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Happy, healthy and connected

The holidays can either be a lot of fun or a real drain on you physically, emotionally and on your bank account. For people with HIV, and for those in the LGBT community, who may have complex relationships with family, it’s important to think ahead. Here are four, simple, practical actions you can take to stay happy, healthy and connected over the Christmas and holiday season.

1. Spend 10 minutes making a list of the people who want to see and the things you want to do

Santa isn’t the only one who should be making lists of people who are naughty and nice. You should too. Spend 10 minutes while you’re on the bus, or right after you read this article, to make a list of the people you want to see and things you want to do over the holidays. These should be people and things that will make you feel happy, fulfilled and rested as you enter the new year. 

Making a list can also help you think through the people you don’t normally have time to see during the year, including family members. You might realise you’ve been avoiding some old friends because of fear of stigma associated with HIV. Often our fears aren’t based on reality. We can also put up walls that others sense, causing them to stay away. The holidays are a great time to reach out and reconnect.  

2. Use the free time to connect with the community and help others

Helping others makes you feel great. It’s especially important if you live apart from family, or have complex relationships. The holiday season can magnify feelings of loneliness, which can harm your health. There are many organisations looking for volunteers over the holidays. It’s also an excellent way to make new friendships and feel connected to a community. You can find volunteer opportunities at www.govolunteer.com.au

3. Stay in control of your health and wellbeing using tools such as MyLife+

Living with HIV is much easier these days, but it’s still a chronic disease and it’s important that you look after your mental, emotional and physical health. Sometimes going to the gym, or taking ‘time out’ by yourself can get sidelined. If you are prone to get the blues, keep track of how you are feeling each day, to avoid letting depression sneak up on you.

It’s also easy to forget to take your meds due to hectic social schedules or traveling. The newly released app, called MyLife+, makes it easy to keep track of your health and wellness and has customisable pill reminders. You can also store all your health information in the app, which is kept securely on your phone. Having this information can be very important if you get sick and can’t see your normal healthcare provider. Download the app ahead of the holidays so you’re prepared: www.mylifeplus.com.au

4. Celebrate your journey and decide on two goals to achieve in 2017 that move your life forward

As the clock strikes midnight, it’s normal to be reflective on the year that has just passed and the year ahead. Prepare in advance for those inevitable reflective thoughts. Think about and celebrate everything big and small that you have achieved this year and on your life journey.  

It’s also important to start thinking about some goals you want to achieve by the end of 2017. Studies show that setting measurable and achievable goals is more effective than setting resolutions. For example, instead of saying you are going to become super fit, set a measurable goal of going to the gym at least three  times a week. It’s also important to write down your goals and tell your friends and family.  

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