Let me just hit you with the real—stress kills. That's not an exaggeration either. Headaches, heart disease, diabetes, obesity and even depression are all things that, not only are oftentimes brought on by stress but are also made worse when we don't get our stress levels down. That's why, the older (and prayerfully wiser) I get, the more I make sure that if there's one thing I won't let get to me, it's stress. That requires making sure that the people, places, things and even ideas that try and get me all shook up and frazzled are monitored closely. The stuff that I honestly don't have to deal with, I don't. The things that I do, I set boundaries and also monitor how much time I engage. Because nothing and/or no one is worth having a nervous breakdown over, simply because I didn't know how to manage my stress well.
In walks, the focus for this piece. If you know that you're someone who lets stress get to you, far more than it ever should, here are 10 practical ways to keep outside stresses from totally wrecking your insides. Because sis, it's really not worth it. Not at all.
There's a Scripture in the Bible that says, "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed, and be still. Selah." (Psalm 4:4—NKJV) I like that a lot because some "super churchy folks" think that meditating isn't a "Christian" thing to do. The Bible actually shouts out meditating quite a bit (the word "meditate" is mentioned in the NKJV of the Good Book 20 times). I get why too when you factor in that mediating promotes emotional stability, reduces anxiety, lengthens your attention span, boosts your libido, helps you to breathe better and yes, reduces stress (and that's just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the good that meditation provides!). So, if you're someone who knows that you let outside stressors get to you, way more than you should, start off each day by meditating 15 minutes or so. Just getting calm and quiet as you deeply breathe in and out can center you in a way that nothing else can.
2. Keep a Stress Diary
OK, so where's your journal at? Today, we're gonna tackle how it can be used to combat stress. By using it to jot down the specific times and instances that caused you to feel stressed out, it can help you to better understand your triggers so that you can work towards deactivating them more effectively. Basically, what you do is, either at the beginning or end of your day, you recap the past 24 hours. Write down the date and instance that stressed you. Then rate on a scale of 1-10 how it made you feel. After that, on a scale of 1-10 again, also write down how you feel about the matter now and what you did in order to feel less upset/anxious/worried about it. If the number hasn't gone down any notches, express, on paper, why that is the case. Finally, write down some things that you think could help you to de-stress and handle the situation more effectively—both now and in the future.
If you do this consistently, not only will you probably start to see patterns that lead to your stress but you'll (hopefully) be able to come up with remedies that can help you to let go of your stress a lot quicker too. If you want to learn more about how to create a stress diary, there's a pretty thorough read about it here.
3. Honor Your Own Love Language
Over on this platform, we write about love languages quite a bit. Just as a quick review, there are (basically) five of 'em—words of affirmation, quality time, physical touch, acts of service and gifts. All of these define different ways that we prefer to have love expressed to us best. But have you ever thought to ask yourself if you are fluent in speaking your own love language…to yourself? For instance, the two languages that basically run neck and neck for me are words of affirmation and physical touch. Because that is the case, something that I make a point and practice to do more is hype my own self up (one way to do that is by checking out the article, "Every Woman Should Write A Love Letter To Themselves"). I also find positive quotes, I focus on maintaining a healthy body image and I sometimes even audibly tell myself what I appreciate about my uniqueness and individuality. On the physical touch tip, the route I take is giving myself scalp massages and enjoy soaking in the tub (to some 90s R&B).
And what if your love languages are one of the other three? Quality time can be about getting off of social media and/or turning off your phone so that you can binge-watch a favorite show, read or zone out to one of your favorite throwback music playlists. Acts of service can be something like creating a to-do list so that you aren't always rushing to get things done. And gifts? I am a huge advocate of setting aside money, every payday, that goes to nothing but frivolous spending.
Love languages are dope, but they are most effective when you speak them to yourself before speaking them to others. I can most definitely promise you that.
4. State Your Boundaries (CLEARLY)
Think about the last time that you were stressed out to the point of being totally pissed off. I would be floored if it didn't have something to do with someone violating your boundaries on some level. After all, it can't be—pardon the pun—stressed enough that boundaries are limits and limits are oftentimes put into place so that you're not pushed past what you can handle at any given point and time. If you're like me and you grew up in an environment where your boundaries were constantly violated and/or dismissed, you might not really understand how to create them as an adult; this is how a lot of people can end up taking advantage of you. So, one day this weekend, take a moment to think about what your limits are vs. what they should be in order for you to maintain some level of inner peace. If that's spending less time with toxic family members, so be it. If that's releasing so-called friends who are proving to be more like foes, do that (check out "10 Signs You've Got A Close (TOXIC) Friend"). If that means moving on from your emotionally abusive boss, take that leap of faith.
In some ways, life is too short for drama. But in others, I also agree with Chris Rock when he said in the movie, I Think I Love My Wife, sometimes life can also seem really long. Yet, regardless of your personal take, who wants to spend all of their days stressed all of the time, no matter how short or long time seems to be? Personally, my life has improved, exponentially so, since I've drawn some limits on how I allow people to talk to me and/or treat me. And because of that, stress doesn't transpire nearly as much as it used to. (Hmph. Funny how that works, huh?)
5. Don’t Expect People to Be Like You
A personal lesson that has been oh so very freeing for me is getting to a point and place where I stopped expecting people to think or act like I do. Man, did I spend (and oftentimes waste) a lot of time trying to get over the shock that folks I knew wouldn't approach matters in the same way as I did. And when I wouldn't let that reality go, it really would make my blood boil and totally stress me out to no end. The thing about individuality is it means that all of us are different. That doesn't automatically mean that when someone is wired in another way that they are "bad" or "wrong"; they're just different.
