Herpes for the Holidays

Penelope James Health Guide
  • It can be tough managing herpes during the holiday season.  All the foods that I’m not supposed to eat – chocolate, nuts, sugar – are suddenly at my every turn, charming me with their irresistible decadence.  They are at my workplace, they somehow find their way to my home, and they thrive at all the holiday parties I both willingly and reluctantly attend.  Speaking of holiday parties, there is more free booze (and excuses to drink it) during this time of the year than any other.  Alcohol is another enemy of my body that I’m horrible at resisting, and, needless to say, takes a toll on my health.  It’s bad enough I’m gaining a few pounds from all this; but I need to worry about outbreaks too? 

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    In addition to dietary temptations, there is the inevitable stress that comes with the holiday season.  Shopping for gifts, booking flights, taking time off work (which, for a freelancer, brings financial stress), trying to get along with my family…there’s no end to the ways in which I can be affected by stress.  To top it off, I always catch a cold sometime during the winter, which inevitably puts a huge damper on my desire to exercise.  No exercise causes more stress.  No exercise plus lots of cookies causes a fatter gut.  A fatter gut causes more stress.  It’s the vicious cycle that lands me in an even bigger pile of stress and often an outbreak.


    However, this year was a bit different.  For one, I’ve been on suppressive therapy, which has really helped reduce the number of outbreaks.  To be honest, that was probably the main reason I haven’t had an outbreak this holiday season.  I did catch my usual cold (though since I contracted herpes my colds have been much less severe than in the past, and I’m convinced there’s a correlation), but I was able to get some exercise because I’ve started bicycling as a method of transportation. 


    As for the stress, I decided to take matters into my own hands.  Thanks to good ol’ Amazon.com, and the fact that my family loves music and reading, I was able to get my Christmas shopping done about a month early!  Yes, it’s true.  There were no long lines to wait in, no fighting for the last of this or that.  No tearing through the crowded streets like a salmon struggling to get upstream.  Not this year.  It was as easy as a few mouse clicks.  (Ahh yes, I knew I could balance out the time I’ve wasted on addictive websites like Facebook with something more productive online.)  I managed to work a little extra at one of my freelance jobs, and because I’ve worked so hard this year I got a bonus that made up for the other days I was missing.  (My first bonus...yay!) 


    The airport was a disaster, as most of you probably know.  But by leaving my house with plenty of time (something I often struggle with), and by being organized about my trip, I managed to make my flight and am now sitting comfortably in my parents’ home.  Typically, our family dynamics alone will cause a lot of stress.  So far, it’s been okay.  I’m thinking transcendental thoughts, and simply not letting my sister’s scathing remarks get the best of me.  So even without my usual anti-stress miracle herbs (ie marijuana) I know it’s within my power to control my level of anxiety.  It also doesn’t hurt that I’ve got the guest house all to myself.  ;-) 


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    I really believe in the power of the mind.  I know it’s within my power to not fight with my family, not eat so many sweets, and manage my time well.  All these things will help me lead a healthier life, and have a happier holiday season.  How do you survive this time of the year?


    Happy Holidays!




Published On: December 23, 2008