Self-care is vitally important for all people.
For transgender folks and other people in marginalized communities, it’s vital we know how to take care of our mental well-being, especially when navigating our complex social world, dealing with dysphoria, or simply having a tough day.
When I think of self-care, I think of the stereotypical lists that tell the reader to fill up a bathtub, light a candle, and read their favorite book as they relax into a tub of avocado-bath-bomb water. This kind of relaxing night in can be quite beneficial, but for many people, these kinds of tips often feel superficial.
Here is a list of easily applicable ways that you can take care of your mental health consistently, not just for one night of avocado-scented bliss.
1. Cut out self-deprecating humor and negative self-talk from your day-to-day.
I mean it. Many of us may casually make jokes like “I want to die,” as a way to cope or blow off steam when stressed, but these jokes, even if they’re coping mechanisms, will eventually make you think the situation is much worse than it actually is and cause your outlook to be more negative. In the same way, many of us may jokingly call ourselves stupid when we make a mistake, and over time, this all plays a big role in our self-esteem. Making small changes to how you talk about yourself and your friends will serve to shift your worldview to a far more optimistic one.
2. Keep track of the good things happening in your life.
I personally like to keep a positivity journal where I record all of the nice things that have happened to me in a week. It helps me to recall the great experiences I’ve had, the ways people have been kind to me in subtle ways, and ways in which my life is slowly improving for the better. You can draw, make lists, doodle, scrapbook – it’s a great outlet because you can be as creative as you’d like and personalize it for you!
3. Remind yourself of traits that make you feel particularly validated…
…especially in regards to your gender identity. It can be difficult to feel positive about yourself and your appearance when dysphoria is kicking you down, but writing down progress you’ve made in your transition or reminding yourself of natural masculine/feminine/neutral traits your body possesses can serve to remind you of how valid you are and help you feel more positively about your appearance.
4. Make sure you’re taking care of your body.
Binding and tucking can be uncomfortable at best and actually physically damaging at worst. In the comfort of your own home, make sure you give your body time to recover. Keep in tune with yourself and listen to what your body needs. You only have one body. (Also, be sure you’re binding safely!)
5. Surround yourself with people who want nothing but the best for you.
Cutting out toxicity from your life is an act of self-care, but so is having people around you who help you grow as a person. Your chosen family will have your best interests at heart, and can support you and your identity through good and bad days. Learn to forgive those who are genuinely trying to improve, just as you forgive yourself for not always being at the top of your game. Bathe yourself in love.