time to time. But shifting your mindset and finding new ways to build yourself up can also be deeply empowering. Here are some strategies people living with psoriasis and/or psoriatic arthritis use to increase their self-confidence and feel good in their own skin.

1. Setting and Reaching New Goals

“My confidence booster has been being able to push past a little pain to continue doing what I love,” says Lisa Baynes, 48, an avid cyclist and runner who has psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis and is based in Union Point, Georgia. “Some days, I may have to do a different kind of bike ride, a slower, easier one, and being okay with that is important. But just knowing I can do that is a big boost to my overall well‑being.”

She says adjusting her goals to be more attainable—such as aiming to set a new personal record for a 10K run rather than an exhausting half-marathon—allows her to get a mood boost from exercise and achievement while staying as mobile as possible.

2. Practicing Aerial Yoga

Of all things, Sheila says aerial yoga has helped her love her body the most while also raising awareness of her own strength. Even better, it’s also a helpful stress reliever. “The way my body moves still amazes me,” she says. “I feel so like myself up in the silk, and when I land a new move, I feel like I’ve conquered the world.”

3. Shopping for New Threads

“Finding clothes that are comfortable but stylish always helps boost my confidence,” says Aishah Iqbal, M.D., a 29-year-old pediatric doctor currently on maternity leave in Leicester, UK. “In the past, it seemed like I couldn’t wear anything nice because of my skin, but now I have a collection of prepared outfits.” Aishah says just a new pair of joggers or nice cotton dress made with nonirritating fabrics can help her feel good in her body.

4. Getting a Faux Glow

Niamh Jordan, 28, a Dublin-based freelance writer living with psoriasis, says summer is the hardest time to keep her confidence up, since it’s when she shows the most skin. But Sally Hansen Airbrush Legs Light Glow Leg Makeup is her secret weapon. She sprays it all over to help even out her skin tone. It’s a trick Kim Kardashian has used for her psoriasis, too, according to Cosmopolitan, so perhaps it makes her feel a bit like a celebrity, too.

“It’s great for when I want to get dressed up and show off my legs and arms,” she says. “I spray it on, it covers up well, and it’s a quick-fix solution for when I’m feeling low.”

5. Modeling

After a full-body psoriasis flare-up at age 6, Nina Gobalakichenin, a now-28-year-old living in Paris, struggled with bullying and shame due to painful lesions, stretch marks, and hyperpigmentation. “I know how it feels to look at yourself and wonder why you look the way you look,” she says. “But I came to a point where I’d lost so much of my life fighting with my body that now I want to accept it.” She recently started modeling, and while she says it still feels difficult to show her psoriasis sometimes, getting in front of the camera has helped her begin to feel more comfortable in her own skin.

Sheila feels the same way. For her, scheduling a boudoir photo shoot for her 30th birthday was a huge boost to her self-esteem. “It’s the best thing I ever did. I never thought I could look sexy or beautiful in a photo, but this experience proved me wrong,” she says. “I want young people who have psoriasis to know, ‘You will make it through this diagnosis. Your skin may not heal the way you want it to, but with the right mindset, you’ll learn how to roll with it.’”

6. Opening Up to Friends

After her diagnosis with psoriatic arthritis and psoriasis, Lisa went from cycling more than 150 miles a week to experiencing complete exhaustion after a short ride. Finally, when she struggled to keep up with her riding buddies in the midst of a terrible flare-up, she felt she had to confide in them about her condition.

While it took time to adjust mentally and physically to these new challenges, their support was key to helping her start taking the breaks she needed, Lisa says. “Listening to them when they see what I may not see, or don’t want to see, helps me take time to listen to my body and let it heal,” she says.

Letting friends and family know what you’re going through not only gives you extra support in keeping tabs on symptoms and managing them well; it also helps you shift your perspective to acknowledge how much you’re truly capable of when your team is there to support you along the way.

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