Relax! 6 Ways to Stay Calm While Waiting for STD Results
Congrats! You took steps to taking control of your sexual health! You’ve knocked out one of the main steps but now face a secondary, often forgotten step… the wait.
Depending on the complexity of your test, you may get your results back as soon as 24-48 hours. If you make it to day three and still haven’t heard anything, bear in mind that things happen and this doesn’t always relate to your test results.
Reasons why it might be taking longer than expected for STDcheck.com to return results
- Some tests take longer. If you ordered the full panel, there may be partial results but the panel is incomplete.
- There may be delays at the lab.
- Possible weather issues. For example, Hurricane Harvey had an impactful delay on labs in Houston, TX.
- Technology is a great thing, but machines might go down and force a technician to start the test over.
- There may be an overload of samples.
- In the case of an initial positive, they run a retest (a differential) assuring false-positives aren’t sent out.
- A delay in chlamydia and gonorrhea tests could be due to a lack of materials to sample.
- Some require the sample to get sent out to a second lab with more specialized equipment.
Anxiety, restlessness, stress…
These emotions, as you might know, have a direct link to executing daily tasks. Lorie Eber, a trained Wellness Coach, summarized a Yale research study “which found that prolonged stress causes degeneration in the area of the brain responsible for self-control.” Too much stress makes it difficult to get all the things you need to get done completed.
Now, a little stress isn’t bad. In fact, it’s normal, and we perform wonderfully under the right amount of it. It’s when it’s over the top that causes damage to our minds and bodies, causing symptoms similar to those of HIV and other health issues.
Luckily, you can relax!
Stay calm and be brave! Start by accepting that you’re worried and that it’s normal. It’s a survival mechanism, but sometimes we blow the possibilities way out of proportion when things take a little longer than expected.
The following six tips are here to help! Since everyone is unique, I recommend trying a few of these activities to help find what suits you best.
Ways to Stay Calm
#1. Exercise to Ease Restlessness in Your Brain
When stress attacks, our brain fires excitatory neurons indicate this anxious emotion. In order for this feeling to go away, it needs the neurotransmitter GABA to essentially “hush” these excited neurons.
Dr. Gould, director of the Gould Lab at Princeton, researched the difference in the brains of running mice vs. sedentary mice. Gould concluded that the hippocampus of runners was vastly different from that of the sedentary mice.
Both experienced stress but the runners relaxed and recuperated faster due to the increased release of GABA.
Gould notes it was with consistent exercise that the active mice experienced higher levels of GABA in response to the stress.
“…it’s not a huge stretch,” she concludes, “to suggest that the hippocampi of active people might be less susceptible to certain undesirable aspects of stress than those of sedentary people. -The Journal of Neuroscience
It is clear then that when your body feels better, so does your mind. Whether you’re a regular gym goer or not, exercise can benefit you now! Make time to focus on your body’s health and keep your mind off of your test results.
- If you don’t typically work out, a walk can also help clear your mind. Psychologists have found that a ten-minute walk is as effective as a 45-minute workout when it comes to combating anxiety and depression.Do you have a good reference for this? I would refer to the article because it sounds a little unrealistic.
- Take advantage of the restlessness you may be feeling and get on the elliptical or treadmill.
- While exercising, think about all the things that are going right and visualize yourself still doing great years from now.
- Yoga is famous for helping center you and calm the mind.
- After you exercise, utilize breathing techniques to slow your heart rate helping those excited neurons in your brain relax.
#2 Friends – Your Immediate Support System
The problem in being alone between taking the test and getting the results is there’s only “me, myself, and I” in the room. Right now, all three personas are deeply invested in figuring out the results but have no choice other than to wait.
While working out will help for some time, and it’s great for general health, what happens after the gym? You can’t spend all 24-48 hours wasting away on the bicycle.
This is where you call on your friends for help!
A study by researchers Adams, Santo, and Bukowski has shown that after a negative experience, children who had their best friends present had lower levels of cortisol, the stress hormone, than those who were without their best friends.
Friends are a support system. Surround yourself with the best ones you have and stay away from the toxic ones. Find ones you’re comfortable sharing your situation with and surround yourself with them as you wait. Other people usually can see a positive that you don’t because they aren’t as emotionally invested as you are.
On top of helping you see the silver lining, they’ll make you laugh. How many times has laughing made you feel more stressed out? It would be counter-intuitive, right? Grenville Kleiser, a notable inspirational book author, has written on the benefits of laughter:
“Good humor is a tonic for mind and body. It is the best antidote for anxiety and depression. It is a business asset. It attracts and keeps friends. It lightens human burdens. It is the direct route to serenity and contentment.” – Kleiser
- Let your friend treat you to a surprise day where they decide all the activities. They know what makes you tick sometimes more than you do.
- Do something you know you love doing with that friend. If you guys like to occasionally paint absolutely nothing award-winning in the comfort of your apartment, do that!
- Do something with your friends that you guys have been saying you will try “one day”… today is that day! Usually trying new things keeps your focus more since you’re trying to grasp the new concept.
#3 Stop Looking Up Information on “what if” Inclinations
Unfortunately, if you can’t get friends over due to busy schedules, you’re left alone. While normally this would be fine, most likely you’re having a million questions and doubts running through your mind, leaving you no choice but to turn to the internet for answers.
Who isn’t guilty of resorting to that panicked research and research loop until you’ve found enough sources that either confirm your suspicions or worsen the most worst case of worst case scenarios? While knowledge is power, this isn’t what I recommend doing.
You’re going to find answers to one part of your question but it’ll end up planting a million other tiny seeds in your brain. Those seeds are going to grow into suspicions that’ll nag and nag until they have you on the internet once again.
