February is National Self-Check Awareness Month—a reminder for us to take charge of our health in order to avoid chronic disease and other preventable conditions.
“Since the onset of the global pandemic 10 months ago, many of us in the LGBTQ community have struggled to maintain connection, to find time and space to retreat and refortify, and to prioritize our physical and mental health,” points out Kaiyti Duffy, medical director of the Los Angeles LGBT Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program for lesbian and bi women.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many people to delay important health maintenance activities, such as a colon cancer screening or cholesterol testing. While it’s scary to confront HIV, cancer, heart disease, diabetes and other illness and diseases, it’s always best to know what is going on with your body. These necessary services can be provided in a safe and accessible way.
“Through prevention, early detection self-checks, and wellness care, people can help reduce the odds of getting ill in the first place,” Duffy explains. “Self-care is not about motivation or discipline nor is it a superfluous concept that we can afford to forget in times of distress. Self-care is essential to our well-being as both individuals and members of the queer community.”
A way to commit to honoring your physical, mental, and spiritual health is by making an appointment with your doctor or with the Center’s Health Services, one of the nation’s largest and most experienced providers of LGBT health and mental health care.
“Talk to your health provider about areas in your life where you may be struggling,” Duffy says. “Together, you can identify your health goals and develop tangible, achievable strategies to help you on the path toward wellness.”
There are also a number of self-care opportunities that can be accomplished at home. Duffy suggests picking only one thing at a time to ensure it gets done and help build a sense of self-confidence. Start with something small and attainable like drinking eight glasses of water in a day, eating five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, or moving your body for at least 30 minutes each day (brisk walking, dancing, rigorous house cleaning) to raise your heart rate.
She also recommends making sleep hygiene a priority since adequate rest is essential to wellness. Commit to turning off all electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime.
“Your self-care efforts have the potential to strengthen our community as a whole,” Duffy says. “We are here to support you and wellness journey in any way that we can.
For more information about the Center’s Audre Lorde Health Program for lesbian and bi women, visit lalgbtcenter.org/ALHP
The Center accepts most insurance plans and can help people who are uninsured or underinsured qualify for assistance programs. For more info visit lalgbtcenter.org/insurance_plans.