I don't know if it's age, wisdom, experience or all three but, the older I get, the more aggressive I am about removing any person, place, thing or idea from my life that stresses me out. Yes, I am well aware of the fact that putting "aggressive" in the context of removing stress might seem like a bit of a contradiction, but you know what they say—if nothing changes…nothing changes. Sometimes—shoot, most times—you can't just "will" something to shift in your life. You've got to develop a mindset of progress, then follow that up with habits that will help you to evolve.
When it comes to stress, I've done my research. I'm aware that it is a leading cause of premature death. So yeah, I'm definitely out here looking for things that I can do in order to be anti-stressed out. One thing that might surprise you is, altering your diet a bit can do wonders for keeping you in a cool, calm and totally relaxed state of mind. If that's something you'd like a bit more of right through here, I've got eight foods that can help you to reach your goal.
If you've ever wondered what yogurt is, it's fermented milk that creates a yogurt culture which is basically a form of fermented lactose. As a result of the yogurt-making process, lactic acid is produced; it's what gives yogurt the taste and texture that it has. As far as health benefits go, yogurt is great because it's high in calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins B and D. This means that it's the kind of food that strengthens immunity and bones, as well as being high in protein and promoting heart and gut health.
The reason why yogurt makes this particular list is thanks to the magnesium (which is a natural nerve relaxant) that is in it. Plus, a study from several years back revealed that yogurt is wonderful at treating stress and anxiety because it can actually lower the levels of activity in the brain that are directly responsible for us feeling emotions and even certain levels of pain.
2. Dark Chocolate
It's kind of crazy that something so delicious can also be so good for you. If you make a point it eat a small piece of dark chocolate (that contains no less than 60-70 percent cocoa), you can improve your blood sugar levels, fight off free radicals, improve the appearance of your skin (thanks to the antioxidants that are in it), keep your cholesterol levels under control and reduce your chances of getting heart disease by as much as 57 percent. Because dark chocolate also has a pretty good reputation for improving cognitive function, if you find yourself feeling irritated or not being in the best of moods, a little bit of it may be all that you need to lift your spirits right on up.
Garlic is the kind of plant (that's a part of the onion family) that is used for all kinds of medicinal purposes. It shortens the lifespan of colds. It improves cholesterol levels. It helps to purify blood. It contains the type of antioxidants that help to prevent the type of oxidative damage that can ultimately lead to Alzheimer's disease and dementia. Speaking of oxidative damage, another benefit that comes with eating foods that reduce it is they can help to decrease stress levels in the body too. Plus, garlic can lower glucose levels which can also induce feelings of calm and tranquility.
4. Citrus Fruit
You probably already know that citrus fruit has lots of Vitamin C (which means tons of antioxidants). But that's not all. Citrus fruit is also high in fiber, reduces the risk of kidney stones, boosts heart health and strengthens your cognitive function. If you're feeling kinda stressed out, snacking on a few slices of orange or grapefruit, or even sipping on some water that has lemon and lime in it can reduce stress levels. Why? Because that is something that Vitamin C is naturally able to do. Matter of fact, if you'd rather go the aromatherapy route, orange essential oil can relieve anxiety and reduce some of the symptoms that are associated with panic attacks; grapefruit essential oil can help to keep you from feeling burned out and lemon oil can improve your mood and instantly make you feel more relaxed.
5. Bell Peppers
Whether they're red, orange, yellow or green, you are only doing your health a favor if you eat bell peppers on a regular basis. Not only do they contain vitamins A, C and E, they are also a vegetable that is loaded with fiber, folate and iron. On the health tip, bell peppers contain 30 different carotenoids (a type of plant chemicals) that help to keep your eyes healthy as they also fight off free radicals. Something else that's cool about red bell peppers specifically is, if you eat a cup of them, you'll get over 150 percent of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin C that you need.
Bell peppers are considered to be a "calming food" due to the Vitamin B6 that they have in them. It's the kind of vitamin that helps your brain to produce serotonin and norepinephrine so that you remain in a tranquil mood throughout the day and you're able to sleep more soundly at night.
6. Whole Grains
In a nutshell, whole grains are foods that consist of the entire grain—the bran, germ and endosperm. When you choose to eat whole grain foods, it can benefit you because, not only are whole grains packed with protein, fiber, antioxidants and B vitamins but whole grains can also lower your risk of type 2 diabetes and reduce chronic inflammation as well as support healthy digestion. If you consume whole grain popcorn, cereal, pasta or bread, another thing that whole grain can do is help to release serotonin into your system, causing you to feel happier and more at ease than before you ate it.
7. Tart Cherry Juice
Tart cherry juice is something that I am personally a big fan of. I like sour stuff so I will give you a heads up that it does have a bit of a "bite" to it. But, after a couple of cups, it's pretty easy to get used to. Anyway, this is a type of juice that is high in vitamins A and C. It also contains some manganese, potassium and Vitamin K. If you're an athlete, it's great at relieving muscle soreness. One study reveals that tart cherry juice can reduce inflammation that is related to arthritis. It's also the kind of juice that contains antioxidants that help to keep your brain in good condition. Drink it hot or cold before turning in at night and tart cherry juice will significantly increase your chances of getting a good night's sleep; that's thanks to the tryptophan and anthocyanins that's in it. Both of these compounds work together to create melatonin, which is a natural hormone in the body that helps to promote calm and ultimately, sleepiness.
There are several reasons why it can only work in your favor to snack on a handful of pistachios a couple of times a week. They are a pretty good source of protein and fiber. They're also high in copper (which is great if you're trying to fight premature greying the natural way). The health benefits of pistachios include the fact that they are loaded with antioxidants, they help to lower high blood pressure and cholesterol levels, and they have amino acid L-arginine in them. L-arginine is good because, when it changes over to nitric oxide in your system, not only can that increase blood circulation throughout your body, it can help your blood vessels to relax as well. Plus, being that pistachios contain more Vitamin B6 than most other foods, it's the kind of nut that can definitely keep you calm, cool and well-rested. Now, how about getting yourself a bag of 'em?
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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. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
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Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood