Mardi Gras is a celebration of who we are and how we got here, and what that looks like is different for everybody. For you, Mardi Gras might be a time to be truly proud of your identity. Or it could be a time where you reflect on what you’ve lost by coming out (or not coming out). It’s a time to be thankful, proud, and festive, but with that can also be a time of reflection, or grief.
It’s the time of year when all of Sydney turns rainbow: from flag poles to ATMs, from pedestrian crossings to ad campaigns. Our communities are thrust into the spotlight, for better or worse. Being the centre of attention means increased scrutiny, which can be pretty exhausting. Not to mention the amount of excellent events on over the season: every night there’s another party to go to, another show to see, friends from out of town to catch up with.
It’s the best time to experience the culture of the sexuality and gender diverse communities, whether that’s a film, a play, a DJ, a party, or all of the above. These social events facilitate some crucial connections, and are what make our communities so close and caring of each other. But with so much happening all at once, it can get quite intense!
No matter what your circumstances, celebratory periods like Mardi Gras can be a rollercoaster of emotion, especially when you add alcohol, drugs and partying to the mix. So we’ve come up with some handy tips for you to look after your mental health over the next few weeks.
- Don’t overdo it
It can be tempting to go to every party over the Mardi Gras period, but sometimes you have to be picky. Going too hard too many days or weekends in a row can severely affect your mental health, as well as your physical health, and the health of your bank account! Don’t let the fear of missing out drive you to exhaustion.
Acknowledge when your mind and body need a rest, and maybe skip that event if you need to. Make sure you get enough down time in between parties. Plan which ones you’ll go to and plan your chill time afterwards.
- Recognise your behaviours
Practice some self-reflection. Why did you have that extra drink last night? What are some of the factors underlying your decisions to party? Understanding the motivators to your actions will help you understand when you might be straying into some harmful behaviours.
- Talk to your friends, maintain healthy relationships
If you’re going out a lot during the Mardi Gras period, it’s likely you might run into some old toxic relationships, or even make some new ones. Get in touch with your friends, the ones you know you can trust, and celebrate with them. They’re the ones who will be there to support you if you need it. Lend your ear to them in case they need it too.
- Look after your body: sleep, exercise, eat
Your mental health improves when you look after your physical health: make sure you get plenty of rest, are getting some exercise, and eating well. This helps you recover from parties, as well as helping manage any symptoms of stress, anxiety, or depression. Maintain a healthy balance to keep your head above water.
- Know what a comedown looks like, and look after yourself if you’re having one
We’ve compiled a helpful list of tips for coping with a comedown.
- Plan something nice for the weeks after Mardi Gras
The weeks after Mardi Gras can feel like a giant comedown, from both the festivities and celebrations and love in the air, and from anything you might have taken to extend that euphoria. Plan something nice for the weeks after Mardi Gras: a weekend away, a picnic with friends, a new book to read, a nice dinner date. Give yourself something to look forward to once the party’s over.
- Get some professional help if you feel you need it
Never be afraid or embarrassed to ask for professional help. If you would like to speak to a professional that is understanding, safe, and sexuality and gender diverse inclusive, check out some of our services.
- Remember you are loved and beautiful (just the way you are)
No matter who you are, or what you look like, Mardi Gras is about celebrating you and your identity. Be proud of who you are, be proud of the community you’re a part of. At this time of year, there’s more flesh on display than usual, and even someone with the most chiselled body might have insecurities, so remember to respect everyone’s bodies, and especially your own.
Everyone is beautiful in whatever they’re wearing, whether that’s next to nothing, or a full body suit. Maintaining a healthy attitude toward food, exercise, and your body is the best way to channel Lizzo, and fall in love with “that bitch in the mirror – damn she’s the one”.