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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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.
Imma tell y’all what — it seems like not one week goes by when I don’t see some sort of so-called term that has me like, “What in the world?” For instance, when I first stumbled upon “self-partnering,” honestly, I laughed. Then shared it with some other single people as well as married folks I know. And I kid you not, every individual was like, “What the heck does that mean?” When I told them that it was yet, one more way to seemingly define single living, basically everyone’s follow-up was, “Oh, brother.”
Why can’t (more) singles just be single and be okay with that? Good Lord. Why does there need to be some sort of relational play-on-words to make it sound like we’re with someone — even if we’re not?
Now masterdating? Even though it’s not even close to being a “real” word, it’s something that also brought a laugh outta me — although it was then followed by a genuine smile. The laugh because I almost immediately caught the play-on-words. The smile was due to the intention behind it all.
If you’re not familiar with what masterdating is and you’re curious about why you should even care, take a few moments to at least skim through what it’s about and why I think participating, as a single person, is a pretty cool (and effective) concept.
Masturdate: a date w oneself
What’s Masterdating All About?
Masterdating. Okay, so let the word marinate for just a moment. What does it sound like? Yeah…exactly. And since a huge part of masturbation centers around self-pleasure, it’s cool to explore how “self-dating” could produce similar (as far as pleasure is concerned in a broader sense) results. Because masterdating is all about spending quality time with yourself, pampering yourself, treating yourself— and yes, taking yourself out on dates.
Any of you who may think that masterdating is a consolation prize — and a pitiful one at that — for not being able to go out with another human being or get that dream $200 first date that social media was all in a tizzy about last year (bookmark that) — personally, I think that you’re the demographic who needs to try out masterdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masterdating
1. It’s an intimate way to get to know yourself better. I’ve been working with couples for a pretty long time at this point and if there’s a pattern that I see arise, OFTEN, it’s that two people are oftentimes so busy trying to “find their person” that they didn’t even know who they were. As a direct result, they found themselves in a relationship with someone who only complemented the “kiddie pool version” of who they were.
That’s why it can be so beneficial to spend time getting to know yourself on the “deep end” of things: what makes you tick, what your passions are, what you want most out of life, what are your interests beyond obvious things — and masterdating can help you to discover all of this. Whether it’s traveling alone or taking out a weekend to drink some wine and journal, the more you get to know yourself, the clearer you’ll be about who complements you on a romantic and friendship level.
2. It will definitely help to boost your confidence levels. I guess since I’m an ambivert, I don’t really get why people freak out at the mere thought of going to a restaurant or movie alone. Personally, I think it requires a helluva lot more energy and gumption to wait around and plan stuff with other people (#Elmoshrug). However, whether you’re an introvert, extrovert, or ambivert, there’s no way around the fact that the more comfortable you get with doing things alone, the more your confidence levels will increase — no, soar — because of it.
One article that I read on the topic said that doing things alone can make you more creative, improve your mental health, and help you to be totally okay with being alone (so that you’re not “needy” for other people’s attention). A psychotherapist from a New York Times article on the benefits of spending time alone said, “Getting better at identifying moments when we need solitude to recharge and reflect can help us better handle negative emotions and experiences, like stress and burnout.” And when you’re able to stare negativity in its face without flinching, how could that not make you bolder, more self-secure, and hopeful about your life?
3. It will teach you to value your time more effectively. In every facet of your world, you’re gonna operate from a healthier place if you’re operating from a “full cup” rather than an empty one. When it comes to this topic, think about it — if you’re constantly waiting on someone to call you to go out or wishing for a dream date with some guy, all you’re doing is wasting precious time that you could be spending taking a cooking class or hell, hiring a chef to make you dinner at your own home.
Indeed, waiting has two sides to it: when it’s in the form of patience, it is indeed a virtue, yet when it’s wrapped up in the notion that you’re not really living life unless you have an audience…it is totally working against you. Choose wisely.
10 Solo Date Ideas To Help You To “Master” Masterdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masterdating before or you don’t really know what to do beyond dinner and the movies? Here are a few ideas to consider:
1. Attend a workshop or masterclass that you’re interested in. If there’s something that you’ve always wanted to learn, sign up for a workshop or masterclass. The cool thing about this option is there are probably some in your city, as well as some that you can find online (like here) that are convenient and affordable.
