What To Do When You Don't Know How To Chill Out
When you're a child, so much of what you do depends on what your parents tell you (which is always a cautionary tale for people who want to have kids). And what they tell you, it becomes a part of your foundation, your core. Spiritual beliefs included.
As far as my own spirituality goes, I grew up in a religion that honored the Seventh-Day Sabbath (DeVon Franklin is someone who spends a fair amount of time speaking on this very topic; he usually tweets about it on the actual day). And while I am no longer an Adventist ("disciple" is more my lane), I'm still someone who totally goes off of the grid from Friday sunset thru Saturday sunset. When I tell you that it is nothing short of a pure blessing? To have a full 24-hour period to just CHILL OUT is something that no job or anything else really has convinced me to compromise…ever.
One of the things I dig so much about having an entire day, each and every week, to relax is that it's taught me 1) how to better prioritize the rest of the week and 2) how to REST. A lack of rest is why a lot of us age sooner than we should. A lack of rest is why many of us are moody and irritable so much of the time. A lack of rest is why some of us stay anxious, worried, and totally stressed out far more than we should. (Everything from the common cold and headaches to obesity, asthma, diabetes, depression, and even Alzheimer's are directly related to stress, by the way.)
Mind you, I didn't say a lack of sleep. Sleep is just one component of rest. No, what I'm referring to is being intentional about seeking the kind of refreshment and refueling that directly comes from taking work breaks, disconnecting from the internet, and giving your mind, body, and spirit time to calm down…take it easy…let go.
I know that sounds super appealing. I also know its an epidemic how many of us don't have a clue how to really do this. If you think you might be the very person I'm referring to, here are some telltale signs that you and rest are not on the same page. Yet.
Silence and Stillness Make You Uncomfortable
I can't tell you how many men have told me that a sign of being in a healthy relationship with a woman is being able to just sit in silence without being pressured to say anything to her. While on the surface this might not seem like that big of a deal, the next time you're alone with your bae or even with a close friend, try sitting for 15 minutes (without any electronic device on) without saying a word. Once you do it, think about how it made you feel. If words like self-conscious, awkward, or uncomfortable come to mind, ask yourself why.
There are people I personally know who say they constantly have to stay busy because being alone with their thoughts unsettles them. To me, that sounds like they might need to see a therapist (all of us should at one point or another) because if you need to be distracted away from your own mind…something is definitely up.
My overall point is this—just like there is a time to talk and be busy, there is also a time for silence and stillness. How can I be so confident about this? Because one definition of silence is "to put (doubts, fears, etc.) to rest" (can you just imagine how draining it is to worry ALL of the time?!) and stillness itself is a spiritual principle: "Be still and know I am God." (Psalm 46:10) It's in the moments of quiet that we're able to meditate, re-center ourselves, and be OK with not having to have all of the answers or solutions. Silence and stillness are what help to bring us into this mind of mental, emotional, and spiritual peace.
Personal Days and Holidays Are Busier Than Work Days
Maybe if we lived in China (where lunch breaks are two hours long) or the Netherlands (where the work week averages out to be 29 hours a week), there would be no need to make this point. But in America, most of us work at least 40 hours a week. Even if we take a 30-minute lunch, we rarely leave our desk.
I recently read an article that said a 40-hour work week is not only not bad for our health, it's counterproductive when it comes to our overall job performance too. Their recommendation was companies should consider either going to 35-hour work weeks or cutting back to four-day work schedules. But until that glorious day comes, you should at least make a point to use your personal days to do more than go to the dentist and the holiday season to do more than clean your house and attend every party on the planet.
Aside from the weekend, if any days should be set aside for hanging out on the couch for hours on end, personal days and holidays should be. You've literally earned the right to.
Your Smartphone Is Your Bed Buddy
If anything brings forth the truth meaning of something being a blessing and a curse, it's our smartphones. I'll be honest and say that, at least when it comes to mind, I don't really use it to make phone calls (I have a landline for that); I use it because it's basically a handheld computer. That's both a good and bad thing.
