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4 Wellness Trends You Might Want To Add To Your Self-Care Practice

If it's time for an upgrade or refresh in self-care, try a few of these.

Wellness

Wellness seems to be the "it" buzzword of the day, but it's not something to take lightly. As Black women, it's important to be able to tap into what keeps us happy, mentally balanced, and all-around good. And while beauty and fashion are important aspects of life, there are a few trends we all should at least consider in order to not only stay on top of what keeps us ticking, but also upgrade out of the obligatory coach seat of that wellness journey.


Here are four trends that might be your perfect intro to a new way to approach wellness and meet the needs of that glow up you've been experiencing (or are set to achieve) this year:

Holistic Fitness & Wellness That's Personalized

When many of us hear the word "fitness" or "wellness," we often think of going to the gym, getting our usual physicals or pap smears, and making an appointment with a therapist. Today's trends take things a bit further, incorporating activities and methods that get beyond the usual preventative care and get more customized and personal, with vaginal and sexual wellness being a huge part of it. It's all about customized nutrition plans and workouts via apps like PlateJoy or Yummly or workouts tailored to your personal goals, unique interests, and a focus on self-love and care.

Hotels are also investing in offering sexual wellness retreats and spas that focus on issues like tapping into intimacy, utilizing fitness activities to combat postpartum challenges, and increasing arousal, a healthy part of both partnered and solo sex as well as relationships.

Suppositories and probiotic pills are nothing new, but Black- and women-owned companies are offering other innovations in products that enhance both inside and out, including The Honey Pot's Boric Acid And Herbs Suppositories used for balancing vaginal PH, Love Wellness's Probiotics Kits for intimate and gut health, or Kushae's Feminine Skin Balm made just for the skin in your nether regions).

Animal Support For Mental Wellness

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More than 25 million households added a new pet to their families during the pandemic according to a recent study, and many saw the emotional and mental benefits of having them. You might have heard of emotional support animals and raised an eyebrow in disbelief, but research has shown that animals positively affect your mood, balance, happiness, and empathy functions, especially for many still dealing with stress and anxiety related to the pandemic. (And in most cases, emotional support animals are part of a therapy plan spearheaded and monitored by a mental health professional.)

For dog-lovers, walking, running, swimming, and even doing yoga with their pets, for example, have been popular fitness activities that provide a fun way to not only stay active but ensure your pet is healthy, too. Playing games as well as utilizing pet-friendly fitness equipment are also other trends that add animals to your routine. And if a dog or cat is not an option for you, there are several other options that might be more feasible, affordable, and manageable based on your lifestyle. Caring for them can be a great way to ease your mind, add a calming routine to your day, and incorporate practices that contribute to your overall well-being.

Innovations In Menstruation

Cycle tracking and syncing have been found, in some cases, to have major wellness benefits and it's a trend that's gaining traction. It involves getting in tune with your body, finding out the best nutrition options for you, and keeping track of your menstrual ebbs and flows (literally) so that you can be better able (along with the help of a medical professional of your choice) to figure out any issues that might arise related to your period and reproductive health. This is well beyond just logging your cycles and tolerating them. Trends point further into empowering yourself, being more strategic, and figuring out the best plan of action to be your best self during your period.

Apps like Aavia (launched by a company that offers a Smart Pill Case, a smart device that helps you keep track of your birth control routine) have options for hormonal health solutions supported by femtech developments, and platforms like Hued provide a seamless and easy way to find Black and "culturally competent" specialists and doctors via a directory.

Maternity Tribes, Plant-Based Remedies & Connections

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From communities of Black doulas and maternity consultants to virtual and in-person mommy retreats and mommy spas, more and more spaces are thriving and expanding to give Black mothers and mothers-to-be the space to use their voice and advocate for one another and share healthcare and wellness resources. Apps like Meet Akina also provide connection and networking opportunities for moms. While there's still more work to be done to address maternal health and the disparities Black women face in the areas of premature births, stillbirths, and horrific hospital experiences, this is one trend that's growing more.

Vaginal personal care products like Ebi's plant-based oils and herbal bath mixes are being touted as great additions to one's day, weekend, or nighttime bathing routines especially those related to postpartum wellness, and vulva care is also on the agenda, with companies like Private Packs offering discreet hot and cold remedy methods for relaxation, pain or inflammation.

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Jamie Foxx and his daughter Corinne Foxx are one of Hollywood’s best father-daughter duos. They’ve teamed up together on several projects including Foxx’s game show Beat Shazam where they both serve as executive producers and often frequent red carpets together. Corinne even followed in her father’s footsteps by taking his professional last name and venturing into acting starring in 47 Meters Down: Uncaged and Live in Front of a Studio Audience: All in the Family and Good Times as Thelma.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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TW: This article may contain mentions of suicide and self-harm.

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