In this article, I discuss how to deal with herpes stress. As in everything else related to herpes, stress is an individual affair and different for each person. However, there are several common rules to help identify and remove stressful situations.
- An event occurs in neural tissue to activate herpes towards an outbreak.
- Physiological change often plays a role in this “event.
- The physiological change often occurs as a result of a threat to body or mind. In other words, the body/mind system unconsciously and automatically mobilizes forces to respond to a potentially dangerous situation.
Stress in itself is fine and necessary to life. It promotes growth, renewal, and adaptation, both physical and behavioral. We are continually adapting to changing circumstances in our bodies and lives in general. That’s the nature of life processes.
Why Stress is Bad
The inherent problem, however, is that we can stretch our adaptational capacities just so far before detrimental effects occur. For example, cardiac and blood pressure problems are manifested by physical symptoms. But they are often related to long periods of continued stress as well as behavior that aggravates the condition. This includes eating particular foods, smoking cigarettes, and sustained tension. The continued stress steps up the neural and hormonal systems a notch or two.
A breakdown of adaptational mechanisms occurs as well as a decrease in all body processes that deal with foreign agents. This has two effects related to herpes. First, continued neural activation can easily become channeled into herpes activation. Second, healing by the immune system will decrease, resulting in more outbreaks of longer duration.
We cannot remove all stresses from life, but we can do a great deal to alleviate everyday stresses into herpes. But it takes a little looking into.
Points to Remember
- The effects of stressful situations can become channeled into herpes.
- Herpes can become a path of least resistance for the body effects of these stresses. Therefore, a pattern can become established.
- Chronically stressful situations are dangerous to your health via breakdown of normal recovery processes and depressions of immune defense capabilities.
Sources of Stress
So where do these stresses come from? What can you do about them? The effects are a result of your body and mind working together to perceive a situation as potentially threatening. If you are able to identify your stresses, then you can do something about them.
For example, an upcoming job interview produces anxiety, but good preparation can reduce much of the potentially deleterious effects. Whereas, leaving everything to the last minute and continually worrying will extend and intensify them.
Often the stress response will occur way beneath our awareness and show up as physical symptoms. But we can get a handle on much of this.
How Herpes Causes Stress
As we’ve seen, herpes often has the capacity to elicit negative feelings. These, in turn, can cause a stress response via worry and anxiety. A rather vicious cycle gets established; a herpes outbreak leads to more hidden worry which, in turn, contributes to an outbreak, and so on.
Remember again, herpes is only a small part of your life. You have your life to live by channeling your energies towards more productive pursuits than helping to make overuses! Break that cycle by breaking the link between herpes and negative emotions.
For many people, the emotional responses and frustrations that can occur with herpes tend to isolate them from others. When you are able to talk about herpes with others who can empathize, you’ll break that feeling of isolation. You’ll also find that your fear of rejection has significantly diminished.
The best way to dispense with the stressful effects of fear of rejection is to have successful interpersonal things happen. Success will breed success, and the important thing is that you have made the success happen. You are no longer at the mercy of circumstances.
Set small goals
You have broken the back of this problem when you wrest control of events into your own hands. The ﬁnal step occurs when you apply this approach to interpersonal relationships and work through the “how to tell” problem. Once you take the responsibility for your actions into your own hands, herpes will not control you. Failures and setbacks may happen so keep a support system of friends around you for encouragement.
People do master the effects of isolation and interpersonal fears. In so doing, you can substantially reduce the stress which can have a very profound effect on herpes symptoms.
We spoke earlier of another potent source of emotional stress, which concerns conflicting sets of emotions or motivations about relationships. In other words, a tendency to choose interpersonal situations that cannot work out.
This might simply be a way to keep people at a distance. It is almost the same as withdrawing and partly stems from the same source. Herpes or not, there is a fear of not being up to par or at your best. Being unsure is not something to be ashamed of. Instead, it’s something to be dealt with because herpes can feed into a person’s feeling less desirable. If not properly attended to, this kind of ambivalence and other already existing insecurities can become exacerbated. And the increases of stress can contribute to the physiological changes involved in an outbreak.
However, when conflicts are resolved, the life-disrupting problems of herpes are very much curtailed. And often, chronic outbreaks are reduced to occasional brief recurrences.
How To Overcome Personal Issues from Herpes
A more difficult problem for some women to resolve comes from a part of our cultural training. Herpes can add to the associated feelings of lack of worth to create doubt as well as guilt or shame. Certainly, anger will occur here.
Again, this can be directed in a constructive way to motivate getting on top of herpes. Separating these feelings from herpes itself is an important aid to all aspects of adjustment.
Men with herpes more often worry about performance. Will it break out before a romantic date? Who will accept a guy who is out of action so often? Again, the doubts and worries can feed on basic questions about self-image which are in turn fed by the culture.
When these questions are examined in a rational light this type of stress is removed and adjustment is speeded up. Emotional responses to herpes are tied to many sources. So stresses, as they relate to herpes, are found in many areas of life.
Life Changes and Planning
Changes in one’s life can also cause stress and some are unpredictable. Relationship breakups can be very stressful, as can changing jobs or moving. Recognize that all changes require a period of adjustment. If you can, make one major change at a time and plan as best you can. Having a sense of control and being able to anticipate and prepare can reduce the stresses of your life.
The “too busy” syndrome falls under this category. Some people thrive on a slight overload, while others do not respond as well to having too much to do. Feeling overwhelmed is an indicator to take stock and adjust things accordingly. It is not always easy to organize time more efficiently or to plan further down the road.
But if you have no time for enjoyment, then you are most likely working on the side of herpes. The “too busy” syndrome can be hard to find, so take a careful look at your schedule.
How to Reduce Herpes Stress
Direct means of reducing immediate stress can be found in various relaxation techniques. I’ve included some references to different types of methods in the resource section. The key to all of them is giving yourself some time out from mental concerns and physical drain. Instead, spend some good time with yourself.
One standard technique is deep muscle relaxation, which has been used successfully in many areas of life and of medicine. It can easily be adapted to help rechannel concerns away from herpes and therefore play a role in symptom reduction. I will give you the outline and you can adjust it according to your needs and personality.
Identifying prodromal signs ahead of time is the first step to starting an outbreak action. Recognize those signs and use them as a stimulus to begin a relaxation regimen.
Lie down comfortably. Clench one fist and tense your forearm. Now relax the muscles and feel the relaxation. Don’t clench too tightly, just enough to feel the difference when you slowly relax the muscles. Feel the heaviness and warmth set in.
Do this with your upper arm, nice and slow. Then repeat with the other hand and arm. Now the legs, one at a time, and then move through the rest of the body—back, abdomen, shoulders, neck.
Build on this over a few days until you can relax at will. There are all sorts of ways to learn to relax at will and make peace with your mind. Some people like meditation; there are various forms of meditation to try.
Others like to imagine themselves in a beautiful place, while some may have a favorite piece of music to listen to. The secret is to have a ﬁxed and constant therapy that will help you to quiet your mind and body.
Let the feelings of relaxation take over your mind and body. Don’t try too actively—allow it to happen. In other words, make your perceptions of them disappear. Reinforce this by telling yourself what you are going to do before you start each time. If your herpes pain is more severe than the usual dull ache, this will be more difficult (see the resource section). For most prodromes, however, it is possible to reduce the effects of stress in an outbreak.
Start as early as possible during the onset of early symptoms. When you are able to eliminate herpes sensations from your mind, you will have come a long way. You will break any effect of the vicious cycle between herpes and emotions.