Our co-founder and CEO, Dr. Rachel Dew talks about increasing whole-person wellbeing for the LGBTQ+ community…
June is Pride Month and I wanted to weigh in and share some information as well as a few tips for those within the LGBTQ+ community (and those who are allies) on whole-person health and wellbeing for the LGBTQ+ community.
According to the Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, ‘Research suggests that LGBT(Q+) individuals face health disparities linked to societal stigma, discrimination, and denial of their civil and human rights. Discrimination against LGBT persons has been associated with high rates of psychiatric disorders,1 substance abuse,2, 3 and suicide.’ As allies, it is important that we create safe spaces and support for those within the LGBTQ+ community to heal and thrive’. For those who identify as LGBTQ+, learning additional tools to support whole-person wellbeing in a way that feels helpful, inclusive, and safe is key. Below are a few tips to increasing whole-person wellbeing for those within the LGBTQ+ community:
1. Self-Acceptance, Self-Love & Self-Care
Acceptance, unconditional love, and care are some things that many people within the LGBTQ+ community have unfortunately not been given. Growing and practicing self-acceptance, self-care and self-love is a powerful support to mental, physical, emotional, and even spiritual wellbeing. When it comes to making progress in this area it takes intentional actions, it is a process. Self-care, self-acceptance, and self-love may look different in different seasons of life. Sometimes finding your way to the next version of yourself after a huge transition is bumpy, it is supposed to be, life is a grand experiment.
Love yourself and practice unconditional acceptance of yourself right where you are. Try hanging a metaphorical ‘under construction’ sign on yourself and give yourself permission to BE IN PROCESS. This stuff takes time. Remember that you are not broken. You do not need to fix yourself or change yourself in order to be worthy of love & acceptance. Your true self is perfect. Be kind to yourself.
2. Mental & Emotional Health Support
Mental and emotional strains on the LGBTQ+ community are real and often significant. Getting a system of helpful and effective support around you (or a loved one experiencing challenges) is so important to overall wellbeing. Don’t wait until you are in crisis, create the support you need and be proactive and increasing wellbeing!
Symptoms of mental and emotional challenges can be as mild as low energy or not feeling like yourself or as severe as loss of interest in activities, problems sleeping, feeling sad or depressed most of the day, changes in appetite, social and emotional distancing (withdraws or hibernating), weight gain, restlessness, anxiety, insomnia, feelings of hopelessness or increased negative self-image and even thoughts of death or suicide.
If you are experiencing one or many of these symptoms your body and emotions are sending you a message… it is time to get support through mental health practitioners trained to diagnose and treat depression as well as practitioners who specialize in changes in diet, mindset, exercise and even other lifestyle changes that either a life coach or wellness coach can help you with.
Get tools to address mental and emotional health and wellbeing by working with a therapist, life coach or mental health practitioner – to schedule a session online with one of the practitioners on the ModiHealth platform click HERE
Get Immediate Help Now…
If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or the toll-free TTY number at 1-800-799-4TTY (4889). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or go to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.
3. Creating Safe Community & Chosen Family
Unfortunately for many LGBTQ+ the family and community that they are born into proves to be less than a safe and loving space. This is why it is even more important for those within the LGBTQ+ community to build and create their own tribe, their own chosen family, and safe community.
Create the time and space to connect with safe and accepting people in order to participate in a safe community and chosen family in a true, meaningful positive way. Do this in a way that works for you and helps you feel connected, loved, accepted, and included.
4. Honoring Your Boundaries
A yes or a no can have a significant effect on how we create what we experience in life. Often this is approached unintentionally from a place that is not rooted in self-love or honesty with oneself. When we say yes to something, we are aligning ourselves with that. A yes is also an invitation for it to be in your life and in a sense, it is agreeing with it. A person, place, thing, or situation such as a request or voiced expectation from a loved one, a diagnosis from a doctor, or even an invitation to go on a date, gives us the opportunity to be intentional about what we allow and create in our lives.
We have all heard the famous saying ‘be true to thine self’ – however, many of us don’t realize the consequences and disconnection from self we experience when we choose to say yes when our truth is a no. Boundaries are helpful in managing this effectively. Setting healthy boundaries and honoring them in a loving and kind way leads to decreased stress, which in turn supports optimal immune system function. When you are setting and honoring boundaries you are practicing self-care and self-love, not only for your emotional well-being but also for your health.
Keep in mind that setting boundaries is not listing rules for someone else to follow. Boundaries are most healthy and effective when we set them with yourself. For example, if you set a boundary with yourself to not lose your temper and blow up at loved ones, it is up to you and you alone to honor that boundary. Maybe you honor that boundary by noticing when you are approaching the end of your rope and choosing to take a walk and calm down before speaking.
I used to think boundaries were something you told people and were things that expressed what they could and could not do within a relationship with me. This could not be further from the truth, what I just described is ‘being controlling’ not ‘setting a boundary’. Boundaries are the perimeters we set for ourselves with ourselves. It’s the agreements we make in order to lovingly take care of ourselves in the world and in relationships with others.
I wish that we lived in a world where LGBTQ+ were completely accepted, treated equally, and did not have to advocate for basic human rights. Unfortunately, we are not there yet and both advocating for yourself and advocating for others is key to achieving progress.
Advocating for yourself is a critical life skill, one that will serve you in all areas; health, relationships, career, etc. Speaking your truth in love and confidence is not only something that will produce results of increased wellbeing, it is also very empowering. It is ok to say, ‘I hear what you are saying, however, it is not helpful’ or ‘That does not feel true to me’ or ‘Your opinion on my life is unimportant and should not dictate my human rights and equal treatment’ are completely acceptable responses when coming in contact with someone else projecting their beliefs, opinions, and unconscious biases at you. Ask for what you need.
6. Safe & Supportive Healthcare
Instead of healing, many healthcare institutions, doctors, hospitals, and medical information have left the LGBTQ+ community misinformed, underserved, and unwell due to inequality and unconscious biases. In order to be healthy today, we MUST all take personal responsibility for our own health and wellness, and the management of ALL its pieces. For those within the LGBTQ+ community finding safe and supportive healthcare providers is incredibly critical. To take ownership of your health means finding the right care team. Interview doctors, mental health practitioners, and other wellness practitioners to make sure that they have experience working with LGBTQ+ and will provide excellent care, understanding, and support. It is absolutely ok to fire your doctor and seek out treatment from one who honors and respects you.
At ModiHealth ALL practitioners are vetted and hired to provide safe and inclusive care for all people no matter what gender, religion, race or sexual orientation that they are. To find a practitioner to support you virtually click HERE
Dr. Rachel Dew