Whew. 2020 has been the longest century ever, hasn't it? I'd venture to say that if there's been any season in your life that has tested how calm you can be in a storm, this year would have to be it. That's why it's important for me to say up front that, as I set out to tackle the topic of how to handle anxiety, I'm coming from the space of how to deal with mild or surface forms of worry, restlessness and stress. But if you happen to feel compounded symptoms such as rapid breathing, increased heart rate, constant fatigue, depression, loss of appetite, sweating or paralyzing fear—these signs point to you possibly battling with an anxiety disorder. It's absolutely nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed about (currently around 40 million Americans do), yet it is something that you should speak with your doctor about, OK?
I just wanted to put that on record because the hacks that I'm about to share are for when you have anxious moments more than if you're experiencing full-on anxiety attacks. That said, if you do find moments when you feel like your life is an emotional roller coaster that you can't seem to get off of, here are some all-natural things that you can do to feel back in control again.
1. Schedule Your Day
If a lot of us were honest with ourselves, we'd admit that a huge part of what causes us to feel anxious is we're overwhelmed. We're overwhelmed because we don't manage our time (and our priorities) as well as we should. The good news about this particular point is there is a very simple way to tackle this challenge. All you need to do is create a schedule for your day by creating a to-do list, starting with the most difficult and/or time-consuming things that need to get done.
Yes, a schedule is a bit regimented, but I'll be the first one to say that since I've started designating times to do certain things, not only has it made my day flow much smoother but it's given me a greater sense of accomplishment (like I haven't been jacking off my time) which has provided a sense of calm and tranquility in the process.
By the way, if you're someone who'd prefer the help of an app in this particular area, check out Lifehack's "18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated)". It can help to point you into the right direction.
Over here in xoNecole world, we're all about meditation (check out "7 Apps For Guided Meditation For The Woman Fighting To Find Peace Of Mind", "Here's How To Make Meditation Less...Well, Boring", "The Best Meditation Practices For Your Zodiac Sign" and "What Exactly Is 'Orgasmic Meditation'?"). That's because many of the xoTribe can personally attest to how wonderful it can be to take a few moments out to get still, tune out busy thoughts and breathe deeply. In fact, there are many studies that directly connect meditation to relieving anxiety, depression and even pain. Seems like a good enough reason to devote at least 15 minutes of your day to meditation, don't you think?
3. Use Oat Milk As Your Milk Alternative
Whenever someone asks me why I think dairy (especially milk) isn't the best for their health, I typically say something along the lines of, "Humans are the only mammals who will not only drink another mammal's milk but will do it well into adulthood." Yeah, you don't have the time and I don't have the print space to get into all of the reasons why dairy really isn't the best thing for you. For now, I'll just encourage you to consider that a lot of dairy is high in hormones (which can produce a lot of pus. YUCK!) and saturated fat, can actually trigger acne breakouts, is not even remotely as high in calcium as advertisers would like us to think and, the production of it isn't the best for the environment, either.
Thankfully, there are all sorts of alternatives that you can try; some that are actually really delicious too. While I used to be a huge almond milk girl, after I learned that it can take several cups of almonds to make a half carton of the milk (which also isn't great for the environment) and that some popular brands of almond milk only contain two percent almonds, I've switched over to oat milk. It's smooth, it's creamy and it provides benefits like lowering blood cholesterol levels, boosting immunity, raising iron levels and, oat milk is also soy, lactose and nut-free. Plus, it's the kind of milk that's loaded with Vitamin B12 (50 percent of what you need each day). B12 is a vitamin that not only keeps your red blood cells in good shape, it helps to keep your nervous system balanced too. The calmer your nervous system is, the calmer you will be overall.
4. Back Up Off of Stimulants
I know someone who has a low-grade anxiety disorder who is always talking about how they can never concentrate and get stuff done. 7 times out of 10, guess what they're drinking while they are telling me this? Freakin' coffee. Listen, if you already struggle with feeling anxious, the last thing that you need to do is take in a lot of stimulants and caffeine certainly tops that list. So, whether it's java, chocolate, cola, energy drinks (including energy water; read the back of the label to be sure) or even green tea, if you want to feel less anxious throughout the day, it's best to find alternatives for those things, just as soon as you possibly can.
5. Get Your Blood Sugar Up
Here's something that just might surprise you. Did you know that when your blood sugar level drops, it can actually cause you to feel more anxious?
By no means is this a pass to dig into a gallon of your favorite ice cream (because too much sugar can also make you anxious). But if you do feel a little stressed out or nervous, try snacking on some grapes, applesauce or even a banana. Those will kick your blood sugar up, but in a much healthier way.
