If You Ain’t Gonna Love Yourself!

The Importance of Looking After Your Own Wellbeing

It’s winter, it’s getting cold and now we are bracing ourselves for the coldest spell on record…again! As if that isn’t enough, there is a barrage of news about our country teetering on a knife edge in the latest Brexit debacle, and the constant worrying news about the supposed leader of the civilised world silently shaving away more rights for our community every day. I start to feel an uncharacteristic sense of doom. It seems that I’m not the only one.

In the biggest surveys of homosexuals in England, researchers from Cambridge University found that 11 per cent of gay men and 15 per cent of bisexual men reported problems, compared to five per cent of heterosexual men. Why I ask myself? Research offers many suggestions, ranging from childhood memories of homophobic bullying, to the challenges of finding love on the gay scene. Who knows? What I do know is that wellbeing and self-care is important. Could you do with looking after yourself a bit more? Here’s a few tried and tested tricks to start you off.

gay well being
1.Pick-up on the positives

Some days it feels like everything has gone wrong and we just can’t do anything right. I have done it a thousand times, you can’t help but fixate on the negatives. It seems simple but you have to pick up on what has gone well. There is always something! It doesn’t have to be much…someone you helped out at work, something kind you said to someone, the snappy reply that you didn’t give. Write these things down. Look at them and let your mind do the rest. It isn’t as easy as it sounds but persevere and see what happened to your mood.

2. Find out about growth mindsets, its science!

This is something that changed my life; the day I found out that our skills and abilities aren’t predetermined. “My brain just doesn’t work like that” isn’t a thing. Very simply put, our brains are full of synoptic links. These are little pathways that are made every time our brain does something. If you do it over and over again the pathway strengthens and is easier to find (just like a well-trodden path). Basically, if we put our mind to it, we can do ANYTHING!

This tip is about language. Be careful what you say and how you react. Accept feedback as a gift; tell yourself that you cando that. “I can’t do that” becomes “I can’t do thatyet”.

If you are interested in finding out more then go and check out Carol Dweck. Dr Dweck has done years of work on mindsets and there is plenty of TED talks and podcast where she explains what it’s all about. Go forward and grow that mind!

3. Make someone feel good

This article is all about self-care, so I’m not saying go out on a mission to cheer up the local checkout girl (although why not!). Think about someone you care about and think what it is that you love about them. You probably think this about them all the time, but I expect you never tell them…so tell them! Not only will this make them feel good, but the gratitude you will get in return will be a real pick-me-up. Invest in those important relationships and feel the results.

4. Check your surroundings

You need to know who to avoid when you aren’t feeling on top of the world. There are certain people (and you know who I mean) that may have a big heart, but also like to have a big moan. If you are feeling a bit venerable then you definitely don’t need to be hanging out with Debbie downer for the day. It’s incredible how effected we are by other people’s moods, so be mindful just whose vibe you are absorbing.

5. Get your hands on a healthy high

When you get that afternoon slump you might normally bug Brenda for brew. Cut out the caffeine and sugar highs and start reaching for essential oils instead.

Rosemary is said to bring mental clarity and peppermint is great for energising. Simply drip a few drops in your hand and rub. Inhale the magic concoction and see how you feel.

6. Book yourself in

Think about what little treats really last made you feel good (and I am not talking about the things that you think you should be doing and that make you look good on IG). What is it that you love to do when no one is watching? Whatever it is, book it in the diary and stick to it. You wouldn’t let others down, so do yourself the same favour.

7. Breathe Deeply

Now, not everyone is the crossed leg humming type I know, but there is plenty of research that explores the naturally positive effects of simply taking a deep breath. Ancient Chinese medicine advocates the important of breath to heal ailments and promote wellbeing. Close your eyes and concentrate on filling your lungs. See how you feel!

8. Get a little hands-on

The benefits of a hug have been well proven. Apparently, research tells us that there is a plethora of benefits ranging from making us more patient, to strengthening our immune system. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need science to tell me that; a hug from the right person at the right time can put me right back on track. Some days when I get home I don’t even want to talk, I just want that squeeze from my boy.

9. Positive affirmations

It’s not easy being a minority. Sometimes it can be a little wearing if you feel like you have to prove yourself more than the next person. But remember when you are a minority, you are that little bit more unique and therefore a little bit more special. After all, the Great British public just voted Alan Turing the most influential person of the 20th Century on the BBC’s Icons Programme. Let’s not forget that this is the man that was thrown in jail for gross indecency 60 odd years ago.

Remind yourself it’s great to be you!

Who can help if you just can’t pick yourself up?

Speak to your GP

Consider talking to your GP. Some doctors may know what help is available locally and can help you decide which treatment is best for you.

When discussing your situation, try to be as honest as possible with them so they can find the best type of support for you.

Support groups

These organisations offer mental health advice, support and services, including helplines, for LGBT people.

Albert Kennedy Trust

The trust supports young LGBT people between the ages of 16 and 25 years old. They can help with finding specialist LGBT mental health services.

Gendered Intelligence

The organisation works with the trans community, especially young people, and those who affect trans lives.

Imaan

Imaan is a support group for LGBT Muslims, providing a safe space to share experiences, with factsheets and links to relevant services.

LGBT Consortium

The consortium develops and supports LGBT groups and projects around the country. Use the site’s directory to find local mental health services.