April is Minority Health Month. So we invite you to be “selfish” and to fill your cup first. Research on thriving and flourishing tells us there are at least six key areas of well-being worth investing in. They include your self, community, sufficiency, pleasure, relief, and purpose.
Knowing yourself, accepting yourself, self-love, and self-compassion are building blocks for self-preservation. This world bombards us with the notion that we should be white, thin(ish), rich, “the best,” tough, sexy, straight… It’s a lot. You might have to look online to find fat Black femme fam. You might choose to work with a therapist to unravel how repeated rejection has impacted you. Whatever your path, the journey to self-love is important.
Laughter, satisfaction, bliss, orgasm, delight, and contentment help quiet hardships. People can find joy through everything from completing weekend chores to using a planner, to making love, dancing, kiki-ing with friends or being alone.
We all need support. It is critical to be seen, accepted, desired, and celebrated for who you are as you walk in your truth. The folks who show up for your success help refill your cup and help you stay well. Don’t accept anything less.
Stress infiltrates our lives in countless ways. Sometimes we don’t even know it’s there. It steals time. Finding ways to reduce stress is part of our fundamental work. Moving around or breathing deeply can help. It can help to talk about it, so consider a therapist. Also, sleep to heal your body and brain. Turn off when you can. Remember relief. You can’t pour from an empty cup.
Research on flourishing suggests that activating a sense of purpose can protect against stress and depression. If you’re passionate about something, make it a focus in your life. Notably, research on Black LGBT resilience suggests that social activism is one place we reclaim hope. There are many ways to engage: everything from volunteering at a freedom school to marching to making sandwiches for marchers to disrupting “the academy” with Blaqueer scholarship. Whatever mode you choose, moving purposefully against the status quo can contribute to well-being.
A key element of thriving is having the resources required to meet your needs. Black precarity–the constant state of un/under employment or financial instability– is nothing new. It’s as American as guns. Add intersectionality by gender, sexuality, disability, etc. and it gets harder (nod to Crenshaw). In the face of this, self-care as yoga retreats and all-organic food can be beyond reach for many, but self-care can also be regular sleep, a multivitamin, or walking in sunshine. It can be food prepping to save money, taking a hot shower, or watching a feel-good show. You might ask for a work-from-home day once a week. There are many possibilities. Look here, here, and here for more ideas.
We joke about therapy being for white people, like bland food and taxidermy. It seems self-indulgent. It requires time, financial resources, and other privileges many of us don’t have. The forces making it difficult for Black LGBTQ+/SGL people to access quality and affordable housing, employment opportunities, advancement, and essential resources are the reasons we need to find ways to heal, flourish, and thrive. If you decide therapy is something you’d like to explore, consider: The National Queer and Trans Therapists of Color Network, the Therapist Resource Directoryor TalkSpace. This April and beyond, take the time to nourish yourself so that you can show up – both for yourself and others. Schedule quality time alone or with friends or supportive family. Seek whatever spiritual, professional, or other help you can benefit from. And please remember that you are necessary. This walk is tough, but you are not alone.