Some of these seeds might whisper things like, what if they get it wrong, what if I’m positive, what if I got something from that time I touched that gross part of the gas station toilet, etc.
Those sneaky “what if’s” can run through your mind for hours on end. That’s okay if it happens here and there, but if you continue to entertain the negative ideas they’ll only put a damper on your day.
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- Pretend you’re an internet addict for a bit and limit your usage as if you’re in rehab.
- Spend time in a computer-less room, or hide your laptop in a drawer.
- Every time you can’t resist the urge to search, search, search, set a timer to 5 minutes and keep yourself to it!
- If you have to gather information for work or school, go to the library and use books or magazines for research. The presence of other people at the library can distract your brain from creating more terrifying “what if” scenarios.
- These rules apply for the internet on your phone too! Turning off the data on your phone might help deter your impulses to look stuff up.
#4 Add Gratitude to that Attitude
Let’s say you’ve hit the gym, your friends are busy, you’ve banned yourself from the internet, and yet the test is still in the forefront of your brain. Here’s another tip for you:
Sit down and write about what has gone right in your life and how that helped you get to a good place, whether in your job, college career, relationship, etc.; it’ll help reframe your perspective.
Eber also states that writing down things you’re grateful for,
“It isn’t merely the “right” thing to do. It also improves your mood, because it reduces the stress hormone cortisol by 23%. Research conducted at the University of California, found that people who worked daily to cultivate an attitude of gratitude experienced improved mood, energy, and physical well-being.”
The re-framed perspective can shed light on a possible future you hadn’t imagined. Remember the last time you were this anxious and things weren’t the greatest, but you figured it out!
While writing about things you’re grateful for won’t make you grateful, it’s a good start.
It’s good to acknowledge you’re bummed out! You shouldn’t be fake-happy but, by hitting your struggle with the backdrop of gratitude, you may realize life isn’t so bleak.
- Find authentic things that you’re grateful for. Your new job. It’s your favorite season right now. Having a loving and supportive family.
- Even day-to-day things will help you remember that joyous events happen all the time. That funny dog video you saw on Facebook made you laugh, your food was delivered a lot faster than you expected, etc.
- Squash negative self-talk! It helps to write what you perceive as imperfections down but don’t stop there! Shred them, ball them up, burn them, throw them away, whatever is most satisfying to you!
#5 Lower Your Caffeine Intake
Caffeine alone probably won’t make you too nervous or anxious, but because you’re waiting for your results it poses a risk of increasing your anxiety. The increased heart rate coupled with your racing thoughts won’t do you any good.
You don’t have quit caffeine for the two – three days you wait for your results, but lowering your intake wouldn’t hurt.
- If you’re a coffee drinker, either try decaf coffee or black tea with a low caffeine level. Those who heavily consume caffeine should
- If you’re a soda drinker, try a decaffeinated version of your favorite soft drink.
#6 How to Sleep While You Wait
Despite your best efforts, you might not be able to control your thoughts and get them to leave you alone.
An obvious solution is to “shut off your brain and relax”, however, the road to a good night’s rest starts earlier than you might think.
- Stop caffeine intake by noon. It can stay in your system 8-14 hours after consumption, depending on your metabolism, and therefore affect your sleep on top of stress.
- Try getting to bed around 1-2 hours earlier to give your body more time to de-stress.
- About 30-minutes before you brush your teeth and prep for bed, try drinking a caffeine-free tea like chamomile, sleepytime, or passionflower.
- Light some candles with relaxing scents such as lavender, chamomile, or sandalwood.
- Try taking a melatonin or two.
- Take a relaxing bath with Epsom salts that have eucalyptus or lavender scents to help induce sleep.
- Read a chapter or until you’re exhausted.
- Remove TVs from the bedroom. The University of Michigan conducted a study investigating the effects of binge viewing on sleep. They concluded that due to the media exposure there is increased cognitive arousal and therefore results in poorer sleep quality, increased fatigue and more symptoms of insomnia. Taking the television of the bedroom will help lower this exposure.
- Put the phone on the other side of the room to keep you from late night researching or burdening your eyes with that tiny screen in the dark.
How STDcheck.com will help in cases of positive results
It’ll all be over soon and if you test positive for something, we’ll connect you with the right doctors to treat your STD until it’s cured.
In the case of HIV and/or herpes, our doctors will provide quality consultation and prescribe antiviral medication to aid in the maintenance of your standard of living and quality of life.
Know that you will be notified as soon the lab results are available to you. You can look on your account or call into 1-800-456-2323 and someone will be glad to help.
Remember, your results are not shared with anyone! Not even your health insurance so it won’t get on your medical records. Your mom, boss, neighbor, whoever isn’t going to find out.
Try combining some tips as well! For example, while you’re in the bath practice gratitude or go for a walk/jog with a friend. Don’t let the uncertainty hang over your head and stop you.
You’re not alone and no STD is a death sentence. It is possible to live a normal life after being positive and people do.
Medically Reviewed by Colleen Ryan, MD on September 11, 2018
Author: Alexa Amador
Alexa graduated from a university in Atlanta with a B.A. in English and joined the STDcheck.com team in 2018. Before joining, she marketed and developed her own blog while working freelance for leading businesses. Having a robust skill set of research, writing, and editing has kept her busy and driven throughout both her academic and professional careers. Alexa became entangled in the sexual health business after coming from not only "abstinence-only" schooling but where the reproductive anatomy chapter was literally torn from her textbook. She realized how irresponsible it is for people to encourage ignorance about sexual health, especially to younger audiences, and so her passion for becoming part of the solution and educating the masses was born. When not writing for Exposed, Alexa enjoys taking vacations in the mountains with a good book and her dog, Nova.