A Queer Student’s Guide to Self-Care

“Carve out and claim the time to care for yourself and kindle your own fire.” – Amy Ippoliti

My dear queer children,

This is the time of the semester when you’re probably most stressed. You may have a few days off for a break, and then as soon as you get back, you’ll have countless different assignments, projects, papers, and finals due. I know that when I get back to school on Sunday, I’ll have three different papers due within the next few days. In light of how ridiculously busy these next few weeks will be, I decided to make a post on how to practice self-care. There are a two areas of self-care that I’ll go over: physical and mental care.

First, let’s consider physical self-care. At this point in the year, you may have broken your promise to go to the gym every few days, or some other beginning-of-the-school-year promise in order to maintain your physical health. Right now, if you’re pressed for time and energy, the thought of taking care of your health may be even more stressful. However, I strongly recommend that you consider going for a walk or run, or performing some other physical activity, for the sake of your mental health. There has been research that shows exercising can actually increase your productivity by making you less stressed and supporting your cognitive abilities. If you’ve ever had writer’s block or just felt that all your productivity has hit a wall, then taking an hour, or even just thirty minutes, to let out your stress will help you overcome those mental obstacles.

Also, please do not skip meals for the sake of trying to get more work done. There’s a popular notion going around that skipping meals and staying up late to get more work done is “heroic.” There is nothing heroic about not sleeping or eating. These habits will only hurt you more and prevent you from doing the work that you need to get done. My darlings, please eat and sleep to take care of your body. The undergraduate degree that you are working towards will not matter if there is no person left use that degree. If you think you will struggle with eating meals during this time of year, pre-make some meals to eat throughout your day, such as a sandwich or a salad. You can do this by investing in some plastic food storage containers and filling them in your campus dining hall. If you have access to a microwave or a handheld water heater, and if you’re able to invest in a carton of eggs, you can make scrambled, poached, or boiled eggs to eat for breakfast or throughout your day.

My last little bit of advice for you in terms of physical self-care is to drink water and stay hydrated. You need water for muscular and cardiovascular functions and cleansing your body from toxins. Also, it’ll help you focus and prevent you from succumbing to any sickness that may be going around on your campus.

Now, let’s consider mental self-care. These days it may feel that your brain is running a marathon from the moment you wake up to the moment you lay in bed and fall asleep. When you reach the weekend, you may feel that you can’t rest because you have so much on your mind. If this is true for you, I invite you to take a deep breath right now.

I know that on top of all of this, the stress of your identity and your struggles with your sexuality and/or gender identity may also be on your mind. I just want you to know that all that you are experiencing and feeling is valid. Despite all that may be going on around you, you are important, and you matter.

To take care of your mental health, surround yourself with people who genuinely care about you and who will kindle your own fire. Engage with the communities that you have integrated yourself in and draw upon the comfort and care that they can give you. Oftentimes we get caught up in consumerism to take care of ourselves. While buying a massage or expensive candy or drink may be nice, they can only fulfill you so much. However, sharing your burdens with those in your communities will help you deal with the stress and give you the strength to continue on. This isn’t to say that you should greedily capitalize on those in your communities for your own gain. But inherently, your community is there to help sustain you and provide you with a space to rest.

Also, when you take breaks, instead of scrolling through social media (which could possibly be a good mental break), maybe try journaling, meditating, deep breathing techniques, calling a loved one, or some other activity that takes your mind off your stress and helps you re-energize. If you keep thinking about your classes and other obligations during your breaks, you will continue to stress out and not give yourself the time and energy to kindle your fire. Thus, it’s so important to carve out time and space for meaningful rest and self-care.

That’s all for this blog post. As always, please let me know if you would like my to write on a specific topic. I am always a resource for you.

Until next time,

Love, Your Gay Godparent,

Joe

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