Listen, I don't know about y'all but if there is one thing that the past several months has taught me, it's to embrace the space that is all mine that I have total control of—my house. While I have always been pretty domesticated in the sense of wanting my place to feel as warm and inviting as possible, lately, I've been intentionally investing in the rooms of my home so that they evoke intense feelings of peace, tranquility and calm. Basically, every time I walk into my front door, I want to be able to exhale whether I go into my living room, kitchen, bedroom or even my bathroom.
A part of the reason why this is so important to me is because I have worked from home for years now. Yet whether or not that is your personal testimony, I want to take out some time to encourage you to do all that you can to make your weekend hours at your own house feel as much as an oasis as possible. After all, an oasis is the perfect word for what most of us need right through here, don't you think?
Oasis: something serving as a refuge, relief, or pleasant change from what is usual, annoying, difficult, etc.
If this is exactly what you want, but you need a little help finding some inspiration, I've got 15 tips to help to get your started. Ready?
1. Invest in Some Greenery
There are a few awesome reasons to have plants in various rooms of your home. They're proven to be able to help to improve your mood, make you more creative and decrease your stress levels. Growing up, there were quite a few plants in my house, but I must admit that I like my place being on the darker side, so I don't have any around at present. What I do have is a huge faux tree in one of my rooms and I adore it to no end. So, whether it's the real deal (which can also decrease indoor humidity and noise levels) or something that's just for show (click here for some of the best fake greenery around), add some plants to your place. It will definitely—and immediately—create an oasis effect.
2. Make Your Own Scented Candles
Personally, I don't know anyone who isn't close to being totally in love with candles; especially if they're scented. If you happen to be one of them but you've never contemplated the benefits that come from lighting a few of 'em up, candles provide a calming effect. Based on the scent that you choose, they can also appeal your sense of smell and put you into a better mood. Plus, candles are a wonderful complement if you're someone who likes to meditate, pray or journal. And, if your oasis is going to consist of a partner being in your space, candles are mad romantic too.
Thing is, candles aren't always or necessarily the cheapest things on the planet. So, if your budget is super tight, something that you might want to do is make some of your own. It might sound like quite the feat at first, but they're actually easier to make than you might think. You can get a thorough walk-through by checking out this article right here.
3. Get Some Big Throw Pillows
Other than the pillows that you've got on your bed, how many other ones do you own? Something that I dig about big throw pillows is they immediately make a room look warmer and more appealing. Plus, there's nothing more comfortable than putting a couple of them on the floor and laying on them while listening to some music or watching a movie. As a bonus, many throw pillows are pretty inexpensive. You can find them everywhere, from Target and Walmart to Big Lots and Bed Bath & Beyond (Apartment Therapy did a feature on where to get some higher end ones; you can check it out here).
4. Switch Up Your Wall Art
I'm not sure what makes us think that just because we've hung up a particular picture that we can't ever switch it out with something else. By rotating your wall art—based on your particular mood or even season of the year—not only is it a simple way to avoid getting bored with your décor but it can totally shift the energy of any given room in your house. If you want some one-of-a-kind pieces, I've found some really unique and affordable prints on Etsy. Just go to the site and put whatever your favorite kind of art is in the search field.
5. Use Natural Light As Much As Possible
There are a few reasons to make the most of natural light. On the financial tip, it's cheaper than relying on your overhead lights and lamps. Also, natural lighting keeps seasonal depression at bay, helps you to get more Vitamin D into your system and can improve your quality of sleep as well.
If you're someone who is hesitant to open your window treatments up because you're worried that someone can peep in to see what you're up to, there is something called mirror window film that you can apply to your windows. It's cool because it makes it possible for you to look out of your windows while preventing others from being able to look inside of 'em. Just know that this is designed to work during the day not at night (as far as looking outside from indoors). Anyway, you can find rolls of the film at a pretty reasonable price at your local home improvement stores.
