When you look at a butterfly, you might admire its beautiful, bright wings. As dynamic as it is, you don’t see the metamorphosis process it took to get there. Feeling comfortable with your eczema when you’re out and about can be similar, and it’s important to realize that being able to navigate social events confidently is a process. Once you acquire the skills to do so, you can emerge as the social butterfly you were meant to be.

If you’ve been diagnosed with eczema, you can find yourself struggling in an isolated cocoon, where every scratch results in anxiety and every visible scar leads you to self-doubt. Regardless of how challenging eczema is, it’s important to build your confidence so you’re able to enjoy any event with ease. Here are a few ways to navigate your way through social events while dealing with eczema.

As debilitating as eczema is, it’s the card you’ve been dealt. Don’t beat yourself up over an uncontrollable skin condition. Give yourself some time and learn to accept it. Have a positive attitude and understand you’re not the only one living with this condition. Once you’ve come to terms with your eczema, you’ll start to become your own advocate and feel more relaxed when interacting with others.

This French acronym stands for “répondez, s’il vous plaît.” In other words, please respond, preferably with a yes! Avoid getting into the autopilot habit of canceling plans due to the state of your skin. Challenge yourself to attend events you might normally skip, because the more experiences you have, the more comfortable you’ll feel.

3. Control the narrative.

Let go of your preconceived notion of “what people will think” if they see rashes covering your body. Instead of dwelling, take this moment to control the narrative. Tell yourself they may see your eczema, but they’ll also see the awesome personality you have. If you don’t seem to care, they won’t either. Take control of your eczema; don’t let your eczema take control of you.

4. Assess the atmosphere.

Learn as much as you can about the event space before you attend. What will the weather be like? Will this event be indoors or outdoors? Will there be air conditioning or will they have a fan? Once you’ve responded “yes” to any event, it’s always best to be prepared. This will help put your mind at ease as an eczema flare-up can be tricky. Always ask questions, do research, and seek answers upon your arrival.

Give yourself some time to think about the event, then set some goals. Maybe you want to be brave and introduce yourself to 10 new people. Or perhaps you’ll want to see if anyone has binged the same TV shows as you. You might even set a goal of not covering up your skin if someone happens to stare at it a few seconds too long. Either way, setting goals is an excellent way to become more comfortable in social settings with your eczema.

It’s important to make sure you feel your best at all times. You can do this by making sure you’re getting plenty of water, sleep, and exercise. Incorporate lots of fruits and vegetables into your diet. And make sure your skin is moisturized. If possible, you’ll want to avoid any known triggers right before the event begins.

As cliché as it sounds, you only live once! So let go of all the negative pent-up energy that eczema has caused. Put your phone down and make an effort to connect to others. Replace those pessimistic thoughts with gratitude, and think about how lucky you are to be at this event. Realize that people aren’t paying as much attention to you as you think. Motivate yourself to start thriving. You’ll be amazed at how much you have in common with the people attending. You’ll start to understand that everyone is going through their own battle, oftentimes ones you can’t see. Most importantly, when the event is over, you’ll congratulate yourself and realize that it wasn’t so bad. All you need is that extra push. Similar to a beautiful butterfly, you too can emerge from your cocoon brighter and more dynamic than before!

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