When someone is diagnosed with HIV, many things go through their mind and body. Voices and feelings of shame, of fear and of anger often flare up. If not looked at, these can lead people down a spiral of negativity, isolation, anxiety and depression.
However, with the right care, tools and time, anyone can learn to transform these into a healthy, joyful and fulfilling life. Here are some seven areas to focus on in order to do so:
The number one way to not get carried away by each though and emotion is to practice staying in the present moment, connected with your body, breath and emotions as much as possible. Not an easy task for some of us, who would much rather avoid feeling certain uncomfortable feelings by overthinking and worrying, or keeping ourselves busy.
A simple practice of meditation or yoga will do wonders to bring you gently back into the present moment whenever you notice yourself being somewhere else. Try 15-20mins of meditation a day for 21 days to build your practice.
Through learning to stay present, you will become more and more aware of yourself: of your needs, your body sensations and your desires. Take the role of a compassionate observer, and notice your thoughts, emotions and impulses throughout the day: you will learn a lot about how you operate, what triggers you, and what beliefs may be holding you back.
As they say, attitude is everything. Your intention will determine how each day goes, how you respond to your diagnosis and to challenging situations. Practice an attitude of being open to life, saying yes to all of its experiences, of being grateful for even the most uncomfortable ones: when you look deeper, there are always hidden diamonds in everything.
After a diagnosis - but even before - we can often forget our dreams, instead aiming only to survive instead of thrive. Even in the darkest of times however, you can still choose to commit to finding happiness, to experiencing more joy, to being fulfilled - even if you have no idea how it will happen. Let life bring you the people and experiences you need to move towards what you really desire.
As you move forwards, in comfortable and uncomfortable times, make your growth a priority: attend workshops, read books, journal, meditate. Knowledge might not be power, but it sure is grounding, and arms you to face your reality. Explore the world around you and yourself - even the darker, more uncomfortable layers. And get creative: find something that brings you joy. Write, paint, draw, take photographs, dance, sing, act - do whatever brings you to life.
An HIV diagnosis often triggers an already existing sense of not belonging, and a deep fear of rejection. Instead of isolating yourself from the world, practice reaching out to people around you, either friends or a community group. Learn to ask for help and to give support when others around you need it. Spending more time connecting with nature will also help you feel more grounded and more part of this beautiful world we call home.
Last but not at all least: develop a self-care routine that makes you feel grounded and happy. Taking your medication and any supplements, having some relaxation time, stretching, exercising, meditating, cooking healthy meals, spending time in nature. Make this your number one priority, and if it doesn't bring you any joy, then perhaps you need to rethink what you are doing or how you are doing it.
Want to find out more about how you can Thrive with HIV? Take a look at www.thrivefoundation.org.uk
This article was first published on thrivefoundation.org.uk/blog