Coping with the everyday stresses of having HIV
10 ways to deal with stress

10 Ways to deal with stress:

Here are some ways youth in Canada deal with stress. Try out a few and see how they work for you.

  1. Meditation: Studies show that meditation lowers stress and blood pressure. Some people call meditation "quieting your mind." Let your thoughts come and go as they please—and live in the moment. To meditate, begin by sitting straight and comfortably on the floor. Breathe through your nose and try not to keep track of time. Focus on the moment and the sensations. If you find you are thinking of other things you can try to focus on a word or sound. You can buy meditation tapes that will take you through a relaxing “guided” meditation at most health food or New Age stores.
  2. Deep breathing: You focus on your breathing. Take deep breaths and slowly inhale and exhale. It’s hard to think of much else when you are focusing on breathing, but if a thought comes nto your mind, you can count the beats of your breath to help keep you focused.
  3. Muscle relaxation: Get into a comfortable position (probably lying on your back) and notice where your muscles are tense. Try now to relax those muscles. A lot of people find that their jaw, tongue, neck and shoulders hold a lot of tension.
  4. Using your imagination: Imagine you are in a nice place. Some people imagine looking at the mountains or being by the ocean. While you imagine the place, concentrate on the sights, sounds and smells of that place. You can get tapes from the library or your local health food or New Age store that have the sounds of waterfalls, the ocean, birds and other soothing sounds that can help you with this.
  5. Exercise: Try stretching out your muscles. Do some jumping jacks or jogging in one place to warm up your body. Or you can go out for a walk or run in the fresh air. Moving your body helps get rid of stress and the fresh air is good for your body! It can be a very refreshing way to change your mood.
  6. Get lots of sleep: Since you are a youth you need more sleep than other people because your body is growing and changing. Sleep also helps keep your immune system in "tip-top" shape.
  7. Be creative: Music, poetry and art are ways to express your inner thoughts. Try it out. Grab a pen and paper and write lyrics to a song, a poem, start a journal or draw a picture. You can even grab a camera and take some pictures!
  8. Have fun: I know our lives can get really busy—but we have to make room for things we really love to do. Listen to music that makes you feel good, meditate, go to a yoga class. Hang out with a friend or a family member, take up a sport, have coffee and read a good book. Take a long bath or go shopping. Go see a funny movie...sometimes laughter can make a stressful situation a lot better. Do things that make you feel good about yourself. You deserve it!
  9. Spend some time on your own: Take a moment every day to stop and have a few moments alone before you start your busy day. Try stopping while walking and listening to the sound of birds, the wind or other things you may miss. Some people read an inspirational quote or write in a journal first thing in the morning to help them get ready for the day.
  10. Reflect: Think back to what has helped you relax and deal with difficult situations in the past.

Hospital for Sick Children University of Toronto Positive Youth Outreach CATIE