Our center is among those preparing to celebrate LGBT Health Awareness Week from March 27th to 31st. In addition to thinking broadly about health equity for our community, we should also be thinking about our own individual health and well-being.
Health and well-being are different to every person. For me, a big realization lately has been that “self-care” is less an indulgence as it is a discipline. It requires routines, checklists, time, and attention. It also changes depending on one’s circumstances and will change over and over as we move through different stages of our lives.
We each approach it differently, too. For example, after my physical last year, I sent a text to my future wife saying my blood work came back normal. She asked me several additional questions and I realized that when she gets blood work, she reads through each individual lab report and understands each number. She will teach me this, I’m sure. For me, I was just so proud that I went to the doctor and prioritized getting the tests done, that when someone told me the results were normal, I didn’t give it another thought.
I know exercise is important for my health and I don’t particularly enjoy the gym. So, I have arranged several of my regular appointments and errands to be within walking distance of my apartment. This incentivizes me to move and walk more often, and my exercise is more organic and incorporates into my life easily.
During LGBT Health Awareness Week, we should also be thinking about how we look out for each other. I’m learning so much lately about the health crises that can arise out of social isolation. When is the last time you reached out to someone you haven’t seen in a while? Or picked up the phone for a chat versus a text? I may be able to make someone think I’m doing okay via text, but it’s not as easy to edit the sound of my voice on a phone call. There is a small group of people for whom I will always pick up the phone. You are in that small circle for someone, and they might need to hear from you.
While we’re working to care for ourselves and our loved ones, we must be cognizant of barriers to care and disparities. I wrote about this in my last column and it bears repeating. A recent poll conducted by NPR, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health determined that one in five LGBTQ adults has avoided seeking medical care for fear of discrimination. Not only does this keep some people away from needed health care, studies show it can create lifelong stress, leading to chronic health problems like heart disease and depression.
Recently, our Center took steps to help address this health equity crisis with a day-long educational symposium, “Trans Care Through the Lifespan.” Approximately 75 medical professionals from around the region joined us for training and information to help them deliver welcoming care to all who need it.
During LGBT Health Awareness Week and throughout the year, our dedicated staff at the LGBT Health Resource Center want to help you live your healthiest, happiest life. Reach out to us at Resourcecenter.lgbt or 410-837-2050 extension 1049, and tell us how we can help you.