Self-Care

last updated

Created By Rainbow Health Initiative

Engaging in self-advocacy in pursuit of culturally responsive health care as a queer or transgender identified person is both stressful and rewarding. Going to a care provider can be a vulnerable experience, as it often requires physical and emotional interaction with staff who are trained to use gendered language and discuss relationships in a heteronormative and monogamous value based context.

Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or identifying outside of the gender binary, can create invisibility which leads to unmet needs. For example; a trip to the doctor’s office for LGBTQ folks is not simply just that. It is made up of leaving one’s home after deciding what to wear, taking public transit or needing to ask for a ride. It could include being passed up by cabs, or even using the last of your money for a bus ride where you end up facing derogatory comments. And, finally, you have to wait in a line at the office to talk to a front desk person who may not see you as you exist but instead read descriptors from a page. This slow build-up of micro-aggressions can create fear and add to the daily traumas many of us experience based on our gender identity, sexual orientation and intersecting identities. Recognizing this, it is important to set yourself up for success by creating healing spaces you can use to recharge before and after seeking care.

Voices of Health survey respondents say that once they have had a traumatic or negative experience at the hands of provider or staff, they often do not return for follow up care. Multiple experiences of discrimination can wear down resilience. Self-care can be an important tool in helping address these negative experiences. It can ease impacts of multiple experiences of discrimination that can wear down resilience. This is integral to success, and important to maintaining a sense of balance while engaging in difficult discussions and situations.

Acts of self-care can include anything from taking breaks or naps, to blocking out time to do a specific activity that you like. For example: coloring, cooking, baking, kayaking, bike riding, meditation, or reading. Anything that enhances your personal well-being. The use of free websites on either web or smartphone based applications to help with self-care management may be particularly helpful. Technology based applications of self-care can be accessed anywhere you have access to the Internet, and some apps even offer free daily check-ins so you can map your progress. Your local library or community center are great places to check for computer and Internet accessibility if you yourself do not have access to a computer.

Self-Care Suggestions

  • Create a self-care kit in a bag or shoe box filled with your favorite items such as coloring books, packaged snacks, movies, books, recipes, or crafts
  • Keep a stock of dry shampoo and baby wipes to feel clean if you feel like taking a shower isn’t possible
  • Have a small amount of savings set aside to treat yourself to your favorite lunch after an uncomfortable appointment, as a reward
  • Create verbal cues to give yourself reaffirmation, which create positive thought patterns (pickthebrain.com/blog/7-steps-to-positive-self-talk)
  • Plan ahead to wear an outfit that makes you feel great on a day that you know will be particularly challenging to set you up for success

Resources

gruntle.me

A free website full of cute videos and images of animals. No sign-up or login required, no gendered language on the website.

rainymood.com

A website that you can set to full-screen on your monitor that shows rain running down a window while playing soft noises of a rainstorm and distant thunder. No sign-up or login required, no gendered language on the website.

T2 Mood Tracker

An app that allows you to track your different levels of anxiety, stress or other self-defined daily feelings. It will also create graphs to track your mood and levels of different stressors. Available for iPhone and iPad users here. Available for Android users here. No sign-up or login required (beyond downloading the app), no gendered language on the app.

Self-help for Anxiety Management

An app that allows you to rate your different levels of anxiety and use self-help to gain control. Available for iPhone users here. Available for Android users here. Developed by the University of the West of England. No sign-up or login required (beyond downloading the app), no gendered language on the app. However, there is a “Social Cloud” feature that does ask for you to create a username and password so that you can talk to other app users.

White Noise Lite Relax Sleep Better

An app that plays different looped relaxing noises to listen to such as rain, white noise, or ocean sounds. Available for iPhone users here. Available for Android users here. No sign-up or login required (beyond downloading the app), no gendered language on the app.