Addressing Allergies and Anxiety

If you’re like me, spring is a terrible, terrible time because it means allergies are upon us. They cause congestion, fatigue, and general misery. Science has also shown that there’s a connection between allergies and anxiety, though we’re still not 100% sure what that connection looks like.

One part of the connection I addressed in my allergy post from last year.

But another way I believe allergies contribute to anxiety, based on my own experiences and casual research, is sleep. Or rather, the lack of quality sleep. Anxiety is more difficult to manage when you’re not well rested, and it can be hard to get a good night’s sleep when you’re suffering with allergies. On top of that, the general fatigue that can come as part of your body’s immune response to allergens only increases the trouble.

Another factor is increased sensitivity to changes in our bodies, which can be a symptom of anxiety. Maybe the allergies give us a headache, are making it harder to breathe deeply, or just generally causing unease. All these things could spike anxiety.

Furthermore, it could be that the severity of the allergies is being caused by anxiety. Stress and anxiety have an effect on the immune system, and can increase the likelihood and severity of allergic reactions. Does that mean that your anxiety is causing allergies? Probably not, but I don’t think it’s too crazy to think that they might be affecting the severity.

So, what can we do about it? 

What I do, which helps immensely, is keep on a regiment of over-the-counter allergy medicine. I’m hesitant to recommend a particular type because I’ve learned first-hand that these medicines are very hit-or-miss, but at the very least I suggest taking something before bed, so you can get a better night’s rest.

Some other tips to help you manage your anxiety when suffering with allergies:

  • Use positive self-talk to reassure yourself that you feel crappy because of allergies, and you’ll be ok. 
  • Stay hydrated; replenish the fluids your body is losing from your allergic reactions!
  • Spend time outside in the afternoon rather than in the morning, if you can help it. 
  • Was your hair at night before bed to reduce how much pollen ends up on your pillow.

Finally, if your allergies are particularly severe, it may be worth seeing an allergist and seeing if they can help you at all. 

Allergy season sucks. But I hope these tips will help it suck a bit less. Good luck!

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