Over the last 18 months I have been experiencing increasingly severe and spreading eczema outbreaks. What started as a small patch under my left eye moved and began to take hold above the eye and all around my neck. The outbreaks cycled and became worse overtime. It was itchy, red and flaky and the stuff around my neck became painful when I rode my bike and the sweat and wind felt like they were splitting the skin.
A couple of friends commented that oftentimes skin ailments are the result of stress or feelings of decreased worthiness. This made sense given that my diet is fairly good and fairly consistent and that my life is fairly consistent with activity, rest and sleep patterns being well established. There didn’t appear to be a direct environmental cause for the eczema so I was willing to accept that it was a reflection of how I was feeling about myself.
It was suggested that I buy some witch hazel and some cotton pads and use these instead of water to wash my face. After this I was to apply a good quality moisturizer to my face, particularly the affected patches. This was to be done twice a day each morning and before bed. I needed to make it a ritual and focus completely on what I was doing for the 5 minutes a day it would take. It was easy to do and I set out to do it to see what would happen.
My skin started to look better almost immediately. The flaking vanished and the redness started to fade. The itching stopped and riding became a lot less painful on my neck. Some of the wrinkles below my eyes started to disappear as well which was a nice bonus. After the first week my skin began to look healthier than I ever recall seeing it.
I also started feeling a lot better. My mood lifted dramatically and I found myself smiling and laughing more. No doubt this had something to do with my improved appearance but I also think it has a lot to do with the twice a day ritual. By taking the action to cleanse my face and use a good moisturizer I was putting effort into myself. This was valuing for me because I tend to only spend time on things that I believe have worth.
It was a small action that really only takes 3 minutes from beginning to end but it has made a tremendous difference in how I feel about myself. The effort I put in seems disproportionately less than the benefit I get from doing it. I do begin to look and feel worse when I miss a day so the positive effects are sustained so long as the behavior is sustained.
I’ve been told that there is very little chance that I will ever be completely free from the eczema and that I’ll probably always need to use some sort of moisturizer and right now I’m okay with that. If the small action of looking after my skin translates into the big outcome of feeling better about myself I’ll gladly keep putting the time in. It’s a small thing to do for myself and the benefits are far greater than the time it takes to perform!