By Lauren Presutti
We all struggle at times. Life is complicated, messy, and unpredictable. No one is immune to challenges and we have to be mindful of the unique experiences of each individual person. We also want to be mindful of the unique struggles of minority groups. Holding a minority identity can feel very isolating at times. Being different can sometimes cause feelings of being misunderstood, underrepresented, and small in the larger context of the dominant culture. At River Oaks Psychology, we want to create space for all minorities to feel heard, valued, and understood, including the LGBTQIA+ community. Let’s talk about some self-care strategies that can be particularly helpful for this population.
Find your safe spaces. It’s so incredibly draining to constantly conceal your sexual orientation or gender identity. You shouldn’t have to hide who you are! We understand that you may have to protect yourself in toxic settings, but we want you to find the places where you can be your genuine self. You deserve to live your life as YOU. Finding your safe spaces is a critical part of self-care.
Unfollow negative media influences. Avoid social media or news outlets that may be harmful to your mental health. The world is full of judgment and there is no need to further expose yourself to toxicity online. Instead, follow outlets that celebrate the LGBTQIA+ community and self-expression. Find your favorite people to follow on Instagram or Tik-Tok. Life is too short for negative influences, so instead get inspired by positive sources and manifest empowerment.
Express yourself authentically. Wear whatever makes you feel comfortable and confident, no matter if it’s a certain color, style, pattern, or supposedly for a particular sex. Reject gender stereotypes and dress yourself however you feel best represents you. Engage in expressive arts like painting, drawing, singing, playing music, writing poetry, theater performances, or dance. Self-expression is highly therapeutic as it combines psychology and creativity to promote emotional growth and healing.
Remember you are not alone. Connect with others, read stories and blogs online, follow advocates, volunteer with a local LGBTQIA+ organization, or join a support group for members of this minority group. Connecting with others who truly understand what you’re going through can help guard against anxiety, depression, and other mental health symptoms. It helps to alleviate loneliness and also enhances our feelings of being cared for, which is a foundational piece of self-care.
Prioritize stress-relief activities. Many LGBTQIA+ individuals are in a constant state of stress due to discrimination in the community, encountering authorities who fail to protect LGBTQIA+ rights, hearing about hate crimes, or feeling a bit alienated due to the lack of representation. To release some of your triggered stress, it’s so important to know what helps you de-stress. Try breathing exercises, meditation, exercising, taking a hot shower, getting more sleep, reconnecting with nature, yoga, calming music, journaling, or watching your favorite television shows or movies.
Learn about history and rights. Sometimes the best way to empower yourself as a minority is to learn about the history and rights of your community. Find a cozy spot with your laptop and read a little about LGBTQIA+ milestones in history. This can help provide context for how we got to where we are today and bring us a deeper understanding of the issues we still face in society today. It might inspire you to become a louder advocate or at least help you feel more connected to something bigger than yourself.
Take your mental health seriously. Being a member of a minority group can be exhausting. How are you doing? Remember that you are a beautiful soul who deserves to feel worthy and empowered throughout your whole life. You deserve to have a voice and take up space in the world. If you are experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, relationship struggles, grief, discrimination, family conflicts, or any other number of concerns, talking with a therapist can make a huge difference. We want you to know that we will always support you. We are committed to creating safe, authentic spaces for all people and we would be honored to work with you. There is nothing too big or too small to talk about in therapy.