The holidays can be a tough time for the LGBTQ+ community. Heading home for the holidays can mean uncomfortable conversations, triggering situations, and feeling unaccepted. While many of us are already cancelling our holiday travel plans due to COVID-19, many queer folks don't ever go home.
During the holidays, studies show LGBTQ+ people suffer from higher rates of stress, anxiety, and depression. Everyone's situation and choices are different, but no one should feel alone during holidays--or ever. This year, as many queer folks chose (or don't) to not travel home for the holidays, we want to make sure you have the tools to take care of yourself. In this blog, we're going to outline several tips to help you get through the holidays as best you can, wherever you are.
Mental health tips for the holidays
As previously mentioned, staying away from home can be hard, whether it's your choice or not. But, there are ways to make the best out of your situation, and tips to care for yourself.
1.Be with your community.
So many people move to New York City from other places and for a ton of different reasons. Connect with your queer friends who are also staying in the area. Your friends sometimes become your family, especially in the LGBTQ+ community. Be sure to continue to practice social distancing, stay in your bubble, and get tested if need be.
2. Get outside of your head.
A great way to set aside those heavy feelings, or even work through them is to do something nice for someone else in need. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or coat drive will help you focus on something other than your issues. And, it is equally rewarding to help someone who may be less fortunate than you and will remind you to be grateful what you do have.
3. Maintain your daily routine.
During the holidays, we tend to indulge ourselves in eating and drinking in excess--fall out of our usual routine. It's important to find a balance, and make some room for holiday treats. But keeping a healthy diet, getting enough sleep, and exercising regularly will help you stay grounded. This could be especially helpful if you're away from family.
4. Use a mantra of self-love.
Mantras are an effective way to boost self-esteem and acceptance. That can feel like a challenge when you're avoiding home because you don't feel either of those by your family. A mantra, which is a short phrase that you believe in (or want to believe in) is something like this: "I accept myself and am perfect the way I am." You can repeat this mantra out loud, silently, or even write it down. Whatever it is, you owe it to yourself to embrace who you are.
5. Recognize your triggers & have a plan in place.
It can be really hard to watch your family get together with you, especially on social media. If you're not traveling home, you may even Facetime or Zoom with your family, which could also be triggering. To help avoid triggering moments, take a minute to think about what your triggers are. Then, plan ahead what you can do to care for yourself if you do get triggered. A few ideas are going out for a walk, squeezing a favorite pillow, or calling a friend.
6. Check in with yourself.
Take a moment to really ask yourself and reflect on how you're feeling. Think about how your feeling and why. Sometimes actively processing and recognizing your feelings can help you move forward from them. You can write it down in a journal, too.
Another point of concern during the holidays is not being able to get the help you need. Many clinics and doctors will be closed during some days, and that can also induce anxiety. However, there are still resources for those who need them. There are 24/7 hotlines anyone can call, chat, or text with.
- NYC Well: The hotline is available 24/7, and you can call, chat, or text with someone. To do so, call 888-692-9355.
- LGBT National Hotline: To talk, call 888-843-4564.
- Trans Lifeline: To talk, call 877-565-8860.
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255
How Apicha CHC can help you
Need someone to talk to? At Apicha CHC, we offer short-term behavioral health services. If you'd like to talk to one of our mental health counselors, you can make an appointment here.