2. Binge-read at a local coffee shop. Aside from their coziness and oftentimes inviting scents, I once read that a lot of us gravitate to coffee shops because we can be around people without having to actually socialize with them. So, if you want to “hang out” while still being able to enjoy a bit of solitude, take a book that you’ve been trying to finish to a local coffee shop, order your favorite latte, and sit in a big-ass comfy chair. Usually, you can sit there for hours, and the staff will be just fine with it (another bonus).
3. Have a spa day in the next town. You can never go wrong with a spa day. And while going with a friend can be fun, sometimes there’s too much talking transpiring to be able to fully chill out and relax. So, go off of the grid, get a change of scenery, and hit up a spa in the next city (or town). There are lots of studies out here supporting that day trips or “daycations” can actually be really good for your long-term health and well-being.
4. See a community play. Some of the best solo dates that I’ve ever been on consisted of taking in some of the local arts in my city. What’s really cool about this particular option is, oftentimes, they are extremely inexpensive, if not totally free of charge (in exchange for making a donation or putting money into a tip jar).
5. Plan a trip. Whenever people say something along the lines of, “If you don’t expect anything, you won’t be disappointed,” I know that they low-key have some (additional) healing to do from past disappointments. There’s simply too much intel out here to support that anticipation (of good stuff) makes us more motivated and optimistic, keeps our dopamine levels up, and makes life more exciting overall.
Since traveling alone is more cost-effective, gives you the freedom to do whatever you want (when you want), and increases the possibility of meeting new people and having new experiences on your journey — why not devote a day this weekend to planning a solo trip? All the way around, it’s good for you.
6. Try your hand at your own “$200 date.” Uh-huh. Roll your eyes if you want to, but it’s real easy to talk left about how a man should be able to just drop $200 like it’s nothing…until you actually try to do it. So yes, while taking yourself out on this type of date could serve as a bit of a reality check, it can also “scratch the itch” of waiting on some dude to do it for you. It’s also way less emotionally draining because, at least when you’re taking your own self out, it’s guaranteed that you’ll enjoy the company…right?
7. DIY some pampering. When you get a chance, check out “5 Reasons You Should Unapologetically Pamper Yourself,” “Want To Love On Yourself? Try These 10 Things At Home.,” “I’ve Got Some Ways For You To Start Pampering Your Soul,” and “When's The Last Time You Actually Pampered Your Vagina?” The bottom line here is pampering is all about, not mere self-maintenance; it’s all about treating yourself to levels of EXTREME SELF-INDULGENCE. So, if nothing else tickles your fancy on this list, at least consider doing that, chile.
8. Feed your creativity. Something that I used to be really good at is art. That said, one of my goddaughters is insanely talented, so she has reminded me to tap back into it. Also, a big part of what got me into the writing world is poetry; I actually used to be a house poet at a local spot. Sometimes, my best quality time moments with myself have been revisiting these creative sides of me — and this is definitely easier to do (and enjoy) alone.
9. Try some stargazing. When’s the last time you took a blanket into your backyard, laid down on it, and just stared at the stars for hours on end? While some say that stargazing can teach you to be mindful, others say that being in that form of nature reduces stress, while others believe that looking up at the universe at night can increase your attention span. All solid reasons to give it a shot, if you ask me.
10. DO. ABSOLUTELY. NOTHING. Let me tell you something that nobody will ever be able to make me feel bad about: doing absolutely nothing. I’ve got data to back me up. Good Housekeeping shares that doing nothing can help you decide how you want to respond or react to certain things. I like howThe Guardian says that taking this approach helps you to regain control of what you give your attention to.
TIME magazine says that it can ultimately make you more productive.BBC offers up that it can help you tap into your ingenuity.Henry Ford Health says that it can make you kinder and a better problem-solver. So, if you want to invest in yourself, do nothing sometimes.
Closing Thoughts from the Lovely Javicia Leslie
While some of y'all may know Javicia Leslie from being the former Batwoman, I discovered her back in the day from the indie series Chef Julian (and yes, "Julian" was right to say that "Mo" looks like Tatyana Ali...the real ones know). Sometimes I'll hop on her IG to see what she's got going on and this story popped up within a few hours of me penning this...so, I took it as hella confirmation.
TREAT YO SELF. WAIT FOR NO ONE.
WAIT FOR NO ONE. TREAT YO SELF.
RINSE AND REPEAT.
Sooo…what kind of masterdating plans do you have for this coming weekend? While going out with others has its perks, hanging out with yourself has a ton of ‘em too. Enjoy!
No…for real. ENJOY!
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