6. Add More Neutral Hues
If you speak with interior decorators, many of them will say that nothing welcomes the feeling of calm and tranquility quite like neutral colors do. For the record, the four basic hues of neutral are white (which represents purity and cleanliness), black (which represents sophistication and affluence), grey (which represents maturity and reliability) and brown (which represents authenticity and warmth); however, "near neutrals" (which are lighter or darker versions of the four) are great too. Speaking of colors that are wonderful for creating an oasis-like feeling, pale pastels can also provide a feeling of serenity.
7. Cop Some Seasonal Blankets
I think one of the best things that I ever did to pamper myself was purchase several throw blankets. At this point, I believe I've got around 10 of 'em. I just like stringing some along my loveseat and ottomans, so that I can curl up in one at any given moment while I'm chillin' in pretty much any room of my house. Just make sure to get the ones that match the season you're in. Cotton and fleece are most ideal for spring and summer while wool, cable knit and cashmere are more ideal for the fall and wintertime.
8. Take a Milk Bath
The reason why I wrote the article, "Did You Know There's A Right & A Wrong Way To Take A Bath?" around this time last year is because, the reality is, not all baths are created equal. The reason why I also wrote, "Make 'National Bathtub Party Day' Your Favorite Day Of The Year" (which rolls around at the top of every December, by the way) is because, soaking in your tub is one of the most cost-effective yet also luxuriant ways to pamper yourself. If you opt for taking a milk bath from time to time, depending on the kind of milk that you choose, it can perform mini miracles for your overall health and well-being.
Coconut milk and buttermilk contain lauric acid which supports the skin and the production of collagen. Oat milk soothes dry skin and eczema-related symptoms. Goat milk helps to gently remove dead skin cells. Plus, all of these milks will moisturize your skin in a way that is simply incomparable. Just pour two cups of your preferred milk under warm running water. Then add 1/3 cup of your favorite carrier oil (like coconut oil, grapeseed oil, sweet almond oil, jojoba oil or avocado oil) and a few drops of your preferred essential oil to provide an aromatherapy effect. I promise that you will struggle with getting out of your bathtub once you set the stage with all of this holistic healing stuff.
9. Create Your Own Massage Oil
In a perfect world, we'd all have a man who lived to give us massages on demand. But if that's not your personal testimony (mine either, chile), that doesn't mean that you have to deprive yourself. Self-given scalp massages are divine. So is rubbing your feet while you're watching your favorite show on Netflix, Hulu, UMC or a free streaming site Tubi. Just make sure you pamper your scalp or skin with an oil. Warming up something like olive, avocado or Jamaican black castor oil is good for your scalp. As far as your skin is concerned, why not make a divinely scented one? I actually happened upon a site that lists a whopping 22 different DIY massage oil recipes. You can check it out here.
10. Play Some ASMR or Soothing Music
The reason why there are articles on this platform like, "Before You Pull Out Your Playlist, This Is How Music Affects Your Sex Life" is because, there's no way around the fact that music is powerful—and powerfully influential.
From a scientific standpoint, music is proven to do everything from slow down your breathing and heart rate and reduce stress and anxiety to relieve muscle tension and trigger the production of serotonin so that you're calmer and are able to sleep more soundly.
As far as ASMR goes, while it's only been close to a couple of years now, it has gotten to the point where I never turn in for the night without some rain or ocean waves playing in the background. There is an article I once read that said that ASMR actually has the ability to produce "brain orgasms" from a physiological standpoint. So, if you wish you could be at a beach house, trapped indoors on a rainy day or could hike through a tropical rainforest, hopping on over to YouTube and putting in your favorite nature sounds can be almost just like being there.
11. Sign Up for a Wine Subscription
If there is one thing that gets y'all super hype on this platform, it's wine! I ain't mad about it either because wine is an alcoholic drink that has a significant amount of health benefits; especially if it's red wine. Red wine is scientifically proven to contain antioxidants known as polyphenols that will help to keep your heart healthy, the plant compound resveratrol that helps to lower your blood pressure and improve your cognitive functions, and other properties that assist in lowering depression-related symptoms. Wine also has nutrients that support you having stronger immunity and glowing skin. You can always run up to your closest liquor or even grocery store to get your favorite bottle. Or, if you're like me and you prefer to be indoors as much as possible on the weekends, another option is to join a wine club or subscription box service. You can find over 20 of the best ones by going here.
