It’s fairly clear that the resilience that we often associate with LGBTQ people isn’t foolproof. We can all have dark moments. If your support networks miss the signals, it’s easy to become a statistic – another queer person who didn’t make it.
Studies demonstrate that queer people experience higher levels of anxiety, stress, depression, and suicidal feelings than heterosexual people. Rates of drug and alcohol misuse have also been found to be higher.
Poor levels of mental health among gay and bisexual people have often been linked to experiences of homophobic discrimination and bullying. For some, other factors such as age, religion or ethnicity can further complicate mental distress.
LGBTQ people are incredibly resilient and, in general, we’re pretty good at presenting a positive image to the world. However, regardless of what our Instagram may be telling you, the reality may be much darker, and much more complex.
Make sure that you regularly check-in with your queer friends. Don’t assume that they’re doing great just because that’s what their social media status updates suggest. They may not even realise that they’re at risk of falling apart.
Something that we’re currently exploring as a way to navigate our anxiety is the use of personal goals.
What are personal goals?
Personal goals are just some targets, objectives, or aspirations that you set yourself.
For examples of what a personal goal might look like, think of New Year’s resolutions – this year, I will achieve X, Y, and Z (or at least make an attempt at it).
Obviously, you can set yourself goals, objectives, or aspirations at any time of the year. You don’t have to wait until New Year’s Eve to do it.
How are personal goals a useful tool to try and manage anxiety?
One of the big drivers of anxiety is uncertainty and a feeling of not being in control.
There’s so much about our day-to-day lives that is uncertain, and so much that is beyond our control.
Making some personal goals is a way to try and give yourself some structure and some specific things to focus on. Setting personal goals obviously isn’t going to solve all your problems, but it might help by helping to differentiate the things that you do have control over and the things that are beyond your control.
Focus your energy on the things that you do have control over, and try not to be overwhelmed by the things that you have no control over.
What are some examples of personal goals that might help manage anxiety?
Personal goals need to make sense to you. It’s good to research and workshop options to get some inspiration, but the personal goals that you commit yourself to have to have meaning for what’s going on in your life.
Try and give yourself a range of goals – some big ones and some small ones, some that are relatively easy to deliver on and some that will take a bit more work.
Don’t set too many personal goals. You don’t need a big long list of stuff to do – try and keep it to around five things that you’re working on.
Be flexible with your personal goals. This isn’t something that is written in stone and can’t be changed. You’re in charge of your goals – you might find that you want to adjust one of your goals, or you might achieve one and decide to add a new one.
Some of the examples of personal goals that we’re currently workshopping include:
- Read a book.
- Go viral on TikTok.
- Learn how to make pasta.
- Rank all of Jason Statham’s films from best to worst.
- Give meditation a try.
- Update the bio fields and photos on the dating apps.
- Review and update my travel wish-list.
- Stop drunk-texting ex-boyfriends.
How can I try and stick to my personal goals?
In a way, setting personal goals is the easy bit – actually delivering on them takes some effort.
The first step is to write them down. Put them on your phone somewhere – have a record of them handy so you can refer to them if you ever need a bit of a reminder about what you’ve committed to.
Tell someone about them. Sharing your personal goals with someone else makes them more real. Share them with a friend, a family member, your therapist, your life-coach, or a stranger that you’ve met on the internet. It’s not about having someone else hold you to account for the personal goals you’ve set, but talking about them helps to remind you why these goals were important to you in the first place.
What happens if I fail on my personal goals?
There’s no such thing as failing on your personal goals. This isn’t a test, or an exam – no one is judging you.
Things happen. Things change. You’ll probably achieve some of the things that you set out to do, but circumstances may mean that you don't deliver on some others.
Don’t be too hard on yourself.
If you feel like you’ve got off track, take a time-out, give yourself some headspace, and set yourself some new goals.
It’s worth a try, right?