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How These LGBTQ+ Artists Do Wellness Will Inspire You To Find Your Own Self-Care Style

There's no one-size-fits-all approach.

How These LGBTQ+ Artists Do Wellness Will Inspire You To Find Your Own Self-Care Style
Sponsored Content Contributing Writer, Studio

Adam Zapple. Centre: DJ Levi. Right: Brooke Lynn Heights photographed by Aleksandar Antonijevic

When most people think of self-care, often the first things that come to mind are soothing face masks, aromatic bath bombs or an evening away from screens.

And while all of those things can create a solid relaxation routine, wellness is more than just skincare and good sleep. Sometimes it means breaking self-care stereotypes and finding what it takes to nourish every part of you, exactly as you are.

This is something that vitaminwater knows well. By offering a range of flavours, they make it easy to nourish every side of you.

Louie MurrayLouie Murray | Narcity Media

Recently, Narcity Canada chatted with three 2SLGBTQIA+ artists — Adam Zapple, DJ Levi, and Aleksandar Antonijevic — who are each defining their own approach to wellness.

Keen to develop your own not-so-typical take on self-care? Here are some lessons these remarkable creatives have to share.

These interviews have been condensed and edited for clarity.

Keep an open mind

If you feel uninspired by (or are excluded from) typical wellness activities and spaces, opening your mind to the possibilities is a big step in the right direction.

Jess Hawkins is a drag king who performs in Vancouver as Adam Zapple, and she explained that this issue is all-too-familiar for 2SLGBTQIA+ communities.

"I have encountered a lot of self care advice that mentions avoiding stress or avoiding stressful situations and it just doesn't seem that feasible for 2SLGBTQIA+ people who are constantly faced with adversity and persecution," she told Narcity.

Queerness isn't the only barrier either, Hawkins explained, adding: "As a plus size person a spa is very intimidating and that can prohibit the feelings of wellness and self care."

So where does she find wellness when these spaces are unavailable?

"One of my favourite things to do after a period of stressful, non stop, on the go work or performing is to build a blanket fort and create a cozy safe space to unwind in," she said.

"It is a great return to nostalgia from being a child and making your own space to escape to."

Jess Hawkins, aka Adam Zapple, relaxing in her fort. @adam_zapple | Instagram

When you open your mind to the possibilities for self-care, you might find some surprising outlets. For Toronto-based DJ Levi, nothing beats literal self-expression.

"Scream therapy, you could call it," Levi told Narcity. "I'll find a place in my apartment or outside where it won't scare anyone, and I will just let some good old fashioned screams out."

Tune in to what works for you

Of course, once your mind is open and the possibilities are endless, what's the next step?

For Aleksandar Antonijevic, a Toronto photographer whose work includes shooting Canada's Drag Race star Brooke Lynn Heights, this requires getting in touch with yourself.

"I think self-care needs to come from a very personal place, something that will allow your inner being to just breathe, with no expectations or distractions," he told Narcity.

For Antonijevic, a former principal dancer with The National Ballet of Canada, making his own art — and not dancing to the beat of someone else's drum — is particularly healing.

"When I am in a shoot, I feel alive," he said. "Energized, authentic, powerful, creative and present. It truly is how I unwind if you will."

Levi also knows a thing or two about this. After a car accident in 2014 left her with a traumatic brain injury, her recovery has centred around finding how to do wellness her way.

"My mother one day met this man through work that did traditional Chinese medicine, and she made an appointment.," she said. "That's when I really got in touch with myself."

Along with letting it all out with a good scream, Levi also likes to fall asleep to ASMR videos, listen to frequency music or find a secret spot in nature where she can serenely unwind.

"The best self care in my opinion is being able to ask yourself what your needs are, and discovering what it is that makes you tick."

A bottle of vitaminwater XXX.Louie Murray | Narcity Media

Figuring out what you need and then connecting with it is perhaps the most basic principle of wellness. For example, if you're looking for something with antioxidants, vitaminwater XXX could be your next step.

Know when it's time to pause

Tuning in to the "what" of self-care is only one part of the puzzle. There's also the "when" that needs to be considered — and a lot of people find it really hard.

Aleksandar Antonijevic does the splits while photographing.Courtesy of Aleksandar Antonijevic

In fact, a 2021 study found that nearly one-third of Canadians are burnt out. Burnout occurs for numerous reasons, but this number speaks volumes about how many people are badly in need of a recharge.

Feeling drained, exhausted and overwhelmed from time to time is a natural part of life. The goal of wellness is not avoiding this altogether, but having a self-care plan in place to manage its impact on your life.

"Personally one of my biggest challenges is creative burnout from trying to do large creative projects or challenging myself to do bigger and better things," Hawkins told Narcity.

She added that building forts is a great antidote to the pressure of professional achievement: "Finding something that connected to my inner child seemed to help me."

For Levi, the most challenging part of her work is the toll it takes on her health: "The late nights, the constant stimulation, the loud noise and being constantly surrounded by alcohol. All of that plus being so 'on' all the time is what I tend to need a recharge from.

"Taking time for myself in any way can be as simple as checking in with myself and making sure I do at least one thing that I like to do each day," she said.

Connect with the quiet inside you

Despite their different experiences and wellness styles, these artists all agree on one thing: You need to find your inner quiet if you want to care for yourself.

"Not enough is said about how important it is to be still and silent and really listen to our inner beings," Antonijevic told Narcity. "Growing up queer and in ballet in a country like Serbia, my safe place was inside myself.

Aleksandar Antonijevic on a photo shoot.Courtesy of Aleksandar Antonijevic

"That’s where I found peace, and it gave me space to listen to my thoughts and acknowledge my feelings and be able to look at a bigger picture and think about art and life and where in there I thought I belonged."

Levi agrees: "Understanding yourself can be a lifelong discovery, however, there is such a thing as learning how to become your best caretaker, and that's what I believe wellness is about."

For Hawkins, the most important thing is to lean into what brings you joy.

"Find a small thing that you can do that makes you happy, and do it without rules!" she said.

"When you start to feel the pressure to do things perfectly you are inviting stress back into your downtime which will stop you from feeling recharged… Remember that self-care can be tiny things that don’t make sense to anyone else."

In the end, wellness isn't about going to a certain place like a spa or gym — nor is it about particular activities like taking baths, doing face masks or yoga.

Just like these 2SLGBTQIA+ artists, breaking stereotypes and exploring new avenues can help you find your own unique ways to prioritize your well-being.

Whether it looks like a cozy blanket fort, scream therapy, making art, or simply finding joy in small things, self-care is about understanding yourself and becoming your best caretaker, allowing you to recharge and thrive.

A bottle of vitaminwater essential.Louie Murray | Narcity Media

Just the same, vitaminwater doesn't offer only one choice when it comes to flavours. Instead, you can sip on what fits your needs. For example, mega c highlights vitamin C, focus has vitamin A, and essential includes calcium.

So take a deep breath and tune into what your body's asking for — maybe it's vitaminwater.

To learn more about vitaminwater, follow them on Facebook and Instagram

Miranda Cipolla
Sponsored Content Contributing Writer, Studio
Miranda Cipolla was a Sponsored Content Contributing Writer for the Studio department focused on sponsored content and was based in Montreal, Canada.