12. Order Some Takeout
Eating out isn't always the cheapest thing; especially if you're ordering food to be delivered. I'll give you that. But if you want to support local eateries in your area and enjoy a good meal without having to prepare it, that is always an option that you can take advantage of. If you're a bit leery because of the pandemic, check out, "10 Safety Practices For Ordering Takeout (During A Pandemic)". If you'd prefer to help out a Black-owned restaurant specifically, Eat Okra is a new app that features those in your local area.
13. Or, Eat Some Calm and Comforting Foods
Really. What's the point in cultivating the perfect ambiance if you're gonna be a nervous wreck either way? Sometimes, in the effort to find a little peace and tranquility, we mess up by chowing down on foods that ultimately cause us to climb the walls (umm, like sugar). Certain foods that promote a sense of harmony are featured in the article on our site, "8 Foods That Will Keep You Cool, Calm & Totally Relaxed". Some other foods that didn't make the list, that are both calming and comforting, include homemade soup, sautéed spinach, avocado toast, grilled salmon and turkey melts.
14. Put Your Phone on Vibrate
Tell me something. If you were on vacation right now, at your favorite spot, would you have your phone with you, 24/7? Unless you're a parent and your kids aren't with you, if your answer is "yes", please check out "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down.". We've got voicemails on our phone for a reason; one of them is so that we can have moments when we're not constantly checking social media notifications or even chatting back and forth with other people. If you want to create a sense of calm and serenity on your weekends, put your phone on a charger in another room. Whatever is awaiting you on it…it can wait. It really can.
15. Sleep In
While recently checking out a pretty extensive sleep survey, I noticed that two-thirds of Americans claim to not sleep well during the week. That's a lot of people. If you're one of them, why not use the weekend to get some extra rest in? For the record, there really is no such thing as "catching up on your sleep", but being able to have a couple of days when you don't have to be a slave to your alarm clock—that can be super refreshing and a perfect way to recharge for Monday. So, definitely make it a point to either go to bed earlier or to stay in bed a little longer on the weekends. Get some new bedding. Sprinkle some lavender essential oil on your sheets (lavender oil is a natural de-stressor). Drink a little tart cherry juice (the melatonin in it will have you out like a light!). Sleep is a very simple way to get the peace that you've been looking for while you're in the oasis atmosphere that you created for yourself. Make sure that you get some this weekend, aight?
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After being a regular contributor for about four years and being (eh hem) MIA in 2022, Shellie is back penning for the platform (did you miss her? LOL).
In some ways, nothing has changed and in others, everything has. For now, she'll just say that she's working on the 20th anniversary edition of her first book, she's in school to take life coaching to another level and she's putting together a platform that supports and encourages Black men because she loves them from head to toe.
Other than that, she still works with couples, she's still a doula, she's still not on social media and her email contact (firstname.lastname@example.org) still hasn't changed (neither has her request to contact her ONLY for personal reasons; pitch to the platform if you have story ideas).
Life is a funny thing but if you stay calm, moments can come full circle and this is one of them. No doubt about it.
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7 Sex-Related Problems That Ruin Sex (And Possibly Your Relationship)
Not too long ago, while in an interview, someone asked me to define one of the main purposes of sex in a long-term relationship: “Probably the most intimate form of communication that we have is sex because it’s an act that connects one’s physical, mental and emotional state to another human being simultaneously — and communication doesn’t get much more profound than that.”
That’s part of the reason why the term “casual sex” irks me to the billionth degree (check out “We Should Really Rethink The Term 'Casual Sex'”); it’s because, even if you think that sex with someone is next-to-nothing, there is so much going on within you (oxytocin highs, if you’re unprotected, fluid bonding, chemical reactions in your brain, etc.) that doesn’t know if someone is “the one” (in your mind) or not. So, in many ways, it acts like they are (check out this YouTube video from a Catholic woman who studies some unexpected ways that sex affects us physically here; sex goes deep, y’all!).
