You’ve been working for months without a day off. You’ve got responsibilities to your family, your friends, your pets, and yourself, and after a while, it gets overwhelming. Learning how to do self-care as a queer person takes some trial and error—especially because the problem often goes deeper than what a spa day can fix.

Don’t get me wrong. A spa day is super relaxing, if you’re into that. But sometimes, you need something more sustainable…and cheaper. Let’s talk about what else you can do to reduce your stress, improve your mental health, and leave room for joy in your life while honoring your identity.

Here, Queer, and Burnt Out

Burnout has become the norm for people of every identity, and we all need space to care for ourselves and be cared for. But when you’re part of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, or asexual (LGBTQIA+) community, regular stress gets compounded as you factor in things like:

  • Lack of gender-affirming healthcare
  • Discrimination against queer and transgender identities
  • Unsupportive family or community
  • Multiple marginalized identities that deal with racism, ableism, and more

Queer and transgender people often have to advocate for their identities, and that in itself leads to burnout, as well as long-term physical and mental health struggles. Self-care practices don’t fix these problems, but they can help us individually as we continue to navigate the conditions we currently live in.

Why We Need Queer Self-Care

You can’t care for yourself properly while ignoring your queer identity. Your queerness is your own, and each person experiences it differently. You need people who understand what you’re going through, how you feel, and what it means for your experience.

According to the Human Rights Campaign, about one-third of LGBTQ+ people self-reported a disability in 2020, including half of the survey’s transgender participants. If you have certain physical limitations, you might need to adjust typical practices and find new alternatives that fit your personal needs.

When it comes to self-care, you’re the priority. If someone else’s methods don’t work for you, it’s more important to find what helps you relax and regain your energy.

What Does Queering Self-Care Look Like?

Queering self-care practices benefits everyone and opens new doors for what self-care looks like. When LGBTQIA+ people have higher rates of mental health struggles while using fewer mental health resources, having accessible self-care creates options. Here are a few ideas for how to get started:

  • Find space for queer joy
  • Create art
  • Lean on your community
  • Do the not-so-fun stuff
  • Connect with your mind and body

Find Space for Queer Joy

There’s beauty in your identity, and you deserve to celebrate it. This part of self-care is a little non-specific because everyone has their own version of it. Sometimes, it’s dressing in an outfit that makes you feel cute. Or connecting with nature. Or hanging out in queer community spaces. Or baking.

Whatever makes you feel at home in your body and able to enjoy life counts as queer joy. These don’t have to be big things—they’re just things that make you happy.

Create Art

Before I get into this one, let go of the need to be good at it. Do it bad, even. Art is a form of connection with yourself and others. If you have one medium you like, let yourself sink into it and create without a plan. Your art is up to you, and you can express yourself with:

  • Drawing
  • Writing
  • Music
  • Sculpting
  • Metalwork
  • Fiber arts
  • Crafts

Take away the limits as much as possible. And if you’re not sure where to start, try getting some friends together for an art night, joining an art class, or looking online for ideas

Lean on Your Community

Sometimes, caring for yourself means knowing when to ask others for support. A hangout can do wonders for your mood and mental health. Plus, many of us are there for others but have a hard time asking for help when we need it. Remember that most of the time, your loved ones want to help you, and it’s okay if you can’t do all your self-care by yourself.

If you don’t have an in-person support system, sometimes reaching out to online friends can help. Many queer people have found their chosen family online through social media or LGBTQIA+ support groups, even before they found an in-person queer community.

Do the Not-So-Fun Stuff

Light a candle, take a bubble bath, do skin care, build a blanket fort…Self-care isn’t all fun and cozy comforts. Caring for yourself also means doing the tasks you’ve been dreading. These tasks might feel hard to start, but you’ll almost always feel better after them:

  • Take a shower
  • Do the dishes
  • Fold the laundry
  • Take a walk
  • Pick up clutter
  • Throw out old food in the fridge
  • Go to the grocery store (and get a little treat)

Your space reflects your inner landscape. So, cleaning up and caring for your space and body can improve your mental and physical wellness. If you don’t feel up to doing a huge task, just do a little. It doesn’t have to be perfect—you just have to start.

 

 

Lean on Your Community

Sometimes, caring for yourself means knowing when to ask others for support. A hangout can do wonders for your mood and mental health. Plus, many of us are there for others but have a hard time asking for help when we need it. Remember that most of the time, your loved ones want to help you, and it’s okay if you can’t do all your self-care by yourself.

If you don’t have an in-person support system, sometimes reaching out to online friends can help. Many queer people have found their chosen family online through social media or LGBTQIA+ support groups, even before they found an in-person queer community.

Do the Not-So-Fun Stuff

Light a candle, take a bubble bath, do skin care, build a blanket fort…Self-care isn’t all fun and cozy comforts. Caring for yourself also means doing the tasks you’ve been dreading. These tasks might feel hard to start, but you’ll almost always feel better after them:

  • Take a shower
  • Do the dishes
  • Fold the laundry
  • Take a walk
  • Pick up clutter
  • Throw out old food in the fridge
  • Go to the grocery store (and get a little treat)

Your space reflects your inner landscape. So, cleaning up and caring for your space and body can improve your mental and physical wellness. If you don’t feel up to doing a huge task, just do a little. It doesn’t have to be perfect—you just have to start.

Connect with Your Mind and Body

If you’ve struggled with stress for a while, chances are you feel it in your body, too. It can come in the form of aches, fatigue, vertigo, headaches, stomachaches, and other physical symptoms. Connecting with your mind, body, and spirit can help you relax and put you in tune with your needs as you keep up the practice. It can look like:

  • Meditation
  • Gentle physical movement, like yoga
  • Repetitive motor tasks
  • Creating art
  • Somatic exercises

You can find different exercises, guided meditations, and other ideas that suit your ability or skill level. And while you don’t have to make a habit of doing any of these practices, they can help you maintain a self-care routine.

Keep Your Mind and Body Running

Think of self-care as maintenance. You don’t have to “earn” it because you need it to keep functioning. If you’re not sure where to start—because, let’s face it, so many of us neglect ourselves—don’t worry. You’re allowed to experiment. No one can pour from an empty cup, so make sure you fill yours.

Author

Eli Wood (he/they) is a queer and genderqueer content writer and content strategist. He writes about sexual health and wellness and works to help people feel more comfortable talking about uncomfortable topics, especially within the LGBTQIA+ community. They also create strategic, LGBTQIA+ inclusive content and craft content strategies to help businesses reach their ideal audiences. You can find more of his work on their website.