By Gary McClain, Ph.D.
Originally published on Advocate.com May 01 2011 2:00 PM ET
Spring is almost upon us. Regardless of the climate you live in, you’re probably breathing a sigh of relief that another winter has ended. You may also have the sense that, with the shift toward warmer weather, your life is also kicking back into gear. Change is in the air!
Maybe you’re thinking about updating your look, expanding your mind, looking for a relationship, or maybe just giving your living space a good cleaning.
Whatever spring means to you personally, I would encourage you to approach the change of seasons by taking a look at your key strengths and deciding what areas of your life really support your well-being and what areas could use some updating. In other words, maybe it’s time for a tune-up.
Here are some areas of your life to consider:
Your emotional support team. Who are your go-to guys when you need a listening ear while you vent, rejoice, or have a good cry? How about when you want to throw out some ideas and get a fresh perspective? Keep those people close. And if you’ve got a few empty spots on your support team, make it one of your goals to recruit some new members.
Your health care team. Are you working closely with your health care professionals by keeping them informed of what aspects of your treatment are working well for you, letting them know what’s not, and asking questions? Having a team in place that you trust and can partner with is essential to optimizing your health.
Your problem-solving skills. Not sure what your problem-solving skills are? Think of when you were facing a challenge that threatened to overwhelm you, like a financial crisis, a health issue, or a relationship problem. How did you get through it? What inner resources did you call upon? What outside resources? Give this some thought and you will be able to identify your strengths as well as what you want to work on.
Your attitude. I know, here we go again with the positive thinking. But on those days when life feels like a long, hard road, I would encourage you to modify your self-talk just enough to accommodate the possibility that things may not be as bad as they appear at that moment. Practice countering the negatives with a few positives (“I can do it”). Remind yourself that life is good, that other people are doing the best they can under the circumstances, and that you can get to the other side of the dark cloud. In other words, the cup may actually be half full. Think compassion, starting with yourself.
Your destressing techniques. What do you do to calm that raging storm inside of you? Listen to your favorite music? Take a leisurely walk outside? Meditate? Pray? Do some yoga? Call a friend? Most of us have something that we can rely on to help us relax and return to our center when life feels especially overwhelming. Again, what’s worked for you in the past? And if you don’t have a destressing technique, you might try the ones I suggested.
Your diet and exercise habits. I am not going to give you the healthy eating lecture. But I do want to remind you of the importance of maintaining a healthy diet, one that promotes well-being and positive energy. Staying active—doing things you enjoy (that aren’t passive)—is also important to enhancing your energy and welfare.
Your information. Are you staying abreast of the latest research on HIV and its treatment? Are you aware of how the medications you are taking work and what side effects you might expect? Are you on top of things you need to be proactive about? When you’re up on the latest information, you are better able to partner with your physician.
Your vision for the future. What are you working toward? What keeps you going? Anybody else you want to be there for? Create a realistic vision for what you want your life to look like in the future and commit to making it happen.