5 easy steps to a more positive outlook

Living with any chronic condition can affect our mental health. The only way to ensure that doesn’t happen is to get proactive about it. So, what proactive steps can be taken in order to triumph over the lows so we can spend more time appreciating the highs?

Anyone who knows me knows that I love saying, “Stay positive.”

Stay positive, even though you might be living with HIV. You’re alive! And being alive is a gift.

But at times, “Stay positive” feels cliché. Sometimes I find myself hating it, the way you sometimes hate reading it, even though we both know there’s truth to it.

Life happens, and there are amazing things, terrible things, tragic things and hilarious things that all happen within it.

Maybe a relationship lasts long after it’s due to expire. Maybe you’re worrying about your kids. Maybe you’re lonely and worried you won’t meet someone.

Life has its anxieties! So how the heck are you supposed to be able to “stay positive” through all that?

The short answer is: You’re not. That would be impossible.

The thing to do is, TRY to “stay positive” by counteracting the negative thoughts. Here are five simple ways to defeat negative thinking:

1. LAUGH! Humor is the reason I’m still here today. Literally. Verywell Health reports that “one study suggests that healthy children may laugh as much as 400 times per day, but adults tend to laugh only 15 times per day.”
So laugh! Even if it’s a bit forced at first. Try and stay connected to humor; it is a great stress-reliever.

2. COMMUNICATE WITH LOVED ONES … even when it’s hard. And I know how hard it can be to let people around you know that you’re not doing well. It can be even harder to say you need their help. But you should know that communicating in and of itself will make you feel a bit better. You will know you’re not alone.

3. GIVE BACK WHEN YOU’RE READY. After you’ve gotten yourself to a good place, try volunteering. It’ll get your mind off of the negative, and in fact, according to reporting by The Atlantic, “people who volunteer lead longer, healthier lives. Some public-health experts believe the time has come for doctors to recommend it alongside diet and exercise.”

4. GET OUT THERE AGAIN. Again, when you’re ready, remember that you deserve love and partnership if that’s what you’re looking for. An HIV diagnosis does not change that. Check out DatingPositives.com if you’re looking to connect with other people living with HIV.

5. BE YOU … in every sense of the way. You may not be feeling your best on this day. But that’s OK. Things always ebb and flow, even when you’re in a good place. Stay in touch your favorite parts of yourself. Make sure you have something you’re passionate about doing, whether it’s working out, crafting, activism, friends and family time, etc. Focusing your energy on positive things in your life will help combat those negative thoughts.
Stay positive!

Josh Robbins is a spokesperson for DatingPositives.com, an award-winning sexual health advocate, and author of the site imstilljosh.com. He was nominated for a GLAAD media award in 2017 and recently won the National Lesbian and Gay Journalist Association’s Excellence Award in the blogging category.