Grief is the space through which we process a multitude of emotions in the midst of loss. Many of us try to avoid it, but it is ultimately a necessary component of our healing.
Feelings can range from denial to depression; and while the only thing that makes grief easier to bear is having the ability to allow and accept, sometimes taking a moment to sit with our thoughts and feelings can be better than keeping busy in an effort to not face them.
I recently found myself dealing with my own personal feelings of grief after losing two people that I loved dearly in the course of a week. I wanted to push past the pain and get back to life as I knew it, but I knew that rushing the process would only make things worse. Since travel has always been a source of therapy for me, I decided to speak with a mental health professional about how a getaway or what some would call a "grief-cation" could help with my healing.
Dr. Shawnte Jenkins-Alexander is a counseling psychologist and says that people grieve for various reasons and in various ways, so understanding how a particular loss directly impacts you is key to knowing how you'll be able to cope. "For some people, traveling is like a spiritual experience. It puts people in a place of reflection and connecting with God, seeking answers from God and even being angry with God. Giving yourself permission to say what works for you may not work for someone else is important."
An example of that fact is Janice, a caregiver who's father passed away six years ago. For her, taking a "grief-cation" not only gave her peace and quiet, it allowed her to purge her feelings of pain without being interrupted. "I packed up my car and drove to Michigan. I bought wine, food and put my phone on 'do not disturb'. For years, I had been in the caregiver role and taking time away after my dad's passing helped me to release that role, journal my thoughts and be in a space where I could cry alone."
"It allowed me unfamiliar territory to talk to God about everything and express gratitude for the opportunity to care for my father the way I had cared for countless others."
Dr. Jenkins-Alexander believes that mindfulness and journaling while vacationing after a loss can give us new insights into ourselves and the world around us. "Sometimes going through a grief that seems so unbearable allows you to do things you never thought you'd do because you're almost moving through a space of being fearless now. Or visiting an undeveloped country can help you to reprioritize, see the world through a different set of eyes and show you that you still have a lot to be thankful for."
Moving through the grief process can oftentimes be a grueling experience. The only way to heal is to sit in the pain, having faith that eventually it will become more manageable.
They say that travel is the best way to be lost and found at the same time. For some, a vacation focused on navigating through a personal loss could be a cathartic option.
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Featured image by Getty Images
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Tiffany D. Smith is a TV journalist by day and food and travel influencer by night from Chicago, IL. Since being bitten by the travel bug a few years ago, she uses her blog TheLoveofFoodandTravel.com to encourage people to release their fears, step out of their comfort zones, and explore new places and great food. When Tiffany isn't working in live TV or blogging, she enjoys kickboxing, watching 70's shows, and spending time with friends and family. Keep up with her @loveoffoodandtravel on IG.
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.
Now that the fall season is officially settling its way on in, it’s time to ramp up on our favorite warm drinks. And while, for me, what tops the list is hot chocolate and apple cider, being that I grew up in a home that was consistently stocked with various kinds of herbal tea, that’s why I enjoy writing so much about tea (and all of the ways that it can benefit you) for this platform. I’ve written about teas that can improve your sex life (here), teas that are good for maintaining vaginal health (here), not-so-common teas that are beneficial for your overall health and well-being (here), and even teas that are perfect for this time of the year (here).
Yet one thing that I haven’t covered (until today) is the different types of tea that not only are delightful to consume during this time of the year, they are also able to get your hair right where you want it to be. And since cooler weather is typically what causes us to consider consuming tea more often — why not doubly bless yourself by stacking up on your own collection so that you cut the body chills and reach many of your hair goals at the same time, too?
1. Black Tea
Even though I’m a big fan of iced chai lattes (they contain black tea, which is why they’re relevant here), it wasn’t until I was doing some research on this topic that I discovered that black tea is currently the most popular tea worldwide. When you stop to think about the fact that black tea is good for you when it comes to lowering blood sugar levels, increasing your focus and productivity levels, making your gut healthier, decreasing your risk of a stroke, and keeping your cholesterol levels in check — you definitely should give black tea a try, if you haven’t already.
Why does your hair like it? The thing about teas is, whether you use them as an herbal hair rinse or you drink them, they can do wonders. For instance, not only is black tea loaded with antioxidants that can protect your hair from heat damage (the sun still shines during the fall and winter seasons), but it can also help to keep your scalp in great shape and reduce hair shedding. Not only that, but word on the street is, black tea is also beneficial when it comes to boosting your hair color and making your locks appear shiny (or shinier) too.
2. Rosemary Tea
Rosemary has so many uses. It’s used as a seasoning for food. It’s in many beauty products. And it definitely comes with quite a few impressive health benefits. Thanks to all of the antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties that it contains, rosemary aids in proper digestion, boosting cognitive function and even enhancing your memory. As far as vaginal health goes, rosemary oil can help to speed up the healing process of certain infections, and, skin-wise, it can help to boost hydration and elasticity.
Your hair will adore rosemary tea because its antifungal and antibacterial properties will keep your scalp healthy, reduce dandruff, and keep your scalp and hair moisturized while ultimately playing a role in promoting overall hair strength and growth.
