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Stressed About Hiding Your Sexuality? 4 Ways To Cope

While society is moving toward acceptance of the LGBTQIA+ community, there are still dangers and stigmas in being out and queer. Depending on your location, family upbringing, or religious beliefs, you may still feel the need to hide your sexuality. This takes a toll on your mental health. It can evolve into anxiety, depression, PTSD, or other issues. Here are four ways to cope with the stress of hiding your sexuality.

1. Accept yourself

The first step to coping with stress about your sexuality is coming out to yourself. Internalized queerphobia can lead you to suppress parts of yourself you need to accept. When you take the steps toward having pride in yourself, you’ll have less room for negative self-talk and low self-esteem. Be honest with yourself about who you are, why you feel pressured to hide your sexuality, and where to go from here. Staying stuck in the closet (even to yourself) won’t address your stressors and anxieties. While it’s going to be difficult, practicing radical self-acceptance will be worth it in the end.

2. Build a safety net

Even if it’s just one trusted friend, you should actively look for people to confide in. Coming out is a process. Each time you meet a new person, you’ll need to “come out” again. Instead of treating coming out as a momentous, one-time event (which in some ways, it will be!), try to foster smaller coming-out moments with people you care about. Friends are the family you choose. Find those people who will be supportive and understand the stress you’re going through. Even one close confidant can make a huge difference.

3. Find support online

The internet connects us with billions of people all over the planet. Even if you’re in a small town and it seems like nobody around you is queer, people just like you are right at your fingertips. Find support groups and communities online to connect with like-minded individuals. You can learn a lot from out queer people living different lives from yours. You might be able to find a mentor who can model healthy coping skills and guide you through coming out. The internet is also a good place to explore your sexual identity even more. When you’ve been hiding such a crucial part of yourself, having the space to open up online can help you understand the depths of your identity.

4. Nurture your passions

As with anyone going through a time of stress, it’s important to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being. Find what soothes you. Cook your favorite meals while listening to jazz. Take baths with essential oils. Practice yoga and meditation. Take up a fun new craft. Learn to be fully present in your own body. Do things that give you pleasure.

Perhaps, in this process of quiet self-discovery, you’ve also ignited a special connection to cultural figures who have gone through situations like yours. Delve into learning about queerness: watch movies, listen to podcasts, and read books. You can learn on your own about queer history, artists, musicians, movements, and icons. In this way you’ll be able to identify with the struggles of queer folks from many times and places. Allow yourself the space to feel passionate about this new knowledge!

Seeking professional help

Understanding your sexuality, coming out, and living openly are issues that are best covered with a professional therapist. Prioritizing your mental well-being should involve counseling. Even if you have a close friend you can be fully honest with, therapy sessions will address your traumas, childhood, fears, and worries in a more targeted way. A counselor can give you strategies for stress reduction as you work through this difficult time in your life. They’ll help you address your anxieties and navigate your social circle as you decide whether to come out.

To find out more about how therapy can help you cope with the stress of hiding your sexuality, please reach out to us.