It’s the night before your big presentation at work. You’ve put together a package deal that will result in a twenty million dollar contract and tomorrow you have to present it to your client and your boss. Succeed and your name goes on the wall, Fail and six months of work go down the drain along with your dreams of making partner.
You’re checking the handouts, the PowerPoint, the laser pointer and you have all your notes loaded into your iPad. You’re going to go over your speech one last time and you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror on the wall, what is happening to your neck?
Giant red blotches are making their way up your neck and the sides of your
face. You run to the bathroom to get a closer look – it’s not just a trick of the light, there is a rash spreading across your upper torso.
Have you eaten anything unusual? Changed to a new detergent? Gotten bitten by a rogue type of mosquito? Please don’t let it be a virus that will debilitate you! What is wrong? Why is this happening? Doesn’t your body know what tomorrow means to you? Doesn’t it realize the stress that you’re under? Wait! stress, could this be a stress rash?
Anxiety or something else?
Stress puts your body in a state of tension. As a result, adrenaline and cortisol are released into your bloodstream, both of which can lead to skin reactions. High levels of these rushing through your blood can cause your skin to be more sensitive and react strongly to things such as cream or lotion. As an added bonus, it can cause your skin to break out into a rash. If you are already prone to skin conditions such as psoriasis or eczema you will likely experience an outbreak as a result of high levels of stress.
What does it look like?
Unfortunately, skin rashes don’t follow a set pattern. Typically a skin rash has large, red blotchy areas that cover the upper torso and face. It may or may not be raised and may or may not itch. The only real way to determine if a rash is caused by stress is to eliminate the stress and see if the rash goes away.
What about my presentation?
The first thing you should know is not to panic. A stress rash is not contagious, not life threatening and typically not permanent. However, it can take up to a week for the rash to subside, so you may have to deal with the blotchiness for a while. There are some things that you can do immediately that may relieve the symptoms.
Take an over the counter antihistamine. That will help to control the histamine levels in your body and begin to ease any itchiness or redness. Cold compresses can help relieve the itching and swelling as well.
Take a walk, exercise will help relax your body and will help to keep stress levels down by exercising you’re not only staying healthy, you’re keeping your mind from overload.
Get a good night’s sleep, the temptation to stay up late reviewing and preparing may be strong, but a good night’s sleep will help your body get back to normal and will help you feel less tired and anxious.
Eat a healthy, well balanced meal, don’t skip the fruit and veggies and don’t fill up on nervous eating – sweets and snack foods are not what you need right now. Eat protein and fiber to give you energy, as well as help carry you through your presentation without feeling hungry.
Think about peaceful things, obsessing over things doesn’t help. You’ve prepared for your presentation and you have put together the best package possible. Stop worrying about it and relax. Think about an upcoming vacation or reminisce about something you enjoy. Turn on some peaceful music and relax.
A stress rash does not mean that you can never work again but it may be an indicator that you need to make some lifestyle changes. Are you feeling overwhelmed? Learn to delegate or say no to things that won’t fit in your busy life. You shouldn’t bottle up your feelings, take control over the stress in your life and your rash will soon be a thing of the past. Now go knock your presentation out of the park!