5 Activities to get your Mind off of a Herpes Outbreak

An STD diagnosis can be more harmful to mental health than one might imagine. Feelings of shame, guilt, and the fear of being socially ostracized can affect the patient’s ability to feel joyful. As discussed in other articles on the site, negative thinking can toy with your ability to manifest and feel confident enough to move forward in life. These thoughts can have a damaging effect on relationships, and cause undue stress on the body – whether you’re conscious of them or not.

The physical symptoms of STDs only scratch the surface of what’s to come for many, thus, many patients diagnosed with incurable STDs like genital herpes and HIV will also experience even more debilitating side effects, namely depression.

Genital Herpes is a painful, vicious, and contagious sexually transmitted infection that affects 1 out of every 6 Americans, according to CDC.gov. An outbreak of the disease can have you worried, even after symptoms have faded, especially if you have an active sex life.

Though genital herpes cannot be cured, it can be managed with oral medication and a balanced, healthy lifestyle. When you’re experiencing STD-related discomfort in the body, avoid sexual intercourse, and instead follow these equally beneficial practices that will keep you distracted from the sensations you might be experiencing, and lessen the chances of experiencing mental health side effects.

1) Exercise

When you’ve contracted an STD, diet and exercise become even more important. You’re more susceptible than the unaffected population to catching immune system compromising diseases and infections, especially other STDs.

According to WebMD, exercise releases chemicals called endorphins which interact with the receptors in your brain that reduce your perception of pain. They create a sense of well-being, similar to that of morphine making it hard to focus on a Herpes outbreak, or sex in general. Releasing endorphins during workout routines at the gym is a great way to kill time and pain during an outbreak.

Exercise also has psychological benefits, helping alleviate depression and anxiety – common side effects of a genital herpes diagnosis.

Whether doing hot yoga, zumba, running, or jogging – cardio will help to ease the pain and stimulate this mood-altering brain chemistry. If you find the notion of weights or treadmills unappealing, try swimming or playing tennis. It doesn’t have to be a 10-mile run, so you shouldn’t feel intimidated. Breaking a sweat in the steam room, and proceeding to a zumba class should be sufficient to ensure your mind doesn’t wander off where it doesn’t belong.

2) Reading & Writing

There have been numerous studies that suggest that reading can produce “happy” chemicals in the brain. These chemicals will distract you from an outbreak. It’s especially helpful to read books on “unsexy topics” like politics, economics, or history. With these topics, you are unlikely to trigger thoughts about sex, or negative emotions that cause stress and thus, you won’t further aggravate the outbreak.

If you are still in school, then a Herpes outbreak provides a nice period to catch up on your studies and concentrate on finishing your work. Books of any kind are good alternatives to watching movies filled will visual and audio triggers that could force your mind down a path you aim to steer clear of.

Happy brain chemicals are your best friend. Everyone should try to avoid stress and anxiety, especially during an outbreak. Dopamine, Serotonin, Endorphins, & Oxytocin will help you to avoid pain and discomfort, while feeling at ease despite physical annoyances.

Feelings of regret, shame, etc. can make an outbreak worse. Sexual intercourse, arousal, and negative emotions will redirect your attention back to the outbreak which is unhelpful when it comes to getting over an outbreak. If you feel these negative emotions, writing in a diary or poetry can be a great stress-reliever. Eliminating negative emotions will help you to recover more quickly.

3) Playing Games

Video games, trivia nights, poker, sports, and even playing chess can be particularly engaging and immersive. Try to avoid games with sexual innuendos, and stick to the activities that make you laugh. According to The Utopian Life, along with exercise, laughter is one of the easiest ways to induce endorphin release.

If you don’t fancy spending countless hours in front of a TV screen, you could play card games, board games, work on a puzzle, or sudoku. Socializing also proves an excellent source of distraction during an outbreak, and games like monopoly can help you to feel surrounded by the support of friends and family – reducing the chance of feeling depressed or anxious during an outbreak. Mind games are especially helpful to get your mind off any pain you’re experiencing.

4) Outdoor Activities

As mentioned, socializing is very helpful – but it may be challenging to avoid drugs and alcohol while socializing during an outbreak. Instead, ask your friends to go camping, or hiking. This can offer multiple benefits, as it will release endorphins via physical exertion and oxytocin as a result of bonding with loved ones.

Along with that, being in nature will offer distraction from the outbreak by stimulating a healthy dose of dopamine, the neurotransmitter that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. It’s beneficial to socialize frequently during an outbreak, so you don’t find yourself spending too much time alone with your thoughts.

5) Find A New Hobby

If you are talented, or enjoy music, painting, writing, sewing, performing, or drawing, it’s a good time to put those talents to use. Many people struggle to socialize during an outbreak due to feelings of embarrassment, or apathy. If you’d rather spend time alone, it’s best to entertain immersive, or creative endeavors.

One of the best distractions is working toward a goal that stimulates positive emotions, producing happy chemicals in the brain along the way. Whatever activity you choose, make sure it’s something you can spend hours doing.

The First Few Months

According to homestdtesttalk.com, asymptomatic shedding is when the herpes virus reproduces and sheds its offspring even though you won’t see any cold sores or any other symptoms.

In newly infected people, this shedding happens 20% to 40% of the time. That can greatly impact your quality of life for the first 6 months, until the shedding slows.

In a nutshell, a herpes outbreak is mind over matter. Your body is challenging you to fight harmful bacteria, and it’s your job to provide the right chemicals to get the job done. Keeping busy will allow your body to heal, without creating additional stress along the way.

Giving yourself less time to worry is very important until you no longer worry about outbreaks. The first 5 years of living with genital herpes can be painful, challenging, and stressful. During this time, it’s common to feel additional anxiety and frustration, making outbreaks more painful and long-lasting.

A Bit of Advice

If you’re living with an incurable STD, dealing with physical symptoms can be quite frustrating. They always seem to come at the wrong time, however, stressing about them will only make things harder to control. There are a few things you can do to lessen the impact an outbreak has on your quality of life.

Deviate from any activities that might get you sexually aroused, or irritate the affected area. The most important thing to do is to remain calm, and do activities that make you happy. Instead of worrying or judging yourself, focus your energy on activities that make you feel good mentally & physically.

Camila Villagonzalo

Camila Villagonzalo is a blogger and part-time assistant at a tech company. I enjoy writing on topics in mental & sexual health and politics.