6. Take a Passionflower Supplement
On the supplement tip, something that Native Americans have used for centuries to treat a variety of health issues is passionflower. It's great for soothing an upset stomach, healing stomach ulcers and making it easier to sleep at night. But what passionflower is probably best known for is being an all-natural way to treat anxiety, thanks to the sedative-like effect that it provides. Some people prefer to take it in supplement form while others prefer drinking passionflower tea. Both are cool, but do make sure to speak with your doctor before adding the supplement, consistently, to your health care regimen (especially if you're pregnant or breastfeeding). While passionflower is effective, it can sometimes be pretty potent too.
7. Breathe in Some Bergamot Oil
I'm thinking that it's pretty common knowledge that lavender oil is awesome at helping to keep you calm. But did you know that bergamot (and bergamot orange) essential oil has a lot of benefits too? It fights acne, treats eczema and psoriasis, relieves headaches and is even a great all-natural remedy for food poisoning. Plus, it's also a great oil for treating anxiety because, when you breathe it in, it helps to lower the cortisol (your natural stress hormone) levels in your system. Dope.
Something else that we are quite fond of, over here in xoNecole land, is journaling. You can read articles on our site like "What Happened When I Challenged Myself To Journal More For Two Weeks", "How To Start A Bullet Journal (& Finally Get Your Life Together)" and "The Art Of Sex Journaling (And Why You Should Do It)" to gain some different perspectives on why getting a journal (and then actually writing in it) can really be one of the best gifts that you could ever give to yourself.
When it comes to handling moments of anxiety, journaling can help you to get to the bottom of what's causing you to feel the way that you do. Sometimes, when our emotions are all over the place, we get frustrated because we don't know what's "wrong" with us. Writing our feelings down can bring forth a sense of clarity. And when you're able to pinpoint what a root issue is, you're better equipped to come up with a viable remedy or solution.
9. Change Your Bedding
You spend at least one-third of your day in your bed, right? Seems to me that your bedding should also encourage peace in your world (especially if insomnia is something that you struggle with). Well, according to a lot of interior decorators, hues that will help to alleviate stress include shades of blue, purple, green, brown and grey. The same applies to your bedroom walls if it's time to give your bedroom (or even your home office) a makeover.
10. UNPLUG (Sometimes)
No one—and I do mean absolutely no one—needs to be "plugged in" all of the time. That's why I wrote articles for the site like "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down." and "Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming". I'm telling y'all, whenever people try and tell me about how much worse the world is getting, I first remind them of how the Good Book simply says that there is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9) and, thanks to the internet, we just know about a lot of what's transpiring…all at once. You are never going to get free from anxiety if you're always reading about what's happening. That's why it's a good idea to turn off your social media notifications (at least sometimes) and set some online hours. It requires some self-discipline but opting to read a book, take a bath or watch a (drama- and violent-free) movie instead of taking in so much of the world 24/7 will definitely help you to feel more at peace with yourself—and life, in general.
11. Create a Calming Mantra
Remember how I shouted out meditating at the top of this? It's one way to center you. So is coming up with your own mantra. A mantra is simply a word or phrase that you can sing or chant to yourself to bring you peace and calm. Customizing a mantra of your own is one of the best "quickie hacks" if you've got an interview coming up, you're about to have a conversation that you're unsure about or you need to make a big decision that you're stressing over. Even something as simple as "Peace dwells here" can help to center you in ways you would never imagine. Try it.
12. Get 6-8 Hours of Sleep
Goodness, y'all. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in every 3 people aren't getting enough sleep. That's not good because symptoms associated with sleep deprivation include moodiness, fatigue, weight gain, lack of concentration, forgetfulness and yes, certain levels of anxiety. This is why, I say all of the time, that sleep—shoot, rest in general—cannot be seen as a luxury. For the sake of your overall health and well-being, it's important to get no less than 6-8 hours on a consistent basis. Sleep is a powerful way your body calms and heals itself. Sleep is also how you can take a break from all that concerns you. Sleep can be a simple remedy for worry, restlessness and stress. Get more of it. Watch what it does for those bouts of anxiety that you've been having. For real, for real.
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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.
Three Influencers Show Off Their 2022 Holiday Hair Looks Using Their SheaMoisture Faves
This post is in partnership with SheaMoisture.
For Black women, there’s one compliment that will boost our confidence like none other: “Come through hair!” You know the vibe! Walking into a room with folks acknowledging that your hair is laid for the gawds, and the effort that it took to get it there, is a top five feeling. And with the holiday season just weeks away, you’ll be hearing that quite often. Between Thanksgiving gatherings with the family, Friendsgiving, company parties, and Christmas get-togethers, the opportunities to let your hair show up and show out aren’t too far away.
