No matter your gender or sexual orientation, your physical, mental, and spiritual experiences are all interconnected. But living as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, asexual, or aromantic (LGBTQIA+) person can mean you develop a relationship with your mind, body, and spirit in a unique and unexpected way. It can also mean you need to get creative with common practices or find new ones that suit you.

The mind-body-spirit connection is like queerness—everyone experiences it differently. When your identity falls outside the societal norm, your body notices. It changes how you look at the world, how you operate in it, and how you take care of yourself. It can also mean adopting a new perspective and forging your own path as you learn how your mind, body, and soul fit together.

What Affects the Queer Mind-Body-Spirit Connection?

For many in the LGBTQIA+ community, we try to connect with a body and mind that doesn’t match what we’re told it should. It can feel like you’re failing at something that seems easy for others. But the beauty of the mind-body-soul connection is that you can form your own, and your gender identity and sexuality can be as much a part of it as you want.

Identity Exploration and Visibility

As queer and transgender people, our bodies and minds often feel like they operate differently—and they do. We question and explore our gender and sexuality differently than cisgender, heterosexual people, and it often takes longer for us to fully understand them.

A 2023 study showed how deeply rejection of LGBTQIA+ identities and chronic stress can impact our mental and physical health. Many of us didn’t grow up seeing ourselves in media, and we didn’t all receive acceptance from the people around us. Even those of us who did often asked ourselves why we felt this way and spent time thinking about what makes our minds and bodies feel different.

Of course, not every queer and trans person has the same experience with this kind of exploration. Still, it contributes to how we understand the relationship between each level of ourselves.

Neurodivergence and Disability

Neurodivergencies, like ADHD and autism, are more common in LGBTQIA+ communities, and so is disability. Transgender people are twice as likely to develop a disability by age 55 compared to cisgender people.

When you have these physical and mental variations, it takes some trial and error to understand and accommodate these needs. As we learn to listen to messages from ourselves at every level, we learn to adopt habits and practices that benefit us. You can also use what you learn to build a more thoughtful connection between your body, mind, and spirit.

Gender Dysphoria

Gender dysphoria often creates a disconnect for transgender people who don’t feel like they belong in their own bodies. A transgender woman may be raised male because she was assigned a male gender at birth.

She may spend years—decades, even—trying to connect with a body that doesn’t match how she feels. She may not even know there are other people like her or resources to help her feel at home in her body. Understanding how gender dysphoria feels and the impact it has helps improve our connection to our bodies and find resources that ease those feelings

Chosen Family

Sometimes, external love helps us connect with ourselves, too. Building relationships with other LGBTQIA+ people and allies not only creates community but strengthens our bond with ourselves. When we know we’re not alone in how we’re feeling, we can focus on forming habits and creating practices that build our mind-body-spirit relationship, too.

Queering Common Wellness Practices

If a doctor gives you medicine you’re allergic to, it makes you sick when you’re already not feeling well. The same can apply when you do wellness practices that may work for others but don’t work for you.

Many LGBTQIA+ people find joy and healing in things like yoga, meditation, journaling, and other popular practices. But we may need to change things to fit our minds and bodies so that we can enrich our spirits fully.

That can mean integrating a queer- and trans-centered approach to these practices in various ways. If you’re looking for a different approach to connecting with yourself, here are a few things that can improve queer and trans people’s relationships with our minds, bodies, and souls (and, yes, they can work for you, even if you’re straight and cisgender!):

  • Somatic exercises
  • Repetitive motor tasks
  • Find community
  • Hormone replacement therapy and surgery

Somatic Exercises

LGBTQIA+ people often have individual, social, and systemic trauma. Somatic exercises operate on the idea that trauma is stored in the body and that certain gentle movements can help release it.

Somatic movements are more accessible than many movement-based practices like yoga and exercise programs. You can do them lying down, and they’re not meant to strain your body. Even imagining yourself doing them can have a positive effect.

Since these exercises work on both your mind and body, you might feel an emotional release during or after you do them. It can surprise you at first, and you might shake or cry. That’s the physical release of emotional and mental trauma that your body has held onto—sometimes for years or decades.

The Workout Witch has some somatics for beginners on her YouTube channel and blog, or you can start with a quick 15-minute somatics routine. But you can find tons of different ways to do somatic exercises, depending on your comfort and ability. Somatics can look like:

  • Rocking your hips side to side while lying on your stomach
  • Lying in bed with your knees bent and moving your legs slowly from side to side
  • Lying on your back and raising your arm, rotating it, and stretching it upward

Repetitive Motor Tasks

When you think of meditation, do you think of sitting on the floor in silence with your eyes closed? That’s one way to do it, but it can be so much more. Meditative activities and repetitive movements let our minds and bodies relax and flow. That can mean:

  • Sorting items
  • Drawing
  • Cooking
  • Going for a walk
  • Knitting or crocheting
  • Stimming or fidgeting

Walking, fidgeting, and stimming, short for self-stimulatory behavior, give you a physical and rhythmic way to self-soothe and release emotional energy. Some types of stimming and fidgeting can help with emotional regulation, especially if you’re neurodivergent. When you’re in a place where you can gently rock back and forth, bounce your leg, or play with fidget toys, it can give you space to calm down and increase your focus.

Even if you choose an artistic activity like drawing or crocheting, let go of the need to be good at it. You can crochet a chain and unravel it to do it again later. Doodle on paper. These activities let your mind wander, like meditation. But they also give you something to ground yourself—a task without the pressure of productivity.

Find Community

Sometimes, you can’t improve the relationship between your mind, body, and spirit on your own. Joining queer and trans community spaces or having chosen family can give you the space to form a relationship with yourself. It creates a support network and improves the health of LGBTQIA+ people.

Finding community with other queer and transgender people either in person or online shows us we’re not alone. No person is an island, and we feel better when we see common experiences and share in them with others. When we feel seen, heard, and visible, it improves our relationship with ourselves as we internalize positive messages.

Hormone Replacement Therapy and Surgery

Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) and surgery aren’t right for everyone. But for some transgender and non-binary folks who experience gender dysphoria, going on HRT can help them present the way they feel. Likewise, gender-affirming surgeries, like top surgery, can help them connect with themselves at every level when their bodies match their gender identity.

Think about it—if you wear clothes that don’t feel like they suit you, you feel less confident and comfortable. You may not want to look in the mirror, or you cringe when people comment on your appearance (even positively). That feeling intensifies when it stems from living in a body that doesn’t feel like it fits you.

Medical care like this can be the first step toward a better relationship between the body and soul. When your body fits who you know you are internally, you become open to exploring it as part of your identity.

Welcome Queerness into Wellness

Queer and transgender people often find connection through each other and personal exploration. Practices like yoga, journaling, going to therapy, and other routine wellness habits can support our well-being, but sometimes, our relationship with ourselves starts at an even more basic level. When we explore our identities and open up to creative wellness practices, we expand them to make the mind-body-spirit connection more inclusive for everyone.