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    As a therapist who specializes in working with trans clients, I have found that self-care can be an important aspect in creating gender euphoria and expressing your authentic self. Taking care of your mental health is a vital aspect of self-care, yet it can sometimes be overlooked in the midst of daily struggles and societal pressures. Self-care can also feel daunting since we often think of spa trips, extravagant adventures, or full day activities. But what does self-care actually mean and what can it look like? In this blog, we’ll explore some effective self-care strategies tailored specifically for transgender individuals, aimed at promoting mental well-being and resilience.

    What is self-care and why is it important?

    I like to think of self-care as the practice of taking care of your mental well-being. Each person’s practice of self-care is unique to their lived experiences and what they might need based on that. When I talk about self-care with my clients, I like to use the imagery of water in a glass where the water represents the amount of energy we have in a day to give to things. For example, we might have to pour a quarter of our water into work for the day, and maybe we have to run errands after work so there goes another quarter, and when we get home we still have to cook dinner so there goes an eighth and so on. Self-care is little ways we can add more water back into our cups throughout the day so that we don’t feel so drained.

    Self-care helps us get through the day but what else does it do? Regularly practicing self-care can help people cope with things like anxiety, depression, and stress. It can also help with focusing, relationships, and self-worth.

    spring cleaning grounding
    Self-care is little ways we can add more water back into our cups throughout the day so that we don’t feel so drained.

    What are Self-Care Strategies for Transgender Individuals?

    Affirm Your Identity:

    Embrace and affirm your gender identity every day in small or big ways. People may not always support your identity or may even go as far as to invalidate your identity, so it’s important to validate your identity for yourself. I’ve found in my work with clients that the validation they get from others feels good for a little bit, but the good feeling typically goes away pretty quickly. However, when they spend time validating themselves, the good feeling tends to stick around much longer. Affirmation can look like using your chosen name and pronouns, wearing clothes that align with your gender identity, or participating in transgender-affirming communities online or offline. The road to self validation isn’t always an easy one, especially when others are invalidating you, but the little things that we do everyday can add up to big changes over time.

    Cultivate Supportive Relationships:

    Seek out relationships with friends, family members, or peers who affirm and support your gender identity. Having a strong support system can provide a sense of belonging and validation, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness. Social supports that affirm your identity have been found to boost psychological well-being as well. Don’t hesitate to reach out for support when needed, whether it’s through a trusted friend, therapist, or support group.

    Practice Self-Compassion:

    Treat yourself with kindness and compassion, especially during challenging times. Self-compassion involves acknowledging your struggles without judgment and responding to yourself with warmth and understanding. Something my clients often find helpful is imagining what they would say to a friend if they were in the same situation. For example, if you’re experiencing higher levels of gender dysphoria, you might say something like “I know your clothes not fitting right is really frustrating and uncomfortable (acknowledging), what do you need at this moment?”.

    Seek out relationships with friends, family members, or peers who affirm and support your gender identity. Having a strong support system can provide a sense of belonging and validation, reducing feelings of isolation and loneliness.
    financial infidelity

    Set Boundaries:

    Establish healthy boundaries in your relationships and interactions to protect your mental and emotional well-being. This may involve setting limits on how much time you spend with unsupportive individuals or asserting your needs and boundaries in social situations. Learning to say no when necessary is an important aspect of self-care.

    Engage in Therapy:

    Consider seeking out therapy with a culturally competent and affirming therapist who specializes in transgender issues. LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy can provide a safe space to explore your gender identity, process emotions, and develop coping strategies for navigating challenges related to gender dysphoria, discrimination, or societal expectations.

    Nurture Your Body:

    Sometimes it can feel easier to just ignore our bodies if we’re feeling more disconnected from ourselves, however, checking in with our bodies can be really helpful in filling our cup. Take a moment to check in with your body. Have you eaten enough today, have you had enough water, did you get enough sleep, is there some type of movement that your body might need or do you need to sit still for a little while? 

    Finding Joy and Creativity:

    Make time for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, whether it’s art, music, writing, or spending time in nature. If these activities sound like too much to take on, start with smaller activities that feel doable. If you enjoy being in nature, start with sitting by a window for 5 minutes a couple times a week. Once that becomes doable, you can increase how long or how often you sit by the window. By breaking down the overall goal into smaller steps we make it feel more approachable and attainable. Engaging in creative outlets can be therapeutic and provide an opportunity for self-expression and exploration. Allow yourself to pursue your passions and interests without judgment.

    Make time for activities that bring you joy and fulfillment, whether it’s art, music, writing, or spending time in nature. If these activities sound like too much to take on, start with smaller activities that feel doable.
    group of women sitting in front of NYC skyline

     Prioritizing mental health through self-care is essential for transgender individuals who may face unique challenges related to their gender identity. I’ve found in my work with trans clients that by engaging in self-care in a combination of the ways above, they cultivate resilience and well-being in their lives. Remember that self-care is not selfish; it’s a necessary act of self-preservation and empowerment. You deserve to prioritize your mental health and well-being on your journey of self-discovery and authenticity.

    Lucas Saiter

    Lucas Saiter is a Licensed Psychotherapist at Clarity Therapy. He specializes in LGBTQIA+ Affirmative Therapy and helps individuals who are struggling with intimacy and relationship issues, coming out, self-esteem and identity concerns.
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