A good example of this is, the last boyfriend I will ever have in this lifetime, he wasn't big on commemorating special days. Meanwhile, I'm a Gemini. If you don't get what that means, many of us tend to be on-10 about celebrating things like birthdays and anniversaries. So, while I typically took it over the top on his birthday and our anniversary, for pretty much our entire relationship, as far as how he approached my days, I was very much so less than impressed. To be fair, he was pretty good when it came to speaking my love languages, yet I still resented him for not thinking like I did on the celebratory tip. It's a part of what caused our disagreements and ultimately, what ended our relationship.
In hindsight, I get that if I had spent more time deciding if I wanted to be with someone who thought like he did rather than trying to turn him into another me, we both would've been much happier. Definitely, a huge cause of outside stress is trying to make people be you when that isn't realistic or fair. And honestly, it can lean towards the arrogant side too. Either accept folks as they are or shift the dynamic. Accepting this as being your two choices will make your life flow so much smoother.
6. Manage Your Time Wisely
If humans are getting on your very last nerve, one way to balance all of that stress out is to prioritize your time. Have a time set aside for your priorities, a time set aside to spend quality time with your family and friends, and time set aside for social media. While some people frown on creating weekly schedules, you might be surprised by how helpful it can be to wake up every day, knowing exactly what you plan to do, and what can/should be put on hold until another day. That way, if people, places, things or even ideas that aren't on your schedule try and shake your peace, you can remind yourself that if they were pertinent, they would've been on your list. Since they're not, they can wait until later. And the really great thing about the word "later" is getting to it is totally up to you.
7. Control ONLY What YOU Can Control
I'm pretty sure you've heard the phrase, "Don't sweat the small stuff". A good example of not doing that is making the choice to not try and be a control freak or worry wart out here. As someone who is a recovered control freak (for the most part, anyway), I can't tell you how freeing it has been to really accept the fact that, at the end of the day, all that I can really control is myself. No matter what or who has the potential to bother ("Gaslighting, Love Bombing & 5 Other Triggers To Call Out In Your Relationships") or trigger me (check out "How To Handle Folks Who 'Trigger' You"), they can only affect—or infect—me as much as I allow them to. Not only that but, when I've done the absolute best that I can (not based on anyone's standards but the Most High's and my own), then…what else can be done? On my end? Nothing.
If a lot of us were really real with ourselves, we'd admit that a lot of the outside stress that bothers us comes from us trying to take on what is either none of our business or is out of our hands. If you don't get anything else out of this, get that controlling self only is a superpower when it comes to no longer stressing yourself out.
One of the main reasons why a lot of people find themselves stressed out to the point where they almost feel like they're about to lose it is because they internalize their feelings and frustrations rather than vent them. Believe it or not, venting is actually really good for you because it helps you to release negativity, bring balance back to your mental and emotional state and, when you're doing it in a safe space (like in the presence of a friend who you fully trust), sometimes you can hear another perspective that can help to bring about clarity. The problem is, a lot of people hold stuff in so long that, when they do let everything out, it can be at the wrong place and at the wrong time.
I will admit that it requires quite a bit of self-awareness to know when you're almost at your breaking point. But try and make it a practice of getting to a place where you are totally alone to scream out your angst or hitting up a friend before snapping at work, on your kids or you're at a place that is totally inappropriate. Otherwise, all you'll be doing is adding to your stress rather than taking it away.
From a biblical perspective, the Bible is quite clear. If you want God to forgive you, you must forgive others (Matthew 6:14-15). I know that can be hard for a lot of people to accept but, as I continue to learn more about this forgiveness thing, I get that accepting what the Word says on it is a humbling experience. None of us are perfect and all of us need forgiveness. And beyond that, a quote on forgiveness that comes to mind is, "Forgive others, not because they deserve forgiveness. Forgive them just because you deserve peace." (I think a man by the name of Jonathan Lockwood Huie said it.) And you know what? This statement is 1000 percent true.
It's been my personal experience that people who don't know how to forgive (or feel like someone doesn't deserve forgiveness) seem to struggle a lot more with true inner peace than those who do forgive others. I think it's because a lot of folks who don't, they think that forgiveness means excusing bad behavior or giving the person who hurt or harmed them a pass. No, forgiveness means that you get that humanity can disappoint, but nothing is worth holding onto pain for so long that it shakes your own mental stability and emotional space. Unforgivingness typically breeds all kinds of anger and/or sadness and/or stress and anxiety. So, release who and what has offended you so that you can get back to feeling totally tranquil and calm, within yourself, again.
Get No Less Than Six Hours of Sleep
One more. I've got a friend who is the most pleasant person you'd ever wanna know. They will give you their left thumb if you really need it. I'm not playing. But man, if they go a good three days without at least six hours of sleep, they suddenly turn into Grendel's mother (you know, from Beowulf). I'm. Not. Kidding. We're not created to be sleep deprived yet, unfortunately, reportedly, 1 in 3 of us do not get enough rest. And since sleep deprivation leads to things like irritability, lack of focus and concentration, mood swings, anxiety, weak immunity, accidents and a sucky sex life—how could you not think that poor sleeping habits wouldn't lead to you being completely stressed out?
Words can't express what a night of uninterrupted sleep can do for a person. So, if you know that stress is something that you struggle with, make getting more sleep a top priority. It's one of the most effective ways to woosah your way through life—no matter who or what has the potential to stress you…on the outside of your own mind, heart and home's walls.
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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 masturdating? 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 masturdating 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 Masturdating All About?
Masturdating. 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 masturdating 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 masturdating 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 masturdating first and the most. Why? Off top, I’ll share my three good reasons.
3 Reasons To Strongly Consider Masturdating
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 masturdating 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” Masturdating
So, what if you’re someone who has either never considered actually masturdating 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 masturdating 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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