shutterstock_1723848115_2jo0GfW..jpeg (shutterstock_1723848115.webp)The holiday season can often be a whirlwind of emotions and activities, filled with both joy and pressure. It's a time when people reconnect with family and friends, share gifts, and engage in festive events. However, amidst all the bustle and cheer, it's important to prioritize your personal well-being.

Amid the festivities, it can be easy to neglect self-care and become overwhelmed with obligations and expectations. But taking care of yourself is crucial for managing stress and enjoying the season to its fullest.

Here are some tips to help you stay safe and healthy during the holidays:

Take Care of Your Mental Health

It's easy to get caught up in the flurry of social obligations and forget to pay attention to your mental well-being. For those in marginalized groups, such as the LGBTQ+ community, this time of year can bring added feelings of isolation and stress. Here are some ways to take care of your mental health during the holidays:

  • Practice Mindfulness: Take a few moments each day to focus on your thoughts and feelings. Pay attention to the present moment and try not to get caught up in worries about the future or regrets about the past.
  • Set Boundaries: It's okay to say no if you feel overwhelmed or exhausted. Don't feel pressured to attend every event or buy expensive gifts. Remember that your well-being should come first.
  • Connect with Others: Prioritize spending time with supportive friends and family when possible, or consider joining a group or event that aligns with your interests. Surrounding yourself with positive and understanding people can help improve your mood.
  • Seek Help if Needed: If you are struggling to cope during the holidays, don't be afraid to reach out for professional help. There are many resources available that can provide support and guidance.

Protect Your Sexual Health

The holiday season can also bring an increase in sexual activity, whether it's reconnecting with a partner or meeting someone new at a festive gathering. Here are some ways to prioritize your sexual health during this time:

  • Use Protection: The use of condoms during sexual activities is a well-known and effective precautionary measure. They significantly reduce the risk of transmitting HIV and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • Communicate with Your Partner: Have open and honest communication with your partner about your sexual health. Discuss your STI statuses and methods of protection before engaging in any sexual activity.
  • Get Tested: If you are sexually active, regularly getting tested for HIV and other STIs is essential for your sexual health. Many clinics offer free or low-cost testing services.

Another way to protect your sexual health, no matter the time of year, is by using pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) for effective HIV prevention. A PrEP prescription is highly recommended for gay and bisexual men, as well as anyone else who is at a high risk of contracting HIV, like injection drug users and those who are in recovery.

PrEP2Me, an initiative from Central Outreach Wellness Center in Pittsburgh, PA, is dedicated to making PrEP affordable and accessible to everyone who needs it. As caretakers and members of the LGBTQ+ community, our mission is to break down the barriers that prevent people from accessing the healthcare they need.

Sticking to Your PrEP Medication Schedule

Staying committed to your PrEP medication schedule is absolutely essential, even during the bustling holiday season. When taken every day, as prescribed, oral PrEP provides a high level of protection against HIV. However, if doses are frequently missed, your protection level significantly decreases.

As the holiday season rolls around with its changing schedules and plans, it can be easy to forget to take your medication. But there are ways to ensure you don't miss a dose:

  • Set Reminders: Set daily reminders or use a daily alarm on your phone that will prompt you to take your PrEP pill.
  • Pair with a Daily Activity: Try taking your PrEP pill with a consistent daily activity, like brushing your teeth in the morning or having your first coffee of the day.
  • Use a Pillbox: A pillbox can help you keep track of whether you've taken your medication each day. It's also a helpful visual reminder to take your PrEP.
  • Pack Extra Medication: If you're going to be traveling during the holidays, make sure to pack extra medication in case of any delays or unexpected changes in plans.

Remember, it's okay to take a break from the festivities to ensure you're taking care of your health. If you need to step away during festivities or social gatherings to take your medication, don't hesitate to do so. Your health should always come first.

How to Access PrEP2Me's Services

At PrEP2Me, we're dedicated to helping patients across Pennsylvania and Ohio access PrEP in a convenient, affordable, and judgment-free environment. Most health insurance plans cover PrEP, but even for those without insurance, our services come at absolutely no out-of-pocket cost to you.

Getting started with PrEP2Me is easy! In just 4 steps, you can be on your way to protecting yourself against HIV:

  1. Fill Out Our Online Form: Start by completing our easy-to-fill-out online form. Be sure to have your driver's license handy!
  2. Take an At-Home Test: We'll send you an at-home kit to screen for STIs before starting PrEP. These pain-free lab tests can be performed in just 5 minutes.
  3. Schedule With Us: Our team will reach out to schedule your first telePrEP appointment as soon as possible. If you'd prefer to meet with someone in person, you can also select an in-person appointment at one of our Central Outreach Wellness Center locations.
  4. Receive Your Medication: In just 3-5 days after we prescribe PrEP, your medication will discreetly arrive at your door!

Don't let the holiday season distract you from taking care of yourself. With PrEP2Me, you can easily access the medication and support you need to stay healthy and protected during this busy time of year.

Happy Holidays!

At PrEP2Me, we make it easy to get started with your PrEP prescription. Don't wait any longer to take control of your sexual health and reduce your risk of HIV. Get started with PrEP2Me today!