Yeah, sex is so much more than a notion, and that’s why I’m a firm believer that it is such a barometer for long-term relationships overall — because, as I’ve shared before, I once read that, “Good sex in a relationship is 10 percent of the relationship while bad sex in a relationship is 90 percent of the relationship because sex tends to set the tone for what’s happening in the rest of the house.”
And that’s why I think that there are certain sex-related issues that can not only damage your sex life with your partner but could also end up ruining your relationship if you’re not careful (very careful). Let’s get into seven of them now.
1. Being Unaware of Your “Body Clock”Giphy
I can’t tell you how many clients I’ve had who’ve come to me in some serious trouble, in part due to their flailing (or partly nonexistent) sex life. When I ask them if they went to premarital counseling (if you’re engaged, please do; you have a 33 percent greater chance of avoiding divorce when counseling transpires), many say “no” and the ones who say “yes” usually say that it was no more than 3-5 sessions and the topic of sex barely came up (le sigh). Meanwhile, with my premarital meetings, I try and stick with intimacy for three months if I can because there is a lot to unpack, from what you learned as a child, to your first time (or if you are a virgin), to your needs and fantasies, to how you see it from a spiritual perspective — like I said, there is a lot to unpack there.
Take the mere practicality of sex, for example — and more specifically, your body clock. Do you prefer to have sex at night or in the daytime? A lot of couples struggle with intimacy because one prefers the former while the other likes the latter. Do you keep track of when you’re ovulating? It’s pure science why you are probably hornier during that time of the month (because your body is signaling that it’s time to conceive) vs. the fact that you might not be the most interested in sex when you’re PMS’ing. Are you premenopausal? Hormones shift a lot during that time, and here’s the thing — while menopause only lasts a year, the premenopausal stage (which typically starts between 45-55) can last between 7-14 years. Even paying attention to when you have more energy (some do in the day…morning sex, anyone? While others do early in the evening) can play a role.
So yeah, getting to know your body clock (and discussing your partner’s clock with them) can play a role in how much — or how little — sex you have…and that can add life or drain it from the relationship overall.
2. Comparing Your Present with Your PastGiphy
There is a wife of almost 20 years I know who, when I asked her if she thought that her husband was good in bed, she paused for a second, shrugged her shoulders, and simply said, “I was a virgin when I got married, so I have nothing to compare him to. I mean, he’s good to me.” On the flip side, there’s a now divorced couple who I also know (who almost made it to 20 years) who had multiple partners before each other while also having a deep interest in porn who once said to me, “Sometimes, there’s as much as 15 people in our bed because of all of the people from our past and the porn that we’ve seen that’s running through our heads.” Yeah, y’all can act like body counts don’t matter, but there is so much evidence out here that says otherwise — that couple just gave one that doesn’t get talked about as much as it should.
You know, one of my favorite throwback shows is King of Queens (Kevin James, Leah Remini). A few weeks ago, I watched a rerun where Doug and Carrie were talking about the images that come up in their minds, sometimes during sex. Neither was too happy about it, and I can totally see why. I mean, if sex was just about “getting off” (and it’s not), then whatever. However, AGAIN, it’s also about connecting with your partner on a mental and emotional level, and that’s hard to do if you’re there with them in the body while you’re fantasizing about a celebrity, a porn actor (porn is usually acting, don’t let it fool you) or an ex (check out “You Love Him. You Prefer Sex With Your Ex. What Should You Do?”).
And what if that is what’s going on? I once spoke with a sex therapist about this very thing. What she said is people should be less concerned about celebs (if it’s on occasion) and more concerned about that ex because rarely is sex with an ex…just about the sex.
