Exclusive: What Self-Care Looks Like To R&B Artist DaniLeigh
In xoNecole's Finding Balance, we profile boss women making boss moves in the world and in their respective industries. We talk to them about their business, and most of all, what they do to find balance in their busy lives.
DaniLeigh is single handedly responsible for one of the most frequently played tracks on my phone, "Lil' Bebe". It wasn't too long ago when Dani was landing dancing features for Nelly Furtado, Pharrell and Meghan Trainor, and serving as the choreographer, creative director and lead in Prince's "Breakfast Can Wait" music video at the age of 18.
Shortly after being signed to Def Jam and making her debut with her Summer With Friends EP in 2017, DaniLeigh has made splashes in the music industry as she collaborated with Chris Brown on certified gold single, "Easy," and G-Eazy on "Cravin". From dropping her own rendition of Bryson Tiller's TRAPSOUL to her Christmas-themed "Usually" music video, DaniLeigh has effortlessly displayed range, talent and badass energy in the music industry.
The proud Dominicana shows no signs of slowing up anytime soon as she gears up to release new music on the brink of the summer, hot on the heels of her latest smash "Levi High" featuring DaBaby. The 25-year-old singer-songwriter, dancer, creative director and choreographer recently spoke with xoNecole about how she manages all her mental health, balances her different hats and still manages to find time for herself.
Along with practicing moments of stillness and silence, watching a good show to wind down, and making time to reconnect with herself, here's how DaniLeigh finds balance:
xoNecole: In the midst of the coronavirus, how do you keep yourself pushing in a time where it's so easy to become unproductive? What is your why?
DaniLeigh: My 'why' right now is all based on not stopping my momentum. I like to find new ways to challenge myself so I won't become unproductive. An example of me finding new ways to be productive is working on the production side of my work. I've always had a hand in my creative process, but now I'm getting into more detailed things from lighting to types of cameras used for my content.
How do you balance being an artist, a dancer, a friend, a sister, a daughter and still have time to focus on your mental health?
I make sure that I talk to my family, and friends everyday to help keep me balanced while dealing with the industry. It's very important to me to talk to my close friends and family because they remind you of being human and being present outside the industry. Being present is super important in keeping your mental space free from depression.
"Being present is super important in keeping your mental space free from depression."
How do you snap yourself out of negative thoughts of yourself, your productivity, life, etc. and how do you remain positive?
I tend to remember the good in me to overshadow any negative thoughts that might creep into my mental space. It's easy to get lost in the opinions of others so it's important to stay connected with yourself.
What is a typical day in your life? If no day is quite the same, give me a rundown of a typical work week and what that might consist of.
I usually go to the gym in the morning, come home to gather my focus, then go right to the studio or rehearsals. I normally don't take too many breaks in-between these things, but if I do, then I'm usually shopping or getting my nails done, facials, or some sort of self-care. The studio is like my safe place; I could be in there anywhere from 6 to 14 hours at a time.
"The studio is like my safe place; I could be in there anywhere from 6 to 14 hours at a time."
When you have a busy week, what’s the most hectic part of it?
I would say the most hectic part is really trying to complete everything on a list from rehearsals and performing, to meetings and hair and makeup. I have a great team of people who help me manage day-to-day tasks so I don't get too overwhelmed. I use the Notes app on my phone because my team and I can share it with one another to make sure things are being completed.
What are your mornings like?
My mornings vary depending on my mood and the weather. If I wake up and it's a beautiful day outside, it gives me a sense of appreciation for life and it's easy to see the good in almost everything for me. When I wake up in bad moods, I will put on music that speaks to that mood and it'll usually inspire me to create, which always gets me out of a bad mood.
"If I wake up and it's a beautiful day outside, it gives me a sense of appreciation for life and it's easy to see the good in almost everything for me."
How do you wind down at night?
I like to watch a good movie or TV show to wind down. I recently completed the Powerseries, which had me on edge the whole time. I really love how well-written that show is. I'm currently looking for something new to dive into - any suggestions?
Do you practice any types of self-care? What does that look like for you?
Honestly, being in an environment where I can create is the ultimate self-care to me. I don't really have just one way in which I create - sometimes I'm alone, with close friends, or it's just the producer and myself. As long as the energy in the room is correct, my creativity can flow freely.
"Being in an environment where I can create is the ultimate self-care to me. I don't really have just one way in which I create - sometimes I'm alone, with close friends, or it's just the producer and myself. As long as the energy in the room is correct, my creativity can flow freely."
How do you find balance with:
I like to meet up with friends and hang out at either my house or theirs. It's so fun to do normal things like go out to eat, watch good movies, or have good conversation. It allows me to be present with some of the people closest to me.
I'm someone who loves love. When dating someone, I make them a priority as well as maintaining my career.
When balancing these things, I don't really think about trying to find time. It usually just flows nicely. My trainer has me do it all. I usually post my workouts on my Instagram live and I will have fans join me in the process so we can stay fit together.
Do you cook or find yourself eating out?
I recently started cooking more - I really enjoy it so much now. I feel like getting older has made me want to learn to cook more. I love making salmon, steaks, and anything involving breakfast. I have to look up some new recipes so I can know what would be interesting to cook.
Do you ever detox?
I have not detoxed in a while. When I detox, it's usually an easy process now since I've done it so many times. I tend to go on juice cleanses. I believe it's really important to detox to free your body of things that aren't good for you. You have to keep your body in shape to really enjoy this life experience.
When you are going through a bout of uncertainty, or feeling stuck, how do you handle it?
I talk to my brother Jackson II. Jackson is very to the point and speaks from a place of love. I know when he's telling me something, it's really for my benefit and nothing else. He really has me focus on self-love as well as family values.
Honestly, what does success mean to you? What does happiness mean to you?
These things mean accomplishing goals of self-love and giving real love in return.
For more of DaniLeigh, follow her on Instagram.
Featured image courtesy of DaniLeigh
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