HIV and emotional wellness

Eat well, sleep enough…and exercise!

Taking good care of your body will provide a solid foundation on which to build your emotional health. This means eating a balanced and nutritious diet that gives your body and mind the fuel they need to carry out the tasks of daily life. As HIV can affect our body’s ability to take nutrition from our food, many people with HIV also find that adding vitamin and mineral supplements to their diet helps them to maintain good physical and emotional health. And, as anyone who has ever been sleep-deprived knows, getting a good night’s sleep is also key to our emotional wellness.

Exercise can also benefit our emotional health. People with HIV sometimes see their bodies as “unhealthy,” and this perception can be compounded by HIV-associated weight loss or by some side effects of our medications, such as lipodystrophy. Doing moderate amounts of exercise on a regular basis is something significant that you can do to build not just your muscles but also your emotional health.

Studies show that exercise is effective for treating mild to moderate depression and for reducing anxiety. It helps to counteract the withdrawal, inactivity and feelings of hopelessness that characterize depression and can reduce feelings of anger and nervous tension. It can improve how you feel about your physical condition, enhance your body image and improve your self-esteem. Exercising outdoors can expose you to sunlight, which can help your body synthesize vitamin D and decrease depression. Exercise also brings you into contact with other people. For the length of your walk or your yoga class, you are engaged with people who share your interest.