by Charlie Ferrusi, LGBT HealthLink Steering Committe
Last week, LGBT HealthLink hosted its first ever E-Summit. Recordings and materials from public sessions are now available online, but today our steering committee member Charlie Ferrusi takes you inside a wellness session he hosted for our steering committee members and staff.
Within the LGBTQ community, some of us work as activists, fighting to achieve LGBTQ justice. However, not all of us choose the role we play in this movement. Our gender identity and sexuality are not always things that we can switch on or off. For some of us, it is our life, and it is all we have. When our work so closely resembles our identities and lived experiences, it becomes difficult to take the time to reflect and improve our own wellbeing. Even as a public health professional, I too find it difficult to routinely practice self-care. In my eyes, the health and justice for other people is my top priority. Over time, and after a few breakdowns, I realized that there is great value in taking the time to reflect on all of the dimensions of wellness and practice self-care.
We all must take the time to disconnect, even briefly, from our day-to-day responsibilities. Wellness among LGBTQ communities is increasingly important. The various systems in place unfortunately increase the health disparities that we face. LGBTQ people are disproportionately affected by several health issues (e.g. HIV/AIDS, tobacco use, substance use). We have to be aware of our own wellness, and we must take care of ourselves and the rest of our community.
At the LGBT HealthLink, we value wellness for our staff and steering committee members. Most of us work in LGBTQ or public health fields, so naturally, many of us have trouble scheduling time to practice self-care.
For one hour during our recent E-Summit, we discussed as a small group successful wellness habits and how to put wellness into action in our own lives. We found that many of us were having trouble connecting with ourselves, and were not addressing several dimensions of wellness. We discussed our social lives, financial situations, and outlook for the future as we enter new parts of our life. It was a chance for us to connect, amidst our presentations and organizing for the E-Summit, on a more personal level. And we plan to hold each other accountable to the commitments we made.
As LGBTQ people, we need to take a break and recharge for the battle ahead. Trying to achieve LGBTQ health equity while you are overwhelmed and fatigued, is not something we recommend. We encourage you all to explore self-care and wellness in your own lives with the following mindfulness exercises.
Find more resources on wellness here, and access materials from the E-Summit on our website.