Herpes And Stress

A lot of people don’t know that herpes and stress are very much related.  If you didn’t already know, stress plays a significant role in our overall health too...and not just from herpes.  Nearly every illness and disease can be directly or indirectly linked to stress in the body.  Whether that’s from an emotional stressful situation or from of physical stress placed on the body.  But what many of us don’t understand is that all this stress and worry puts a strain on our bodies and it can really take a huge toll, especially on someone who already has a chronic health condition.

The more stress that you have in your life usually relates to the number of outbreaks you’ll have.   There have been many studies, such as the one published in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1999, that has shown that ongoing chronic stress lasting more than a week seems to bring on a herpes outbreak more than any other lifestyle factor such as improper diet. 

Chronic stress is referred to as long term stress that builds up over a period of time.  Some of these chronic stress factors include worrying about finances, a troubled personal relationship, or even job security.

However the bottom line is that the more stress that you have in your life the more genital herpes outbreaks you tend to have. 

Now that you know that stress can really be an obstacle if you have genital herpes. But it’s also extremely important to understand how and why it can be harmful and also to understand the role stress plays in herpes outbreaks and their frequency.

Over the course of the past few years as I have gotten to know more and more people who have herpes, it’s clear that some people have more outbreaks than others.  Is this because some people have more severe cases of herpes or is it something else.  Well, the answer is clear that a person can’t have a more severe case of the herpes virus than another person.  It just doesn’t happen that way.  Either you have it or you don’t. 

But when you start digging into the differences between the people you’ll find that the key difference is that a person’s immune system is better able to fight the virus and keep it from becoming active in the system again.  People who have a healthier lifestyle are the people who tend to have fewer outbreaks. The healthier person will eat healthier, exercise more and manage stress better.  And therefore, have a stronger immune system than another causing them to have fewer and less severe outbreaks.  

How Does Stress Affect Herpes Outbreaks?

So just how exactly does herpes and stress affect the severity and frequency of outbreaks?

When your body is stressed, your immune system is weakened. And when your immune system is weakened, the more susceptible you are to disease and infection. This gives the herpes virus plenty of time to activate again in your nerves.

When you experience stressful times in your life this can cause the herpes virus to become active in your system and allow outbreaks to occur. If you are a highly stressed out person, you may continue to have more outbreaks than another person might.

Getting your stress under control can help you get your herpes under control and live with fewer outbreaks and less severe symptoms when they do occur.

Dealing With Herpes and Stress

The crazy thing about herpes and stress is that it affects people differently.  What may be stressful to you may not be stressful to another person when faced with a similar situation.  If you take the necessary steps to reduce the stress in your life, you will also be taking steps to boost your immune system and make your body more resistant to herpes outbreaks and other more serious infections and diseases.

But more importantly, you will begin to feel better and healthier which also leads to fewer outbreaks. Just like with diet and nutrition, it’s all part of an overall better body plan. There are many different ways to help reduce stress and you need to find ways that work best for you and your lifestyle but the list below are some suggestions to help you get started and find the best method that works for you…

Learn How to Identify The Source of Your Stress

Your first step is to identify the source of your stress.  Is your job causing you stress?  Is another family member stressing you out?  Or are you stressed because your relationship is not going in the direction that you want it to?  Once you can identify where your stress is coming from you can take the necessary steps to deal with it or eliminate it altogether.

Get Plenty of Rest

One of the best ways to reduce your stress is to get the proper rest and sleep.  However, I realize that just being a part of a stressful situation will make it harder for you to get enough sleep.

Start a Journal

Keeping a journal about the things in your life that are causing you stress can be very helpful and therapeutic.  When I write in my journal, my emotions tend to overflow onto the paper.  Sometimes I’m not even aware of just how strong my feelings are about different thing until I write them out on paper.  So take some time (about 15-20 minutes) and write out and record your feelings.

Let Out Your True Feelings

In the world that we live in today, letting your true feelings out and show them can be hard if not uttering impossible.  Especially when trying to talk about herpes.  People tend to judge others with herpes and this causes stress.  Others want to poke fun at it making it very hard to talk about it and understand where we are coming from.  Unfortunately we’ve been conditioned to hide our feelings.

Trying talking about stressful things to a close and trusted friend, family member or even seek out a good therapist.  You may just need to let out some of your anger or you may simply need a shoulder to cry on without being scared of feeling embarrassed or ashamed.

Start Getting More Activities In Your Life

Taking time for YOU is so important and a great way of doing this is by doing activities that YOU enjoy.  You might want to play a sport or try out a hobby or just taking time to spend time in your garden.  An activity that I found get comfort in is volunteering.  Volunteer work has been shown to be extremely helpful for those who are feeling stressed.  There’s nothing like helping someone in need to make you feel joyful for all the good things in your life.  Helping others is uplifting and an amazing way to relieve stress.

Let Your Past Stay In The Past

Sometimes our stress is caused by not allowing past life events to stay in the past.  A prime example of this is forgiving the person who transmitted the herpes virus to you.  What has happened has already happened and no matter what you say or do, you can’t change things.  For good or for bad, you must learn to leave those things in the past and start looking forward to your future.  Try doing things like yoga or tia chi and meditating as they can help you focus on the present and not the past.

Herpes and Stress - Get Active and Exercise

I can’t stress (pun intended) this enough.  Exercise is such a great way to reduce the amount of stress in your life…plus it can help you become healthier. Go for a long walk.  Get on your bike and ride.  Put on your fancy clothes and go dancing!  Any physical activity will help you.  Read my page on Herpes and Exercise to learn more about how exercise affects your outbreaks.

Eat Right to Bust Herpes and Stress

Eating a well-balanced diet is not only healthy for controlling herpes outbreaks but it’s a great way to reduce or eliminate stress.  Focus on eating healthy “Herpes-Friendly” fruits, veggies, lean protein and low-fat dairy items as I wrote about in an article on eating smart for controlling herpes outbreaks. 

It just makes sense to avoid things that contain a lot of sugar as they have a dramatic effect on your blood sugar levels.  But more importantly they can also cause mood swings where you’ll find yourself high as a kite one minute and feeling sluggish and tired the next. 

Find a Local Support Group

I can’t express enough the important role of the many herpes support groups and counseling available if you need help with coping with a herpes diagnosis or just about anything in your life that causes you stress.   If you experience the death of a loved one, a big move or loss or change of job or some other significant change in your life and lifestyle, it could warrant some therapy or counseling to help you manage this stressful event so that you can still keep your herpes in control as well.

In conclusion, having herpes and stress all boils down to having good friends and family that you can talk to in times of stress is a great way to keep your feelings in control and reduce stress-related herpes outbreaks. Remember that to suppress your herpes outbreaks, it’s all about having a balanced life and a healthy immune system. The healthier you feel, the fewer outbreaks you will have.  You can find out more information on stress here.


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