LGBTQ+ Mental Health & the Holidays

There are two camps during the holiday season: bows, ribbons, and tinsel and all your favorite things. OR…just no. Holidays can be particularly trying for people in the LGBTQ+ community. Often, we are forced to spend time with people who may not be accepting and affirming. We are pushed into molding ourselves into a version that is easier for others to be around.

How do we navigate the holiday season, and beyond, in a way that honors our being and acknowledges the stress and anxiety?

Clyde Lipp, MS, LCPC, mental health clinician at The Project, shares the following tips:

  1. Be present. Try not to focus too much on the past or on the future. Find gratitude in the here and now.
  2. Be connected. Spend time connecting with the people and animals, places, and things in your life that matter. Connect with the people that lift you up and replenish your soul. Be with the animals that give you unconditional love and joy. Spend time in the places that give you a sense of peace. On the other side of connection, is isolation. For some, isolation is a protective barrier and COVID has added an additional layer of isolation over the last two years. Balance your need for isolation with the benefits of connection.
  3. Be mindful. We all have our own internal thermometer for stress and anxiety. Check in with yourself periodically to access where you are. The higher your temperature is, the more reactive you are and the less objective you become. If you find your temperature rising, take some deep breathes or talk yourself down with reassuring words.
  4. Acknowledge. Grief and loss are often times magnified during this time of the year. Give yourself those moments to grieve and acknowledge the loss but be mindful to not let it derail your thoughts into a darker place.
  5. Practice gratitude. Take time to really think about the things that you are most grateful for in your life. Who and what are you most grateful for? What strengths do you have today because of your past experiences? What memories do you cherish?

As we ease past the stress of the holidays, in the waning days of December, many of us reflect on the year past in anticipation of the year coming. We catalogue our failures and make new resolutions.

But instead of making goals around the failures of the previous year or resolutions around the things we see as wrong in ourselves, let’s do things that enhance our lives, replenish our souls, and move us forward to be the very best version of ourselves.

  1. Spend more time with the people that love you for who you are. The people that show up for you and celebrate you.
  2. Make space in your life for more queer people. For people who are different than you. For people that you wouldn’t naturally gravitate toward. Get to know them. You’ll find your life will be enriched.
  3. Practice radical self-love. Take time to shut out the noisy world and let your mind and soul rest. Do the things that you’ve been putting off. Set boundaries with the people who are toxic. Remind yourself that you are not required to have a meaningful relationship with people that are harmful to you.
  4. Honor your body. Work to unlearn diet culture and reframe your relationship with food and nourishment.
  5. Take a stand against things like homophobia, transphobia, racism or sexism. Commit to having those difficult conversations with your friends and family. Do the internal work to root out your own internal biases.
  6. Teach people how to be with you. Show them how you want the relationship to look and feel.
  7. Take time for yourself on a regular basis. Do the things that give you joy. Accept that spending time on yourself is not selfish, it’s integral to your survival and ability to flourish.
  8. Learn more about LGBTQ+ culture and history. Learn more about your heritage, the parts that make you, you.
  9. Be you. Find the ways in your life that you can safely be your most authentic self.

So, here’s to another year! May you find a small slice of peace dipped in excitement and rolled in growth.

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