In a time that is so oversaturated with mass produced and manufactured joy, it’s easy for a lot of people to feel ungrounded, sad, and anxious. The collaborative powers of capitalism, colonialism, and anti-semitism tend to climax at this time of the year, and what they offer us in return is a very narrow and rigid idea of what it means to be happy and successful, and what concepts like family look like. As queer people, our holidays might not look like the hallmark model, nor should they. Our lives, the celebrations we choose to have or to not have, our families, and our communities can be and look like a beautiful variety. They and we truly are whatever we want them to be.
While we take pride in this, sometimes the unique circumstances of the queer experience can hurt, or leave us feeling isolated in uncomfortable situations.
Around this time of year there is a lot of talk of self-care whirling around the internet, but not nearly enough conversation on how to ground oneself in a volatile world, or how to care for our communities at large. We need to care for ourselves so we can care for eachother. We want to offer some real tools to ground ourselves this holiday season for specific circumstances that we encounter as queer people in a heteronormative, cisnormative world.
Something important to remember: none of these grounding strategies are replacements for mental health care. However, we hope that in moments of hardship, these tools can make a difference. Remember no matter how you’re feeling right now; you are loved and worthy of comfort and care.
Let’s get into it.
Going “home for the holidays” can be scary. Queer and trans folks face additional pressures when it comes to returning to a childhood home, interacting with extended family, or even just briefly losing touch with the safety of their community. These can include (but are not limited to): being distanced or isolated from family, not being out to family, being out but not accepted by family, not having identity acknowledged, not having their pronouns respected, or going home for the first time after transitioning.
We’ve compiled a small collection of trauma-informed care practices that can be done quickly, easily, and by yourself.
Head, Heart, Stomach
This one is simple. Find a quiet place to sit, close your eyes, and start to focus on your breath. Begin by placing your hands on your head, breathe and repeat an affirmation. Next, place your hands on your heart, breathe and repeat an affirmation. Finally, place your hands on your stomach, breathe and repeat an affirmation.
The affirmations can be anything you want them to be. An example is, “I am safe, I am loved, I am who I am.”
This practice can be done anywhere, but it might help to find a quiet and secluded place. Begin by wrapping your arms around your chest, and start to tap your right shoulder, and then your left, and so on. While you tap back and forth, you can observe thoughts, visualize a happy place, or simply tune into your breath.
Little Joys Count
This practice can be done anywhere and for any length of time. To being, label each finger with one of the five senses (you can either do this with a pen, or just keep track of which finger corresponds to which sense in your mind). Put your fingers down one at a time, and name a little joy that you experience with each sense as you do so. For example, if your thumb is labeled touch, you could think the way my pet feels. If your index finger is labeled taste, you could thing the perfect cup of coffee, and so on.
For this practice, you’ll need a piece of paper, the notes app, or anywhere that you can write a list. Begin by writing the following categories:
Go through the list, adding as many self-care strategies that you can think of that correspond to the categories. Even if you can’t do any of them at the moment, it can be helpful to visualize for the future.
We hope these strategies offer some solace. If you want more tools and training, visit Family Healer TV. These practices were inspired by the Trauma Toolbox, a free virtual trauma-informed care course by Ron Huxley, L.M.F.T.