Self-care is all about taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. It's about doing things that make you feel good and help you be the best version of yourself.
As a trans person, self-care is especially important. The experience of being trans in this world can be difficult, especially when you are first grappling with your gender identity. For some trans folks, feelings of mind/body incongruence can feel overwhelming at times. For others, it's society's lack of acceptance that is most painful. However, by practicing self-care, you can empower yourself to be the person you want to be and to live the life you want to live.
In this article, we will be discussing 7 tips for self-care that can help you embrace and love your trans-self. We will be talking about things like practicing self-compassion, taking a break from social media, and of course indulging in a little pampering.
TIP 1: Practice self-compassion and positive self-talk
It’s really easy to normalize negative self-talk. So many of us have done it most our lives without even realizing it. To break this habit, a good place to start is just to try noticing when your internal critic is talking. Everybody’s internal critic sounds a little different, but here are some things you might hear in your head:
"You’ll never be able to do that."
"Don’t be so stupid.”
"You’re too fat/thin, tall/short, etc."
These sort of phrases are ones we’d never say to a friend or someone we love. In order to cultivate self-love, we need to treat ourselves with the same care and compassion as we would a good friend. If you catch yourselves saying phrases like these, flip them on their head. Answer back with something loving and compassionate. For example if you hear, "You’re not cut out for this," trying saying, "I am stronger than I know."
You can also say nice things to yourself at random times throughout your day. Tell yourself that you are worthy of love and that you are valid. If you make a mistake, don't beat yourself up about it. Everybody makes mistakes. It's just part of being human. Instead, learn from your errors and move on.
TIP 2. Take a break from screens and social media
Social media can be a great way to feel less alone when we are isolated. For lots of Trans and Non-Binary folks, social media is the only place we get to connect with others like us. But social media can also hurt us. The polished lives we see on social media can make us feel bad about ourselves and our own lives. Even just seeing other people celebrate moments that feel far away or out of reach for you can be really painful. This can be anything from an official name change to a T anniversary, to an announcement of a top surgery date. But as the old saying goes - comparisons are odious.
Taking a break from screens and social media can help you to refocus on yourself and what is important to you. It can also help you to feel more present in your life and to be more in tune with your thoughts and feelings.
A couple years ago, I muted or unfollowed almost everyone in my feed who regularly shares gym, diet, or exercise posts. It's not that I don't love or care for these folks, but consuming these types of post just didn't feel good for me. If these types of posts trigger your negative self talk, feel free to do the same - even if some of those accounts belong to good friends. Choosing to opt out to take care of yourself doesn't make you a bad friend. In fact, when you're feeling good about yourself, it's easier to show up for others - which you can do by engaging directly with a friend instead of their social post.
TIP 3. Connect with Your Community
Just because it's called self-care doesn't mean you have to be alone to do it. Sometimes self-care means surrounding yourself with people who understand and support you. This can mean scheduling hang time with a close friend, or calling someone who shows you they're always in your corner. If you don't have folks like these in your life, you can try joining a support group or online community.
LGBTQ Centers can be a great place to look as many of these have regularly programmed groups and activities. If you don't live near an LGBTQ center, we recommend looking for online support groups of people with similar interests or identities. Reddit is hit or miss, but we have seen lots of very supportive smaller groups there. And one of our favorite spots for community is the Gender Reveal Podcast Slack channel. To join, shoot them an email here. It's a great space to try out a new name, have others respect your pronouns, or just chat about your week. Who knows - with tons of active members, you might even connect someone who lives in your area.
TIP 4. Take yourself out on a date
Are your friends busy? Trying taking yourself out on a date. You can go see a movie, visit a museum, or try a new restaurant. The key is to do something that you enjoy and that makes you feel good. It's important to make time for yourself, even if you're not in a relationship or can't find a companion at the moment. Just you and yourself, enjoying your own company.
TIP 5. Indulge in a little pampering
Indulging in a little pampering can be a great way to show yourself a little love. You can take a relaxing bath, get a massage, or give yourself a manicure. You can also try creating a spa-like experience in your own home without spending a lot of money. Here are a few ideas:
- Light some candles to create a warm and relaxing ambiance.
- Use essential oils or Epsom salt to create a soothing and aromatic bath.
- Play some calming music to set the mood.
- Treat yourself to a bath bomb or bubble bath. This one is especially good if you’re feeling dysphoric about your body. The bubbles will feel good and block your body from view. Covering mirrors with a sheet can also work wonders.
- Exfoliate your skin with a homemade sugar scrub.
- Apply a nourishing face mask or hair treatment while you soak.
- Relax and unwind by reading a book or magazine, or simply closing your eyes and taking some deep breaths.
Find what works for you and make a habit of it. That body of yours is worth a little pampering.
TIP 6. Write yourself a love letter or write down all of your positive qualities
You might be rolling your eyes right now, but don't knock it til you try it! Writing a love letter to yourself is a great way to remind yourself of all the things that you love about yourself. Writing down all of your positive qualities can also be helpful, especially when you're feeling down or when you're having a hard time accepting yourself. Remembering that you have good qualities can help to boost your self-esteem and your self-confidence.
If you try this and you're feeling stuck, ask a close friend to help get you started. Keep a running list and look at it whenever you feel you need a reminder.
TIP 7. Do something that makes you feel good about yourself
Doing something that makes you feel good about yourself is an important part of self-care. It can be something as simple as exercising or going for a walk, or something more challenging, such as completing a project you've been meaning to finish or learning a new skill. Whatever it is, make sure it's something that makes you feel good and accomplished.
Self-care is crucial for your well-being. It's about taking care of yourself mentally, emotionally, and physically. By following the tips in this article, you can empower yourself to embrace and love yourself for who you are.
Remember to prioritize self-care, and make time for yourself. Don't be afraid to try new things and to experiment with different self-care practices to find what works for you.
There are many resources available for support and further information on self-care for transgender individuals, such as online communities, support groups, and counseling services. Don't hesitate to reach out for help if you need it!
Have a great self-care tip for trans folks? Drop it in the comments below!