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“Solitude is a chosen separation for refining your soul. Isolation is what you crave when you neglect the first.”

In this ‘coping’ chapter, we look at how your current coping habits are extremely detrimental to your overall health and how you could go about improving them.


 

Your common coping habit

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When you are faced with an attack of Herpes you probably have a routine that you go through. You go through these motions without thinking; they’re patterns that you repeat every time it happens because they’re the only way you know how to get through it all. They seem to be the only thing that provide you with any feeling of comfort and safety. There is another way, in fact there are many other ways, but you’ve been ‘coping’ like this for a really long time, and you just don’t know how or even why, you should change your reaction to an attack of Herpes. The most important point to note is that how you are ‘coping’ is just not at all healthy, it’s actually detrimental.

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Social Isolation

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As soon as an attack happens, that’s it; you ring in sick from work, close the curtains, get into bed and watch your favorite TV programmes in the dark. You ignore the phone, your boyfriend, and generally anything else you should be doing. In a brief positive moment you decide to treat it as a well-deserved break from the stresses and strains of everyday life but in the next breath realize that you’re wasting precious time. When all is said and done, you have Herpes, and you can’t do anything about that right? Wrong.

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Why am I doing this to myself?

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The first thing you must know is that what you are doing is totally normal. The stigma attached to the virus will of course make you feel uncomfortable in your own skin, and when this happens it is perfectly understandable that you wouldn’t want to appear in public like this. You feel like if you hide from the world, you can hide from the fact that this happens to you, but that doesn’t mean you should succumb to it and waste half of your life that could be better spent doing other more productive things, and not letting a virus that really isn’t life-threatening get the better of you. Surely, control of your own life is what is most important here, and what you should be focusing on, for the good of you.

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Why should I stop this behavior?

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Social Isolation is responsible for a wide range of effects on your body, and the majority of them, if not all, are negative. Let’s take a look at what you are actually doing to your body and to your life, when you’re locking yourself away from the real world:

Loneliness. The reason you’re doing it is to be alone and so that other people don’t see you in this way. It’s a temporary measure that if repeated over and over again, will definitely make you feel like you’re alone.
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Depression. The less contact you have with the real world and contact with your friends and family, the people who boost you up, the more you will start to really feel like no one is there for you, which can lead to sinking feelings of depression.
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Physical signs. The negative feelings you have from socially isolating yourself will show on the outside too, and they could eventually end up affecting your health and well-being.
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Personal problems resulting from social isolation are also common. This could be reflected by a loss of social life, less self-esteem and hence less friends, which will lead to an increase in the time you have an attack, and possibly an increase in the number of outbreaks you have. It’s a vicious cycle that you need to break.
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If you boil it down to the science, social isolation is actually wreaking havoc on your brain and leads to feelings of helplessness, anger and aggression which are emotions better served for something more life threatening.~

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How can I stop these ‘coping’ habits?

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Hopefully, you will have realized that social isolation is no good for you in the long-term. Nobody is saying however, that a day to yourself isn’t a good thing, in fact, independence, time to yourself and self-satisfaction are of course essential in life. The key is to not let loneliness become a part of your life. At times like these, when you have an attack of Herpes, you need to surround yourself with feelings of positivity. So what you should be doing is thinking about is how to adopt the exact opposites of your normal ‘coping’ habits:
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1. Communication over Silence

You might want to take a day off work, and that’s fine. We all have the right to feel a little sorry for ourselves at times, but just don’t let it take over you and your potential for productivity. You’re worth a lot more than that. Even when you’re by yourself, pick up the phone and talk to your friends and family, you could even look for fellow sufferers online to chat to, or meet with. Just take precautions like getting a good friend to go with you. It should provide you with some relief because talking to people where there is a mutual understanding can be extremely satisfying.
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2. Exercise over Television

What relief does TV provide you with? If you’re honest with yourself the answer should be “None”. It does however, give you some switch-off time, which everyone likes from time to time. Doing this on a regular basis though, is just down right unhealthy. In comparison to exercise, TV is the root of all evil. It can lead to depression, anger and decreases in intellectual capacity. Exercise, on the other hand, gives you endorphins which make you feel happy, relieves symptoms of depression, improves sleep and helps to build up your immune system. These are but a few of the side effects of exercise, and at times like this you need effects such as these more than ever.
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3. Light over Darkness

When an attack of Herpes occurs, especially on a visible part of your body, like your mouth, you might have a tendency to sit in the dark, not wanting to look at it or be made to feel ugly. This just serves to make you feel more depressed. You don’t have to sit in front of ten mirrors or anything but you should definitely shed some light on the situation. Instead of keeping the curtains closed, open them as you normally would. Letting the sunlight in will diminish the temptation to get back into bed and feel sorry for yourself, and of course a little bit of natural light will do wonders for your skin.

Of course it’s easy to talk the talk, but can you walk the walk? Just changing even one of these habits will help you to feel less depressed. And if you are able to change one habit now, you can change them all eventually 😎

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