12 LGBTQ+ creatives on what self care means to them

It goes without saying that self care is important. But what does “self care” even mean? As of late, it’s def become one of those terms that get tossed around so much that it’s lost its meaning — beyond, you know, face masks, and wine-and-Netflix in a lush, bath-bomb-filled tub. (Although, those pampering yourself when you need it is a solid start!) At the core of “self care” is the idea of checking in with and nurturing yourself, to repair and preserve your mental health. Taking it a step further, by definition, “self care” is the practice of taking an ”active role in protecting one's own well-being and happiness,” particularly during periods of stress.

Self-care is necessary for us to function. It’s especially so in a world structured in a way (and that way rhymes with “apitalism”) where we’re encouraged to run ourselves ragged in the name of productivity’. It’s especially so in a world designed in a way (and that way rhymes with “eteronormativity”) to punish you if you stray from the neat little confines of sexuality, gender, and gender expression. To put yourself first, particularly as an LGBTQ+ person and as one in the creative industry, is a radical act of self-love. So, that being said, here are TK queer creatives on how they nurture their well-being, in a world that’s whole-heartedly looking to keep them down.

1. Isabella Amarga, musician

“Self care to me can be anything. Some days, it’s forcing myself out of bed to go out and be social. Sometimes, it’s about giving myself the extra time to just lay and not be bothered by anything or anyone. At the end of the day, self care is whatever my heart needs in the moment to make me feel good and loved by me.”

2. Carolyn Saxton, Cherry Magazine writer and content-creator

“My most important self care tip: Communicate how you’re feeling and what you need to those closest to you. Knowing you have the support you need, if you need it — or alone time, without having to explain it — is so comforting.”

3. Lashelle Ramirez, photographer

“My self-care days start with showering in complete darkness, cutting my nails, and meditating, while water drips on the floor and my face mask hardens. I make sure my candle is lit and the vibe is tranquil, ‘cause it’s about physically looking good and mentally good.”

4. Remi Sbardella, diversity and inclusion advocate @myjojofr on Instagram

“My self-care routine consists of spending time with my partner and cooking with him. Another thing I like to do is take some alone time and take care of my body, whether it's doing cardio while listening to great dance music, or doing a face mask and taking a bath!”

5. Jonathan Chau, writer and creative

“Take time to have small indulgences especially when going through a stressful time. Eat a bag of your favorite snacks or put on a face mask. Whatever you like to do (those are just two of mine) do something for yourself, no matter how minor it may be.”

6. Juanie from @juaniescloset, stylist + model

“Self care means taking time to think for myself. When I have bad thoughts, I write them down instead of taking them out on others. Showering — it gives me time to just not think of anything and let loose. Surrounding myself with friends. Listening to some of my favorite artists and ocean wave sounds. Turning my phone off, curling up in my sheets, and watching some TV shows. Playing dress up. Organizing my closet or anything else. Scrolling through shopping apps, and adding and deleting things in my wishlist, and checking in with old friends!”

7. Sharde Abre, painter, photographer, and designer

“I really recommend art therapy. It’s a beautiful alternative to the usual ‘drinking, smoking, etc.’ bad habits ppl normally gravitate toward. Painting has brought a lot of healing and calm energy into my life. So, find a form of art that speaks to you, whether it’s drawing stick figures or sculpting.”

8. Hannah Schneider, writer and comedian

“I love to cook up a tried-and-true recipe and even share it with my roommates. It makes me feel human in a way I can’t describe. And then, I also love honor whenever I feel ready to leave something social — and feel no remorse about doing so.”

9. Natalie Esparza, communications professional and wellness advocate

Natalie Esparza /  Instagram

Natalie Esparza / Instagram

“Something I’ve been learning is that self-care isn’t a privilege, but a requirement for living a healthy life. I’ve realized self-care isn’t just a single hot bath once a week/month, but it’s a daily ritualistic feeding of my life energy. It’s a stacked combination of basic hygiene, social skills, emotion regulation, spirituality, adventure, giving back to my community, and making sure my work is filled with purpose.

And it’s not some luxury to be done after a stressful week when you finally get around to it: It’s the foundation for building optimal mental health. I know the second I start feeling lethargic, depressed, angry, or anxious, my lack of a self-care routine is often to blame.”

10. Joshua Myers, writer and content creator

“Something that I am still learning to do is celebrate myself. Whether it’s my own birthday or my successes with work, or just that I woke up and cleaned my room, I have actually begun acknowledging and celebrating all the moments when I did something good. A literal or metaphorical pat on the back, buying yourself a gift, giving yourself a compliment — the point is to love yourself and be kind to yourself.” — The art of 'struggling my best'

11. Hannah Beckham, fashion and beauty content creator

“Go out if you’re a social person, but find yourself afraid to say yes to social events because of money, guilt, or other personal reasons. Go out once in awhile! Head out to that movie you’ve been dying to see, grab dinner out with friends, or take a night out on the town — surrounding yourself with people who make you happy will really pay off.” — Here’s how to build a self-care routine on a food stamp budget

12. Giancarlos Kunhardt, photographer and designer

“Self care for me means an absolute visit to the gym. It was initially a place for me to work on the aesthetic of my body, but it really means more than that to me now. It’s a lifestyle, a stress-buster, and a way to ease anxiety. I love to sweat away life’s stressors, while of course simultaneously working on perfecting this *ss and these arms.

Meal prepping: also a newly discovered form of self care for me. It reminds me of the importance of self-discipline and saving money. I also know exactly what I am consuming! In the long run, it really affects everything else in my life. Positive food choices = clean energy for the body and the way I navigate throughout the days. It all gives me a sense of clarity and less worries about draining my checking account.

Lastly, the one I should actually do more of and the one I struggle the most with: implementing positive reinforcement techniques into my life. Believing and telling myself that I am worth it, capable, and deserving of anything I put my mind to. I am a perfectionist and so it is like I am in a constant battle with myself searching for my ‘ideal self.’ It’s a hard concept to grasp and put into exact words, because it stems from deep-rooted channels of the mind. However, I’m learning to not battle with myself, but with the world. Making lemonade when life literally gives me lemons. At one point before, I was just keeping the lemons in my pocket. F*ck that!” 🍒