The coronavirus pandemic has been an unsettling and strange time in our lives. Parts of 'normal' life have been returning and disappearing again. You may have been in and out of school or college, which will not be the same as it used to be, for example you might be having longer lessons or wearing a mask. You might be able to go back to hospital for your clinic appointments.
There are things about how we live at the moment that are very different from before and that you may not like or feel used to. Perhaps you have questions about HIV and COVID-19.
Since last year, we have also been talking more about the inequality and unfair treatment faced by Black people and other people from ethnic minority groups across the world, as well as right here in the UK. You may find you have questions about this or you want to talk to your friends from CHIVA about these issues.
Ideas for well-being
During these uncertain times, thinking about how to look after our well-being is especially important. You all know about the importance of HIV medicine for your physical health, but how can you try and look after your well being more broadly? There are lots of things that can help. Please see suggestions below.
Just because you can’t meet-up in person, doesn’t mean you can’t socialise! Try to keep in regular contact with friends and family, and stay connected. CHIVA camp has been place for young people with HIV to meet each other. If you have already taken part in CHIVA events, stay in touch with the young people you’ve met there. During the coronavirus pandemic, CHIVA are holding virtual peer support groups (see above).
Being informed is helpful in order to know how best to look after yourself and others, but the news can be overwhelming right now. Try limiting how often you read/listen to COVID-19 specific information (perhaps try keeping it to certain times of day).
Exercise naturally helps to lift your mood. It can be difficult to find the energy if you are feeling low, but even a short bit of exercise can give you a burst of energy and will make you feel a bit better.You could also try an activity at the same time as friends or family members to help motivate each other. Also, see the CHIVA Support Camp yoga sessions below. (Click on the images below for ideas.)
Sleeping too much or too little can affect your mood. It is important to try and stick to a routine where possible as it will help you get through the coming weeks and give you more energy. More information on how to improve your sleeping habits is here.
Trying to stick to a healthy diet and regular meals times will also help your mood. Of course it is ok to have the occasional treat and snack but sticking to regular meal times and having a varied balanced diet will ensure you are getting all the vitamins and minerals you need to stay well. There are lots of cheap and simple recipe ideas around if you want some new ideas, try here.
Doing things you enjoy
Even though our lives are restricted in lots of ways at the minute, try to make time for the things that bring you joy, energy and make you feel relaxed. That could be all sorts of things such as dancing, computer games, reading, baking, drawing, writing or crafts. If you don’t know where to start, try 10 fun things you can do at home or the different games and breathing exercises on Calm Zone.
We introduced a 'feeling tracker' idea to our online support group session recently. Feeling trackers can help you to connect with how you are feeling, it can also help you to focus in on the present what are you feeling right now? Rather than being focussed on the past or maybe worrying about the future, focusing on the present can help when you are feeling worried or anxious.
Feeling trackers can help you notice how your feelings and mood change through the day and across a week, and it may also help you notice what is helping you to feel happy and calm, and maybe what triggers more difficult feelings. Colouring is also a calming and ‘mindful’ activity which can help you feel calm and relaxed.
Make a self-soothing box
This can be a great way to manage your feelings. Collect some things together that help you feel more grounded and relaxed (e.g, positive affirmations, fidget spinners, photographs, something that smells nice, momentos with good memories associated with them) These boxes can really help if you get a feeling of panic, anxiety or low mood. To learn how to create a self-soothe box, click here.
What may work one day, may not work another. Whilst doing the above can help your wellbeing, it is important to be kind to yourself and go easy on yourself if you are not able to stick to a routine.
CHIVA Yoga and relaxation sessions
This is Liz our fantastic CHIVA Support Camp yoga teacher, who has especially recorded some short yoga sessions for you that can easily be done at home.
Welcome to CHIVA yoga