Stress is a common part of living, especially when it comes to work. For women, the impact can be felt even more due to workplace issues including unequal pay, gender discrimination, and race-related aggressions. In fact, research shows that professional women experience more stress than men, with a 46% prevalence for those employed full-time (versus 42% for men).
Many toxic factors in the workplace are part of systemic problems that require address and resolution. On the other hand, some stressors are simply part of the job and are a normal occurrence, especially for certain occupations. Thus, finding ways to manage stress is super-important for all the women who are bossing up, who love what they do, and who want to continue thriving in their careers. There are meetings to lead, deals to close, and people to serve.
For those days when having a meltdown and saying 'To hell with this job,' is not an option, here are five quick steps you can take to keep it together when work is trying your nerves and pushing you to the limit:
1. Get into breathwork.
Practicing methods like breathing retention can do wonders for coping with stress. (And this goes beyond just taking a few deep breaths). Sitting for a 10- to 15-minute session of deliberate action to control your breathing, center your thoughts and relax your jaw, shoulder, and back, has been found to help release feelings of stress and take control of your body.
Stress can trigger physical and mental reactions like decreases in energy, diarrhea or constipation, forgetfulness, and headaches, and nobody has time for that when trying to ace a presentation or practice healthy management habits. You can take a quick break, right in your office, find a quiet spot near your job, or even use your car for that impromptu breathwork session, allowing time and space for refreshing your mind, body, and spirit.
2. Journal about your stress triggers.
Yes, while at work. Writing down exactly what's triggering you or simply getting your thoughts out of your head can provide just the relief you need to get to the end of the day without going off of somebody or mentally detaching yourself. You surely don't want to do this on your company-owned computer, nor do you want to have sticky notes thrown around your office with your personal thoughts and triggers listed on them, but you can definitely use that Notes or journal app on your phone to type out a few thoughts or keep a mini book in your purse or car for purging.
With "expressive writing intervention," (i.e. journaling), you can improve your mood and see long-term positive results related to anxiety and stress. Don't know where to start or find journaling overwhelming? Try prompts that will help guide you in formulating your thoughts, facilitating calm, and redirecting your focus.
3. Take a fitness break.
Doing some sort of physical activity can also be the perfect release you need for shaking off stress during your work day. If you can take a whole 30-minute break (in addition to your usual lunch break, which you should be taking regardless of your work schedule or responsibilities), use the time for some HIIT, boxing, yoga, running, or walking. For options that are a bit more low-key or cubicle-friendly, try low-impact exercises such as seated jacks or side skaters or movements like tricep stretches that can relieve back and neck pain associated with stress.
Find a great podcast, audiobook, or playlist to listen to while doing this, put a timer on, and allow yourself some time for activity that will increase endorphins (which are behind positive emotions and feelings).
4. Incorporate play into your day.
If you're not into actual workouts in the middle of a work day, try something fun that gets you away from your desk and into some sort of activity that makes your heart sing and allows you to, again, refocus your efforts in order to manage stress. A dance break, playing a game outdoors (i.e. solo basketball, soccer, or tennis), or incorporating fun games in your office decor (like a mini golf game or adult hopscotch).
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5. Spark a discussion with your trusted mentor, HR professional, team, or colleague in a solutions-focused way.
While confiding in a coworker, HR professional, or manager can have its pros and cons and can seem intimidating, talking about what's stressing you out in a way that prioritizes solutions and open dialogue can help you find solutions or at least a way to cope. This is most fitting when the source of stress involves the completion of a project, troubleshooting how to tackle a major work-related issue, addressing a difficult interaction with a team member, learning a new system or skill, or breaking through communication barriers.
When appropriate (and within your company's rules about fraternizing, hours, and interactions), invite a mentor or colleague to coffee, lunch, or dinner. If you're a manager, schedule a meeting with your team or host one-on-ones to focus not on venting, disciplining, or complaining, but on personal engagement. It's a good idea to ask open-ended questions like "How would you approach this issue?" "How can we make a process more efficient?" "What resources do we need to work smart, not hard?" versus "This is stressing me out," "Quiet Quitter Kelly is getting on my nerves" or "You're not doing your part."
Oftentimes, there's a way to eliminate stress related to certain aspects of a job simply by having honest and inclusive conversations, acting on recommendations, shifting processes, tracking results, and recognizing the ways in which workplace practices, habits, and culture might be adding unnecessary stress and confusion to everyday workday tasks.
Trying these five steps can ensure you are your best self, you're able to empower others, and that you can sustain a long and healthy career full of fulfillment and legacy.