A while back, I wrote an article on here about all of the disadvantages that come with treating your phone like it's a vital organ. It's not good for your health, eyesight, libido, productivity, level of empathy—and that's just for starters!
You know what else? When you're constantly on your cell phone, it's also a clear sign that you don't know how to rest. If even when you're in bed, you're constantly strolling through your IG or you're checking to see what the latest gossip blog is talking about, you're not giving your brain time to process all of the intel (or not-so-intel) that it already received throughout the day. This can totally mess with your sleep patterns. It can also cause you to wake up feeling moody and anxious; that's a horrible way to start off any day.
If you don't think your relationship with your phone is as bad as all of this, test yourself. Commit to one week of putting your phone in an entirely different room for the evening. If the thought of doing this already has you hyperventilating…well. See my point?
You Think “Relax, Relate, Release” Is Only a Whitley Gilbert Cliché
Anyone who's a diehard A Different World fan knows that "relax, relate, release" came from a counseling session that Whitley was having as it related to trying to get over Dwayne. When her therapist (played by Debbie Allen) told her to do that, I believe it stuck with all who heard it. Why? Because most of us don't do those things.
Another clear sign of not being able to rest is if you know you're a chronic overthinker. You truly don't know how to NOT make a mountain out of a molehill about pretty much everything in your life. You cough and you wonder if it's lung cancer. Your ex gets engaged and you're spending hours trying to track the new chick down. You don't know how to complete a weekly to-do list because you're too busy worrying what your life, three years from now, will look like.
Some people are so used to overthinking that it's no big deal. Oh, but it is. There are studies that link it to mental illness and the inability to effectively solve problems too. In short, overthinking makes things worse, not better.
It might sound flippant at first but relax (be less severe), relate (take a sympathetic approach), release (let it go).
I've done it for many things and the more I do, the easier it is to accept what I can do and let go of what I cannot. Doing both is what helps you to rest in a way that you probably never have before.
You Always Feel Like You Should Be Doing…SOMETHING
There's a guy I know who told me that one time he decided to go on vacation but, after a day, he returned back home. Why? Because he felt like—and these are his words—that he needed to be doing something; that just sitting along the water and reading a book seemed like a complete waste of time. There's another guy I know who is one of the worst insomniacs that I've ever seen. For at least the past 15 years, he's averaged 3-4 hours a night. He gives me that "I'll sleep when I'm dead" response (I've told him that, ironically, shortened longevity is a symptom of sleep deprivation). But I know for a fact that something both of these men have in common is they treat womanizing like it's an Olympic sport, so the counseling side of me thinks it's their conscious that's keeping them awake.
Anyway, even if you're not able to rest due to how you treat other people, if you are someone who feels guilty for having hours or even a weekend when you did nothing but binge-watch television or order in, what's up with that? Something that I dig about the biblical principle of the Sabbath (and the fact that even God rested—Genesis 2:1-3) is it's a reminder that rest is not a sign of laziness; it's a reward for working so hard. It's also a reminder that in order to do anything well, we need moments to recharge.
When's the last time you did just that?
You’re Constantly “Working on” Relaxing
It tickles me that, whenever I tell one of my Energizer bunny friends that she should learn to relax more, her response is, "Yeah…I'm working on that." Working on relaxing. Talk about your ultimate oxymoron. If you're so unaccustomed to not resting that it does literally feel like work for you to do it, try the following:
- Deep breathe
- Go on a hike
- Put some lavender oil on your pressure points
- Take a bubble bath
- Journal things you're grateful for
- Sleep in one weekend
- Drink some cherry juice (the melatonin in it is on point!)
- Forgive someone (no joke)
- TOTALLY UNPLUG. OFTEN.
People who are holistically healthy know that resting is not a luxury; it is absolutely a necessity. Love yourself enough to finally learn how to rest, with no reservations or apologies. OK? Good (for you).
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Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on March 13, 2019
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports