I don’t know how I am going to afford this. I’m always worried about money. I’m scared about whether my cash is gonna hold until the end of the month. Sound like you?
In our current economic situation, if you haven’t found a reason of your own to be worried about your finances, the news does a pretty good job of giving you a daily reason to worry. It’s still rough out there. And most of us are feeling it.
When you are living with HIV, financial pressures can come from lots of different sources. Co-pays for doctor visits and medications. Vitamins or supplement products that may not be covered by your health plan. Even affording the nutritious foods your know you should be eating for optimal health can be an issue.
But here’s something to consider: Uncertainty about money can lead to stress. And stress can have a negative impact on your physical and mental health, which is why finding ways to manage that stress can be one of the best things you do for yourself.
Try these suggestions:
Start with acceptance.There are some things in life we can control and some things we can’t. Even in the best of times, the economy resides on the “can’t control” side. Battling something you can’t control – including spending a lot of your precious energy complaining and telling yourself that life shouldn’t be this way – is a recipe for more stress.
And don’t create catastrophes. It’s hard not to be surrounded by discussions of deficits and not let your mind wander into thinking about your own financial deficits and to do some “what if” thinking. But without real facts, our minds fill in the gaps. Often, with a worst case scenario. The future, for better or for worse, is not ours to predict.
Be grateful. One way to counter this mindset is to make a list of what’s working in your life. The people you can count on. The joys in your life, big and small. Spending some time each day being grateful can help avoid that “glass half empty” view of life.
Get support. I’m not saying that misery loves company, but I am saying that we are all in this together. Difficult times can be an opportunity to strengthen your connections with the important people in your life. Spend time with people who you care about and who care about you.
Stay optimistic.What are you telling yourself about your finances? If your internal conversation is all about telling yourself how awful things the future looks, then it’s time to rewire that negative thinking and replace it with more optimistic self-talk. Remind yourself: “I can’t control the future. I’m taking it one day at a time, and I’m doing the best I can.”
Keep your focus on your health. Back to the control thing. You do have control over doing everything possible to stay as healthy as possible. Take good care of yourself today and you will be that much better prepared to face any challenges in the future.
Build in stress relief.Managing your stress level is an important part of your self-care regimen. Build activities you enjoy into your daily routine. Spend time with family members. Use relaxation techniques. Do something about your stress before it does something to you.
Reach out to your fellow travelers. Nobody knows what it’s like to live with HIV better than someone who is traveling the same road. Talk with a friend. Reach out through support groups or online. Share your burdens, your joys, your questions, and your advice. We are all in this together.