a woman relaxing in a tub, coping with hiv during the holiday season

The Holiday Season

Whether you spend the holidays with loved ones or by yourself, make sure to enjoy the time. Last year, I chose to spend the holidays alone. On Thanksgiving, I cooked for myself, decorated my Christmas tree, treated myself to some wine and online shopping, and bought a few gifts to place under the tree.

I played my favorite music, danced, and sang along because music always brightens up the day. I cherished that alone time to reflect and take care of myself.

So, whatever you decide to do this year, make sure to prioritize self-care and avoid unnecessary stress. Journaling your thoughts may also be helpful.

Remember holiday blues may sink and we do not want that, right?! Be aware of what's going on with you, and if you have to call someone then do that because that may help take away any anxiety you may have.

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The holidays can be a time for yourself

I understand that dealing with HIV can be challenging, and it may be difficult to disclose it to your loved ones.

Sometimes, you may feel isolated and disconnected from the world because of this. When it comes to the holidays and being around family, it can add to the stress. However, it's important not to assume what others are thinking about you, as our minds can create false scenarios. I know for me overthinking can lead to anxiety, so it's always crucial for me to be mindful of that.

If you haven't shared your HIV status, try to find at least one person you trust, someone you can talk to openly and who loves you unconditionally.

We all need someone who can provide strength during tough times, especially during the holiday season. Nothing about you has changed since receiving that positive result. Others close to you may feel the same way you did initially, and that is because they may not have been properly educated about HIV, and that's okay.

Navigating (or avoiding) uncomfortable environments

During the holiday it is important to make time each day for self-care, whether it's finding moments of solitude, immersing yourself in different projects, or simply having some fun.

Activities can give you a much-needed break from the stresses of the season. Having adequate sleep is vital for individuals living with HIV/AIDS, and it's important not to push ourselves too much. Please be mindful of getting enough sleep and managing our exposure to situations that may throw us off balance.1

Much like being in crowded places, too many social interactions, or those uncomfortable family gatherings.

In the end - do what is right for you

It's nice to be alone and collect your thoughts, especially if you are feeling a little stressed about the holidays. It is supposed to be a time of cheerful smiles, tasty food, family, friends, and music.

Society often emphasizes that the holidays are meant for family gatherings, but that's not always the case for everyone. Don't overthink it and do what feels right for you. I always do my best to do what makes me happy and work hard to not let anyone drag my happy mood down, especially those who feel uncomfortable about you living with HIV. Don't let others dictate your choices.

Happy holidays!

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