Managing stress in healthy ways may help reduce how often you have a genital herpes outbreak. Ongoing stress -- that lasting more than a week -- seems to trigger outbreaks more than any other lifestyle factor.
Here are five steps you can take to manage stress better:
Get enough sleep. The more rested you are, the better you will be able to handle stress. Most people need about eight hours of sleep every night to function normally. Some need less than that, others need more. Note how long you sleep when you don't set an alarm clock. If, for example, you go to sleep at 11 p.m. and wake up naturally and feeling well rested at 8 a.m., you probably need at least nine hours every night.
Balance your diet. Make sure your diet includes all the nutrients the body needs to keep you going strong. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, and limit the amount of sugary and fatty foods and soft drinks you consume. Also cut back on caffeine and alcohol if you tend to overindulge in those.
Exercise. Physical activity is a great stress reliever. Do something that you enjoy so that it doesn't seem like a chore. For motivation, include a friend. That could mean playing a sport such as tennis, or having a partner to exercise with at the gym or walk or jog with.
Reach out. When you're stressed, sometimes the last thing you want to do is socialize. But being with people and having fun can help you forget your troubles for a while. It's not healthy to dwell on them every minute. It's also good to talk about problems with someone who cares about you and whom you can trust -- a friend, a family member, a spouse, or even a therapist.
Relax. In addition to all the above, a few minutes of downtime does a lot of good. You've probably heard about relaxation techniques, such as yoga or electronic biofeedback, but you don't have to do those things if listening to music, knitting, or just staring out the window is your idea of a relaxing break.
Although persistent stress may lead to outbreaks, the little stressful events and daily annoyances you face do not appear to be stressful enough to trigger genital herpes symptoms.