Each year, when we come to the end of August, I can’t avoid asking myself the same question: Having fun yet? And I have to confess, the answer is pretty much the same. Not as much as I could have. And should have. Life got in the way, mainly because I allowed it to.
I have clients who are my role models for having fun in the summer. They’re involved in summer sports teams. They’re having barbecues. They’re visiting friends on the weekends (especially the friends who live near water).
I have other clients who are somewhere in between, trying to have some fun things in between their other responsibilities. And a few who admittedly aren’t having fun at all, and want some help in adding more fun into their life.
Having fun plays a role in your overall wellness. Smiling produces positive hormones which can, in turn, lower stress. A good laugh helps you to keep your perspective on life when the challenges of the day seem to be closing in on you. Having fun for awhile is a great distraction from your problems. And having fun with other people brings you closer.
Has your HIV self-care affected how you have fun?
If having fun has been all about letting loose today and facing the consequences tomorrow, then maybe you’ve had to tone things down a few notches. Watching what you drink, or otherwise consume to alter your mind, not staying out so late, not getting into situations where you might be less likely to use your best judgment.
I’ve had clients living with HIV tell me that they really miss the way they used to party, but also recognize that their health has benefitted from setting limits. They feel better, more energetic, more engaged with their life. I’ve had clients – especially newly-diagnosed – who are still fighting the idea of making changes that might promote their health, even if their physicians have driven the point home pretty hard. With acceptance comes willingness to make positive changes.
But to be honest, clients often tell me that their HIV diagnosis has been a wake-up call to take life more seriously, beginning with taking better care of themselves. It’s not that they don’t want to have fun anymore, or can’t have fun, but their priorities in life have shifted. And that means redefining what it means to have fun in ways that support their health and wellness, their goals, who they want to be to themselves and others.
If you haven’t already made adjustments in how you have fun, keep in mind that change does not equal no more fun. So keep an open mind.