And that’s why this point made the list. If you’re physically with your partner and mentally or emotionally with your ex at the same time, please don’t ignore that. There are definitely some unresolved issues there that you need to work through, whether it’s with a therapist, counselor, or coach, a trusted friend (who won’t add fuel to the literal fire), or even with your ex — although you might want to run that by your partner first because…I’m pretty sure you’d want him to do that with/for you. RIGHT?
3. Not Being Clear About Your Sexual NeedsGiphy
Question — if someone were to walk up to you right now and ask you what your top seven sexual needs are, along with what your top five sexual dealbreakers are, would you be able to answer? It really is kind of wild how many people get upset with their partner for not being able to sexually satisfy them when even they can’t articulate what they need/require in order for that to happen. Yeah, it’s another article for another time about how many people UNREALISTICALLY (and yes, I am yelling it) think that someone loving them well means that they should be able to read their mind. Nope.
It truly can’t be said enough that sex — especially good sex — is about communication. Hmph. It makes me think about a clip that I saw from Tonight’s Conversation podcast (can’t find it at the moment; sorry) where a woman asked how she should tell her partner that he hasn’t been pleasing her, I believe she said for years. My first thought was if he doesn’t know that, she must be faking orgasms (more on that in a bit) which is not only lying — well, it is —, but it’s also pretty counterproductive because while he thinks that he’s “getting the job done,” she’s not fulfilled and resentment is setting in.
Please don’t let rom-coms (fiction) and social media (which is oftentimes fictitious) have you out here thinking that a good lover is someone you automatically gel with who knows exactly what to do; sometimes that is the case, and oftentimes it isn’t.
So, if the sex-related issue that you’re having in your relationship is that your sexual needs aren’t being met, first do you (and your partner) a favor by doing some sex journaling (check out “The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)”) so that you can tangibly see what those needs are and then plan time within the next week or so to pour a couple of glasses of wine, put on some 90s R&B and discuss with your partner what you need. Because actually, what a good lover is, is someone who listens and retains. This brings me to the next point.
4. Minimizing Your Partner’s Sexual NeedsGiphy
A husband once told that when he and his wife were in premarital counseling, something that he mentioned was a bona fide need was fellatio. According to him, his wife told both him and their counselor that she loved giving head. Fast forward to eight years of being in their union, and guess how many times that act went down? A measly four. FOUR TIMES (check out “Sooo...What If You HATE Oral?”).
It’s another message for another time, the amount of people who will “false advertise” during the dating stage in order to get to their goal of marriage. It’s also another message for another time how much that is a form of manipulation that tends to backfire in ways that the manipulator is oftentimes not prepared for.
For now, what I will say, is never think that just because something may not be a need for you that it isn’t a legitimate one for someone else. I mean, how would you feel if that’s how someone treated you? Yeah…exactly.
Yet that is just what happens in a lot of relationships, including when it comes to their bedroom. They will think that their needs should be met, hands down, yet when their partner comes with what’s important to them, all of a sudden, there is dismissiveness, nonchalance, and/or excuses — and how could that not rear its ugly head on so many levels?
Your partner’s sexual needs are essential, even if they are not your own. Never assume that you automatically know everything about them. Also, never assume that what worked two years ago is what will “scratch the itch” now. Hmph. Come to think of it, while you’re sipping on that wine and clearly articulating to him what turns you on, use that as an opportunity to ask him to return the favor. Listen with humility, receptiveness, and intent — the best kind of relationships process their partner’s needs with this kind of vibe…across the board.
5. Taking the “If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It” ApproachGiphy
Lazy lovers. When you hear that phrase, what’s the first thing that comes to your mind? If it’s someone who is just lying there during sex, that would certainly qualify; however, I’m actually speaking of a different kind of laziness here. Believe it or not, some synonyms for lazy include words like apathetic, inattentive, tired, passive (cough, cough), procrastinating, neglectful, and slacking. So yeah, if you and/or your partner can use any of these words to define what sex is consistently like between the two of you — red flag, red flag…RED FREAKIN’ FLAG.
