Spring Cleaning for LGBTQ+ Mental Health
It is finally Spring! Spring is the time we deep clean our homes, gather all that we no longer need or use, and expunge the clutter that holds us back.
At this time of year, is it not also appropriate to spring clean our queer minds as well? Please allow me to suggest some mental “spring cleaning” ideas:
1. Out with old pain, in with new love
Research has shown that chronically elevated levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, can actually be hazardous to your long-term mental and physical health. Spring is a great time to say a final goodbye to painful situations or relationships that might be dragging you down, and to embrace a new love – an activity (volunteering for a Pride celebration for June?), a friendship, or just increasing your self-love!
2. Help another, help yourself
Nothing helps to clear your mind of your own problems as helping others around you. You may not realize the impact that you might be able to have on younger generations by sharing your experience and knowledge. Local organizations like the Hetrick Martin Institute, the Trevor Project, or Big Brothers Big Sisters all offer a wide range of volunteer opportunities.
3. Decrease your substance use now
LGBT adolescents and adults are at a greatly increased risk for substance use and abuse. Perhaps you have been having one or two more drinks than you feel you should, or you’ve engaged in a riskier behavior than you would have if you hadn’t been using a substance. Treating that pain in healthier ways can have far-reaching effects in your life.
4. Improve healthy eating/exercise habits
Lesbian women have higher rates of obesity than heterosexuals, contributing to our higher rates of heart disease, diabetes, and some cancers. Starting small with a change in cooking habits, increasing quality and quantity of exercise, and if you have a spouse or partner, inspiring them to do the same can make a huge difference in the long run.
5. Decrease the parenting pressure
Let’s face it, LGBT parents have a lot of pressure to be “successful” parents raising healthy “typically developing” children. We put pressure on ourselves and on our children to show the world that our families are just as successful as any others. We definitely don’t need to waste our mental energy judging the parenting choices of others or allowing the judgment of others to cloud our own parenting practices.
6. Re-charge your sex life
See#5. The job, the kids, the mortgage, and the daily grind can all take the spark out of even the wildest bedrooms. That being said, for most of us, having great sex is an essential part of achieving mental health. Spring would be a great time to find something, umm, seasonal to increase the fun that you are having, either with a partner or without. And what could be more seasonal than a Rabbit?
I encourage you to think about how you can take that first step to spring clean your mind and improve your mental health and outlook. You, your family, and the queer community will all benefit from a happier, healthier you!