Apart from the holiday stuntin’, the end-of-year slow down is also the perfect opportunity to reevaluate the year your hair has had. Whether you kept it cute with protective braids, went big with blowouts, or let loose with textured twist-outs, this is the perfect time to give your hair the gift of TLC - tender lovin’ curls. Like the weather, our hair goes through seasons and has different needs depending on what we’ve put it through. Perhaps the transition into fall/winter has left your curls a bit parched and in need of some serious hydration. Or maybe your strands could use some restorative conditioning after taking it down from a convenient protective style. No matter what category you fall into, SheaMoisture has hundreds of ways that you can clean, treat and refresh your hair for a healthy shine that will bring you into the new year right. Bring your curls back to life with the nourishing and fragrant Coconut & Hibiscus line. Boosted with natural ingredients such as coconut oil, neem oil, carrot oil, and shea butter, this line is the antidote to reviving thirsty, dehydrated hair. Even better - with SheaMoisture’s custom quiz, you can get a hair analysis that will lead you to the right products for your hair needs. Say hello to sleek edges, and moisturized, stronger strands.
In need of a little hair-spiration? We got you covered! xoNecole and SheaMoisture have teamed up with three natural hair influencers to debut their holiday hair looks. Meet Ambrosia Malbrough, Jasmin Moses, and Daye Covington - beauty bawses who’ve created some incredible holiday looks that are stylish and easy to achieve. They also gave us the scoop on the SheaMoisture products they’re loving right now, as well as their 2023 hair goals.
Read on for more:
Daye Covington Kicks Her Twist Out Up A Notch With A Voluminous Updo
“I wanted to create a style that was super cute but also easy to pull together, so I went with a puff and tendril combo! It's a style that can be done on freshly washed curls or one that can be done on old hair. [It’s perfect for] when we're short for time but want to add a little razzle-dazzle to our hair before a special occasion. It's very versatile!”
“My favorite Shea Moisture product hand's down is the Coconut & Hibiscus Curl Enhancing Smoothie! That is definitely a #TeamNaturalHair staple. Coconut is one of the ingredients that my hair favors. I also find that medium/light creams absorb best in my hair, so it's no surprise that I get amazing definition and moisture when I use the Curl Enhancing Smoothie. I love it for twist-outs, braid-outs, and rod set styles. Any product that can give me versatility when it comes to styling plus added moisture, that's what a staple is for me!”
“I would love to dye my hair back to blue! It was my favorite hair color, but unfortunately, my 9-5 now prohibits unnatural hair colors. I'm pushing it with this dark plum color, but I look forward to the day where I can transition into a new stage of life and go back to blue. In the meantime, I'm focusing on length retention. I've been doing well for 2022 and have had no major cuts so I'm hoping to stay consistent with my routine in 2023.”
Follow Daye on Instagram @dayelasoul
Ambrosia Malbrough Made Magic With Poppin’ And Defined Finger Coils
“[Finger coils] is a style that I don’t do often, it takes much more time than my usual wash and go. But that extra time put in makes it extra special and so worth it. The results are beautiful. It’s a style that offers many days of wear, too!”
“[Earlier this year] I did my 4th big chop. This time around hit different as a mom of two. I don’t always have the extra time on my hands to put into my hair, so the short ‘do has been convenient. I’ve realized that not all wash days are created equal even if I use the same products. However, my 4c coils are loving the products I'm using now”
“Since I’ve been having my hair dyed, I’m looking forward to trying Shea Moisture’s new Mongongo and Jojoba Oils High Porosity Moisture Replenish Hair Masque. I am currently growing my hair out and plan on having fun with more highlights and a new shape - possibly a shag cut in 2023!”
Follow Ambrosia on Instagram at @brosiaaa
Jasmin Moses Shows The Secrets To Her Jaw-Dropping Curly Ponytail
“I love doing a sleek ponytail with my baby hairs laid to a T! It helps so my hair isn't in the way when I am cooking and running errands, but it's still snatched to provoke anyone in the room to stop me to say 'girllll your hair is laid!'. I like to add a little razzle dazzle by adding my cute, naturally curly ponytail extensions. It elevates the look perfectly for the holidays.”
“It took me from my freshman year of college to now, almost seven whole years, to know what works for my hair. I love protective styles like wigs and braids because my hair thrives when I don't mess with it. When I leave my hair alone, it grows the best, so I love taking off my wig when I get home, oiling my scalp and putting my bonnet on for bed! When I do wear my natural hair out, what helps me maintain the health of my hair is to get in a rhythm with my hair. [I do] my wash days on Sunday, wear it in a wash n’ go all week, and repeat the next Sunday.”