3. Peppermint Tea
Peppermint tea is one of my faves, year-round. It’s probably because I’m such a fan of mint. Anyway, it’s able to soothe headaches and migraines, unclog your sinuses, help prevent bacterial infections, bring relief to menstrual cramps, decrease allergy-related symptoms, assist with weight loss, and also make it easier to fall (and stay) asleep.
The menthol in peppermint tea is why it gets a shout-out here. Whether you drink the tea or use it as a hair rinse, it will increase blood circulation to your scalp so that your hair follicles are able to get the nutrients that they need. Oh, and since peppermint oil has been proven to aid in hair growth, something tells me that the properties of peppermint tea are able to do the same.
4. Chamomile Tea
I wouldn’t be surprised at all if the first thing that comes to mind whenever you hear “chamomile tea” is that it helps you sleep. The backstory there is it contains an antioxidant called apigenin that helps to relax your system. Some other ways that chamomile is helpful are it reduces anxiety, regulates blood sugar levels, soothes an upset stomach, brings relief to period cramps, and can even help to reduce skin inflammation.
Since it’s a tea that is also filled with antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, if you’re looking for a way to keep your scalp in great shape from the inside out, chamomile tea is the one for you (as a hair rinse, it can help to prevent split ends too).
5. Oolong Tea
Oolong is a kind of Chinese tea that you definitely should have in your own tea collection. For starters, if you’re looking for a coffee alternative that will provide you with a solid caffeine boost, oolong has more caffeine in it than even green tea does. Interestingly enough, even though it can give you more energy, oolong also contains the amino acid L-theanine which is a pretty effective de-stressor. Some other bonuses about this particular tea are that it helps to naturally protect against diabetes-related complications, plays a role in burning body fat, and even aids in strengthening teeth and bones.
As a rinse, oolong tea has a reputation for helping to prevent hair loss. Whether you pour it on your tresses or drink it, oolong can help to bring strength and shine to your locks over time. Also, whether you’re drinking it or applying it as a hair rinse, it will boost blood circulation — and that will help to strengthen your hair follicles so that they remain nice and strong.
6. Calendula Tea
Another tea that’s filled with antioxidants is calendula tea. Between that and all of the anti-inflammatory properties that it contains, you can rely on this tea to reduce oxidative stress. Some other great things about calendula are it has antifungal and antimicrobial properties that can help to fight off yeast infections and early signs of gum disease. And if you’re looking for an herbal tea that will help to slow down the signs of aging, it’s able to do that as well.
On the hair front, if what you want, more than just about anything in this world right now is a natural tea remedy that will help you to combat frizz; calendula can assist with making your cuticles smoother as well as shinier.
7. Red Clover Tea
If any of the teas on this list is hailed as a “women’s tea,” it would have to be red clover. That’s because it contains isoflavones, which mimic estrogen, which can make menopause-related symptoms easier to bear. Some other cool things about this particular tea are it helps to lower cholesterol levels, strengthens your heart, and can support bone health as you age.
Your hair? Your hair will like the properties of red clover because the antioxidants in it can also help menopausal women maintain the appearance and texture of their locks once their estrogen levels begin to decline (due to menopause).
8. Hibiscus Tea
Probably the most colorful tea out of the bunch is hibiscus tea. It’s a beautiful bright red hue that also benefits you in a lot of ways. Not only does its antibiotics help to reduce bodily inflammation, it also helps to lower blood pressure and cholesterol levels. Plus, hibiscus aids in fighting off bad bacteria (like E.coli) and keeping your liver in good working condition.
Since this is a type of tea that has calcium, iron, and vitamin C in it, it can be beneficial for hair growth because they all help with the process of growing healthy and long hair. Calcium helps to strengthen your hair follicles, iron helps to reduce hair loss and shedding and vitamin C helps to produce collagen; collagen keeps elasticity in your hair which ultimately results in less breakage. Collagen also helps to slow down premature graying which is always a bonus.
9. Nettle Tea
Although it’s not the type of tea that makes most people’s top 10 list, that doesn’t make it any less beneficial…for a myriad of reasons. If you’re someone who battles with allergies (especially around this time of the year), you want to naturally boost your immune system, you’re looking for relief from arthritic pain, and/or you’re recovering from a urinary tract infection (UTI), nettle tea has your back in all over these instances.
When it comes to your hair, if you’re looking for a tea that contains properties that will help to strengthen your tresses and stimulate hair growth, nettle is also gaining traction on being a solid tea for those things. For the record, as an herbal rinse, it can bring relief to scalp irritation, too.
10. Sage Tea
If minty-meets-slightly-bitter is your thing, sage tea is ideal. Health-wise, it can do everything from improve your cognitive function and put you in a better mood to regulate your blood sugar levels and ease morning sickness. Since sage, in general, contains antimicrobial properties, sage tea can also help you to maintain good oral hygiene, and since it also mimics estrogen, some menopausal women are fans of it as well.
In some ways, I saved the best for last when it comes to hair because sage has a great reputation for helping to prevent hair loss, restoring shine to your locks, stimulating hair growth, and keeping grays from looking quite so obvious.
Gee, how could you not want to run out to your local health food store to get you a few of these? Now that it’s time to start doing some layering (of clothes), adding more (warm) tea to your life is money well spent — head to toe. Literally.
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Featured image by Aja Koska/Getty Images