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By Kate Warrington
A roundup of healthy ways to unwind instead of worry about STIs
STI screening isn’t exactly the sexiest part of sex, but getting tested is one of the best things we can do to keep ourselves and our partners safe. At the same time, however, it can bring about a wave of anxiety and worries of what if.
Whether you’re experiencing symptoms or not, it’s completely normal to worry about your test results, especially considering some of the most common STIs can be asymptomatic, which is why it’s important to test regularly. This period of uncertainty can sometimes be the hardest part. But know that despite the stress you may feel, you’re doing the right thing.
Take a deep breath and try to relax. Here are a few healthy distractions that can help.
Netflix but hold the chill
If you’ve ever needed an excuse to throw on your coziest sweats and binge-watch your favorite show, this is it.
Whether it’s the cast of Friends or Betty White and the Golden Girls, our beloved TV characters can be a great distraction. Plus, there are psychological benefits to watching nostalgia TV, experts say. That’s right, Joey and Chandler are proven to reduce stress. Could that be any better?
Also, if “Netflix and chill” typically means less Netflix and more chill for you and your partner(s), a reminder to hold off on any sexual activity until after you’ve received your test results. It’s best to leave sex to the ladies of Sex and the City for now.
Amp up your endorphins
Go for a run. Take a walk. Attend a yoga class.
Whatever exercise you choose, physical activity can help reduce stress and improve mood. It’s all thanks to endorphins AKA the “feel-good” neurotransmitters in our brain that increase during exercise, giving us the boost we need to relax and get through the waiting game.
Blast your favorite mood-boosting playlist
What’s a song that transports you in time or to another place? You know, the kind that you can’t help but tap your foot to whenever it plays? Got it? Go put it on right now.
Not only can music be a healthy distraction but it’s also been shown to improve mental health. It can reduce symptoms of anxiety, lower our heart rate and decrease cortisol levels (the stress hormone).
So, as the song goes, put your records on, and maybe while you’re at it, bust a move or two and get those endorphins going.
Hang with your bestie (furry or human)
Whether it’s your best friend or your fluffy fur baby (bonus if it’s both), take your mind off your results by spending time with others. Besides, who’s better to distract us than the ones who can make us laugh even when we’re feeling down?
Alternatively, if you’re not up for socializing or don’t have a furry companion of your own, may I suggest scrolling through reels of other people’s pets and sending them to your bestie so you can gush about how cute @madmax_fluffyroad is together? When in doubt, search for puppies.
**Catch up on doing what you love **
Let’s face it, finding time for our hobbies can be hard. Look at this as a chance to enjoy the thing you always wish you had more time to do. Pick up a new book, practice guitar, play soccer – whatever it is that makes you feel good.
After all, why spend time worrying when you can focus that energy on doing something you love?
Talk it out
Sometimes the best way to deal with stress is to lean into it. Unfortunately, STIs continue to be stigmatized in our society and talking about them can be uncomfortable. But getting tested is a part of life and not something to be embarrassed about.
More likely than not, you know someone who understands exactly what you’re going through. Sharing your concerns with someone you trust may not only relieve stress but also help you to realize you’re not alone.
Your health is worth the wait
STI testing is crucial to keeping ourselves and our partners safe. But waiting for the results can sometimes feel like it goes on forever.
Even still, getting tested is 100 percent well worth the wait. You’ve done the right thing. Just hang in there a little bit longer.
This article provides information about sexual health, healthcare and/or related subjects. The blog content and any linked materials herein are not intended to be, and should not be construed as a substitute for, medical or healthcare advice, diagnosis or treatment. Any reader or person with a medical concern should consult with an appropriately-licensed physician or other healthcare provider. This blog is provided purely for informational purposes. The views expressed herein are not sponsored by and do not represent the opinions of TBD Health Inc.