“My 2023 hair goal is to get back to my 2021 hair length! Recently, a hairstyle damaged my hair causing me to lose 4 inches in length, which was not fun. So I’m working on getting [my hair] back to its original health and keep growing from there! I am also looking forward to trying the Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie as a one-product wash n’ go! I hear such great things about it and I think it will give me hold while also keeping my hair lightweight and voluminous. I’m also excited about the Coconut & Hibiscus Defining Styling Gel and Edge Gel.”
Follow Jasmin on Instagram @slimreshae
Exclusive: Teyana Taylor And Director A.V Rockwell Explore Black Motherhood In New Film, 'A Thousand And One'
“This was a match made in denim and door-knocker heaven!” Actress Teyana Taylor jokingly said after letting out a laugh. She was referring to her relationship with the main character Inez De La Paz, in the film A Thousand and One, approaching theaters nationwide this Friday.
Set against the backdrop of 90s - early 2000s Harlem at the inception of gentrification, A Thousand and One chronicles the life of a 20-something-year-old mother of color raising her son. The film captures the realness and relatability of motherhood, family, and marriage. The movie stars multi-talented actress/entertainer Teyana Taylor, William Cartlett, Aaron Kingsley, Josiah Cross, Aven Courtney, and Terri Abney. It was executive produced by Lena Waithe and was written and directed by A.V. Rockwell.
This film was written through the lens of the often complicated relationship between mothers and sons. However, it isn't your typical movie about urban Black motherhood. No one gets shot, has a drug addiction, and if you ask me, Inez De La Paz (Teyana Taylor’s character) is a ‘shero’; she saves the day, or at least Terry’s life (her son).
This multilayered film touches on the challenges faced while establishing a life following a prison sentence, the flawed NYC foster care system, motherhood, marriage, love, the relationship between a father and son, and Black NYC neighborhoods at the onset of gentrification.
"There's a lot of pain in it, and in order to express pain, there has to be a love that comes with it. So I felt like the movie was a love letter to Black women but a heartbreak letter to New York City…. We contributed so much to the city and made it the special place that it is," said Rockwell. I asked myself, 'How do I reconcile the fact that this place that I love and that is home to me never loved me?'
Teyana Taylor and Aaron Kingsley Adetola.
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
Both Rockwell and Taylor are New York natives, Rockwell is from Queens, and Taylor is from Harlem. The pair agreed they directly related to the lead character, Inez. During our conversation, Taylor explained how we could all connect with Inez. "Inez is within us from being judged or considered difficult for your strength, for your voice, for your tone, no matter how right you are, you're wrong because you're too loud… When you minimize yourself, it's an issue. You're not enough, and when you maximize yourself, it's too much," she said.
According to Rockwell, Taylor auditioned for the role and earned it fair and square, "Nobody can take away from the fact that she earned this role in all the right ways. I think it's great to have that cherry on top. The fact that she's a Harlem girl and that this is a movie about protecting her neighborhood not only what it means to us New Yorkers but what it means to black identity and history in general," she said. "Not only are we honoring Harlem, [but] she is [also] a part of that history that we are trying to protect. I'm really proud of that as well. This person who is a part of this historic neighborhood gets to be the one leading the torch of this role."
We all know Taylor as the uber-talented singer, dancer, actress, fashionista, entrepreneur, artist, wife, and mother. She seems to do it all so effortlessly, but Taylor described the role as therapeutic. It allowed her to put down that superwoman persona while filming on set. "The easy part about this role was that I'm already a mom, so I'm naturally nurturing… In some ways, Inez became very therapeutic for me because it was the only time that I could actually be weak and turn off my strength, and cry and let out all of the things I was battling," the "Rose in Harlem" singer revealed.
Director A.V. Rockwell
Photo courtesy of Focus Feature Films
After watching Taylor master the leading role of this complicated story, it's not absurd to think she may be awarded extensively for her portrayal of Inez. Taylor told me she's ready for everything to come but isn't looking to get too comfortable while soaking up the likely inflow of accolades, "I'm ready. I think it's everything that I prayed for. I think this is God saying ok, here you go… I'm blessed, and I'm grateful, and I just want to continue to just keep working hard and not get too comfortable. Stay hungry, stay the hustler that I am…this is really only just the beginning."
It's not every day we get to see a film with a Black woman starring in a leading role. Furthermore, it's not common to see a Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize-winning movie directed by a Black woman. It's no secret that diversity in Hollywood is uncommon, and the aforementioned are all the more reasons we should visit theaters this Friday to see A Thousand and One.
Not only is this film amazing storytelling, but the production of this film helps to move the needle of diversifying Hollywood and creating spaces for Black women in the film industry forward.
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Feature image by Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for Focus Features