Developing a Queer Self-Care Routine
By Sassafras Lowrey
As a queer person, scrolling through the news and the reverberating reactions on social media can be pretty scary and overwhelming. As homophobic and transphobic soundbites and policies start making the news, it’s more important than ever to double down on self-care. Having a robust self-care routine isn’t about hiding under a bath bomb and ignoring the news. Rather, finding queer joy in self-care means prioritizing finding time to center activities that bring you joy as means of fortifying yourself and centering yourself. Prioritizing self-care can help give you the strength to celebrate your identity and be prepared to handle the harder aspect of a homophobic/transphobic culture.
What Is Self-Care?
The term “self-care” gets thrown around a lot but what does it really mean? Self-care is anything that you’re able to do to support and replenish your physical and/or emotional wellness. Self-care is about taking the time or making the time in your schedule to do things that help you to recharge. Prioritizing self-care is about helping to manage your stress level, by taking even just a few moments to do things that help you to feel healthier, better, and more connected to yourself and what is important to you. This can look like spending time on things you’re passionate about, or giving yourself permission to take a break from something that’s stressful for a few minutes. Self-care is going to look different for each individual person, but there are ways that each of us can find ways to incorporate self-care into our regular routines. Make a list of the different things you actively enjoy. This can be big things like traveling, or small things like painting your nails or getting a haircut. Try to include at least a few things that don’t cost any money. Then, keep that list somewhere you can see it. When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, or stressed, try to refer to that list of things that bring you joy and see if there might be something you can do today to provide some relief.
Do Your Own Thing:
Self-care doesn’t have to cost you anything. It can look like going to bed early so you’re well rested, or putting on your headphones, and turning up your favorite queer band’s new album and having a dance party by yourself while cleaning your room. Especially if you are newly coming into a LGBTQ+ identity or deep in personal exploration, it can feel especially meaningful to make sure that some of your self-care time is spent with people who are actively affirming and encouraging the exploration of your gender and sexuality. To add more queer self-care into your life, consider exploring art, music or books created by out LGBTQ+ identified artists where you can see your identify represented. You can even take yourself out on an affirming adventure to visit your local (if you have one) LGBTQ+ community center or attend a queer art event.
Center Queer Joy:
It sounds simple, but one of the most important aspects of self-care is finding ways to do what makes you happy. Obviously, we all need to sometimes do things we don’t enjoy but try to find moments in your day or week where even if just for a few minutes you can do some things that actively bring you joy. It can feel isolating to be an LGBTQ+ identified person in a world that privileges and centers cisgender heterosexuality. To counteract this, it can be helpful to find a way in your self-care routine to do things that celebrate your queer identity. Try to find ways to incorporate affirming and uplifting stories or messages about LGBTQ+ people. If your self-care looks like spending time reading, watching movies, listening to music try to prioritize media created by LGBTQ+ identified artists. If your self-care includes playing with makeup, or diving into a new hobby try to find ways to incorporate LGBTQ+ culture or look for LGBTQ+ creators in your hobby to follow and get inspired by.
A self-care routine doesn’t have to be something you do entirely on your own. A component of self-care can be to outreach your friend and community, and spending quality time together. Write your friends physical letters, decorate them, and send those letters through the mail. Organize an afternoon of crafts, go play mini golf, binging the same movie and texting about it, or making plans to go to Comicon or another local event together. There’s no wrong way to spend time with your friend so long as all of you are having fun. Taking care of your queer self in a worked that feel increasingly hostel can be hard. Surrounding yourself with LGBTQ+ supportive people whose lives and identities mirror your own in some way is a great way to fortify yourself and can absolutely be a form of self-care. If you’re feeling isolated and alone in your LGBTQ+ identity the anti-LGBTQ+ news can feel especially frightening. If you’re feeling isolated one thing you can do as an act of queer selfcare is to find community, peers, and social support through local (if it’s safe and possible) and online LGBTQ+ supportive spaces such as school and extracurricular youth groups.
It can be hard to start incorporating self-care into your life and routine. The good news is that a little of it can go a long way. You don’t have to have hours and hours every week to spend focusing on self-care. Just a few minutes here and there through your day or week focusing on things that bring you joy and uplifting your full self can have positive impacts. Doing things to better yourself or add joy into your life is never something you should apologize for or feel guilty about. It’s ok to prioritize self-care and make sure to carve out time in your time to do things that make you happy and give you the energy to show up in other aspects of your life, like work or school.
About the Author:
Sassafras Lowrey’s novels and nonfiction books have been honored by organizations ranging from the American Library Association to the Lambda Literary Foundation and the Dog Writers Association of America. Sassafras’ work has appeared in The New York Times, Wired and numerous other newspapers and magazines. Sassafras has taught queer writing courses and workshops at LitReactor, the NYC Center For Fiction and at colleges, conferences, and LGBTQ youth centers across the country. www.SassafrasLowrey.com