Speaking of being passive, another potentially serious sex-related problem is taking on the attitude that if something ain’t broke, you shouldn’t fix it. What I mean by that is, just because you know that getting on top and riding for exactly six-and-a-half minutes is what will get your partner off, that doesn’t mean that it should be your automatic go-to all of the damn time.
Why? Because. While a part of the fun of having sex is “reaching the peak,” another component that should never be underestimated is discovering new territory: trying new positions, creating a sex bucket list, taking (more) sexcations, playing sex-themed board games (put that phrase in Amazon or on Etsy’s site and go ham!)…you know, doing what will inspire creativity and deter either of you from becoming bored.
That said, a husband of 17 years once told me, “A man can be satisfied with the same woman. We just don’t want the same kind of sex with her.” Words to live by. Yes, indeed.
6. Using Sex as a Deflection or Coping MechanismGiphy
A few years ago, I wrote an article for the platform entitled, “Make-Up Sex Might Be Doing Your Relationship More Harm Than Good” — and with good cause. Words cannot express how many divorced (or soon-to-be divorced) women have told me that a part of what kept them in their marriage, for as long as they stayed in it, was the fact that the sex with their husband was beyond amazing…even though so much other stuff completely and totally sucked. Hey, good sex isn’t a bad thing (c’mon now); however, if it’s the only real thing that’s keeping you with someone, it can turn out to be a toxic deflector.
The reason why I say that is the purpose of sex isn’t to make love; it’s to celebrate it. And if all you’re doing with your partner is f — king and fighting or avoiding issues by stripping down or thinking that sex will “make it all better,” all the while not really knowing what the problem/issue is or what needs to be done to get down to the root of it, that is using sex as a pacifier and again, that’s not what sex is designed to be. Sex doesn’t deserve the pressure of being the end-all to “fixing” ish.
So, if what’s transpiring in your relationship lately is very little talking and a whole lot of sexing, and then once the sex is over, something still feels “off,” that’s a good indication that you’re misusing sex on some level. Get out of the bed, put on a robe, and do some talking (preferably in a room other than the bedroom; leave that space for sex and sleep only as much as possible). Because remember — as much as the wives that I mentioned said that their husbands once had them climbing the walls, those men are still ex-husbands now. Bottom line, sex is good, yet when it comes to keeping a relationship together, it will never be enough. Again, it was never designed to be.
7. Faking ItGiphy
I will never be a fan of faking orgasms. Maybe it’s because I’m a Gemini (we may be a lot of things, but “fake” isn’t really our style). Maybe it’s because I’m a very word-literal individual, and I know that fake means things like “prepare or make (something specious, deceptive, or fraudulent)” and “to conceal the defects of or make appear more attractive, interesting, valuable, etc., usually in order to deceive.” Or perhaps it’s because I don’t get how acting like you’re sexually fulfilled when you actually aren’t is doing anyone any good. Whatever it is, whenever a client (or someone in general because men fakealmost as much as women do) tells me that it’s something they do, I immediately find myself on a mission to shut that mess down (check out “Why You Should Stop Faking Orgasms ASAP”). ALL THE WAY DOWN.
The main reason is that, regardless of if the motive is to hurry things along, not hurt your partner’s feelings, or it’s something more cryptic than that (cough, cough, some form of manipulation tactic), there’s no way around the fact that fakeness is tied to deception and deception is a word that should never be connected to a healthy sexual dynamic.
Besides, one could argue that faking is a form of deflection as well because…wouldn’t it be better to just get it all out in the open WHY you are doing it than to keep pretending when life is too short and great sex is too good to not get the absolute most out of it, as much as possible?
Besides, again, chances are that if you’re faking that you’re sexually pleased, you’re probably faking something else in your relationship (or situation), and how could that possibly be good, right, or beneficial?
Yeah, when it comes to being satisfied across the board, please don’t fake it. State your case in the way that you’d like to hear something said to you, and let the chips fall where they may. If you’ve got a good man, he’s gonna — no pun — rise to the occasion. If his ego can’t handle it, well…that’s something that you should find out sooner than later — when it comes to the bedroom and outside of it? Right? #shoyouright
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