March 23rd marks the beginning of National LGBTQI+ Health Week around the world. These days, we’re all well aware of how our health goes beyond just physical ailments - our mental health and well-being should be considered just as much as anything else.
We’ve put together a few little tips to help you keep safe, healthy and calm for the coming week (and forever more)...
1. Tested recently? Now's the perfect time to address that!
Waiting times for appointments can be an off-putting factor in getting tested in Malta, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be testing yourself regularly anyway.
If not for the safety of those you may interact with, do it for the peace of mind in knowing you’re looking after your own sexual health and you’ll soon feel a weight off of your shoulders.
Pick up the phone and make an appointment for the future - when we’re all finally allowed outside again.
2. Free your mind, lace up those shoes and get moving!
You don’t need to be running marathons to help keep your body in tune with the world, just a little fresh air can do wonders for both body and mind.
And don’t use the excuse of Malta’s air quality not being the best - there are plenty of routes around the island that allow for clearer air than Sliema’s Promenade (though if that’s where you’re headed then enjoy the Spring-time sea air).
Even if it’s just a walk to the shop to grab some more chocolate - you deserve it, your body needs it and will thank for the effort in due course. Just be sure to limit your outside time tonecessary necessary food runs (chocolate is always necessary, but so is bread and milk - choose wisely).
3. Log off, you'll be okay for a day.
Whether it’s a Grindr trawl at 3am or a midday Tinder-swipe session on your lunch break at work, we all know the dangers of falling down an online K-hole.
Why not try limiting your time online with certain apps (we’re looking at you, Instagram) and seeing if you can notice a difference in your mood and perspective? Trust us, you'll come to enjoy your new outlook.
Besides, you don’t want to be letting any old Trader Joe from the dirty outside into your clean, sanitised home at the moment...
4. Check yourself out - not just for sexual health!
We queers are an odd bunch of mixed and mashed genetics, much like the rest of the world.
These odd quirks we all have make us uniquely ourselves and are the key to every one of our own numerous identities. That doesn’t mean you should be shirking the work of your immune system, metabolism or other highly important bodily functions.
Been feeling unwell more than usual recently? Don’t let flu season fool you - our bodies have this amazing natural alarm system. Whatever you call it - the nagging voice in the back of your head - it may have been trying to tell you something for a while. There's a reason only we can hear it. Listen to it.
If you’ve been intending to get a blood test done but keep putting it off, take time out of this week to make the call to your GP and discuss how you’re feeling. Even if you’re sure there’s nothing wrong, there’s no harm in double-checking you’re okay on the inside - literally.
5. Speaking of things on the inside, check in with yourself this week.
Don’t think just because your vitals are A-OK that everything else is. This week is a reminder for us all about every aspect of our health. It's something that can affect every branch of our communities. Be sure to take some time this week for yourself and reflect on how things have been going lately.
Are you happy with where you are right now, and why? Would you change anything in moving forward? Listen to your body, but listen to your mind as well.
We tend to think we all know each other better than we know ourselves and sometimes, if we’ve been ignoring our own thoughts for too long, that can be the case. Take the time to get to know yourself a bit better this week. Explore your body and your mind, you might just end up liking what you find…
6. Check in with your friends and family!
Remember, family doesn’t always have to be the people you live with. It’s all too easy in this day and age to get wrapped up in the things that surround us. Sometimes we can also tend to forget that the people we spend our time with are going through their own battles.
Be it mentally, physically or just in the moment - reach a hand out to someone you haven’t spoken to in a while. Check in and make sure they’re still doing okay. Being fine doesn’t mean we’re always happy, so trust your gut with this one. We can all help make our lives a lot easier if we pick up the slack collectively.
7. A clean home equals a clean mind.
So don’t dirty our shared home, this Earth. Why not put aside the time during this week to de-clutter?
Why not dedicate a day this week to organising a clean up with friends? Take to the beaches while things are quiet and people are distant and rediscover the true beauty of our islands. Or, you could just clear out your closet and donate those clothes you’ve been meaning to since 2016.
There are so many more things we can do, together, to take care of ourselves. Sometimes, we just need a gentle reminder that things are going to be okay before we can get our feet off the ground, but know that you have the strength inside to do anything you choose. And we all know how much easier that would be if we were all looking out for each other.
Stay safe, stay healthy and stay up to date with our latest news, opinions and information on ARC’s website, Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter.
BONUS: Reflect on recent times.
We’re not here to instill panic, but the recent occurrences of COVID-19 around the world should act as a wake up call for everyone. Sure, COVID-19 isn’t affecting LGBTQI+ folk specifically, but let us cast our minds back to the 80's...
The AIDs pandemic was a rough time for queer communities. We weren't thrown funding from governments to fix things, we had to get up and fight for ourselves. The recent events around the world should act as a reminder to us all - life is only finite, it is what we do with the time that can transcend that.
Think hard about what’s been going on lately. We could all do with an extra wash of our hands, it’s not going to kill anyone. Why don't we channel the energy we've put into remind ourselves to scrub up into that to-do list we've had running since forever?
Tick of the first item, get it done. You got this!