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Unapologetically, Chlöe: The R&B Star On Finding Love, Self-Acceptance & Boldly Using Her Voice
On set inside of a mid-city Los Angeles studio, it’s all eyes on Chlöe. She slightly shifts her body against a dark backdrop amidst camera clicks and whirs, giving a seductive pout here, and piercing eye contact there. Her chocolate locs are adorned with a few jewels that she requested to spice up the look, and on her shoulders rests a jeweled piece that she asked to be turned around to better showcase her neck (“I feel a bit old,” she said of the original direction). Her shapely figure is tucked into a strapless bodysuit with a deep v-neck that complements her décolletage.
Though subtle, her quiet wardrobe directives give the air of a woman who’s been here before, and certainly knows what she’s doing. At 24 years young, she’s a “Bossy” chick in training— one who’s politely unapologetic and learning the power of her own voice.
“I'm hesitant sometimes to truly speak my mind and speak up for myself and what I believe,” she later confessed to me a couple of weeks after the photoshoot. “It's always scary for me, but now I'm realizing that I have to, in order to gain respect as a Black woman— a young Black woman— who's still navigating who she is. And you know, I'm realizing that closed mouths don't get fed. And if I keep my mouth shut just because I'm afraid of what people's opinions of me will be or turn into, then that's not any way to live.”
For Chlöe, the journey into womanhood is about embracing who she is, without succumbing to the perceptions of what others think of her. From the waist up she’s everything you’d imagine. A gorgeous goddess with the kind of sex appeal that some work hard to embrace but fail to exude. But unbeknownst to anyone not on set, her bottom half is covered by a white robe, surprising coming from the girl who boasts “'Cause my booty so big, Lord, have mercy” on her first hit single “Have Mercy.”
But that’s the beauty of Chlöe. There’s more to her than meets the eye. More than what a few sensual photos sprinkled throughout an Instagram feed could ever tell you. Just like the photo-framing illusion of her portrayed from the waist up, what we know about the songstress is just the tip of the iceberg. There’s so much more beneath the surface.
Some hours later Chlöe leans back in a high chair as her locs are transformed from a formal updo to a seemingly Basquiat-inspired one. It’s pure art, and at her request, no wigs are a part of the day’s ensemble. She’s fully embracing her natural hair, a decision that wasn’t always a socially accepted one.
In the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia, (Mableton, to be exact) Chlöe began to explore the foundation of her self-image. At an early age she and her younger sister, Halle, demonstrated a vocal prowess and knack for being in front of the camera that caught their parents’ attention. Soon after, they were sent on a parade of local talent shows and auditions, and eventually broke into the digital space with song covers on YouTube.
It was during these early years that Chlöe first learned that the entertainment industry could be unforgiving to those who didn’t fit a particular beauty standard. Despite the then three-year-old snagging a role as the younger version of Beyoncé’s character, Lilly, in Fighting Temptations, casting agents requested that her natural locs be exchanged for more Eurocentric tresses. Ironic, considering that growing up Chlöe saw her hair as no different than that of her peers. “I remember specifically in pre-K we had to do self-portraits and I drew myself with a regular straight ponytail, like how I would put my locs in a ponytail,” she says. “I just never saw myself any different.”
Chlöe would also learn the true meaning of a phrase that would later become an affirmation posted on her bedroom mirror: “Don’t Let the World Dim Your Light.” After attempting to wear wigs to fit in, the Bailey sisters instead chose to rock their locs with pride, which undoubtedly cost them casting roles. Yet they would have the last laugh when making headlines as the “Teen Dreadlocked Duo” who landed a million-dollar contract with Parkwood Entertainment, and the coveted opportunity to be groomed under the tutelage of a world-renowned superstar.
Credit: Derek Blanks
While that could be the end of a beautiful fairytale of self-empowerment, the reality is that it’s just the beginning of the story of her evolution. For most girls, the transition into womanhood takes place in the comfort of their own worlds, often limited to the number of people they allow to have access to them. But for Chlöe, it’s happening in front of millions of critiquing eyes just waiting for an opportunity to either uplift or dissect her through unwarranted commentary.
Many in her position wouldn’t be able to take that kind of pressure. But Chlöe is handling it with grace. “I feel like all of us as humans, we have the right to interpret things how we want,” she says. “I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
Chlöe isn’t the first artist to receive criticism for her carnal content, and she certainly won’t be the last. In 2010, Ciara writhed and rode her way to banishment on BET when the then 24-year-old released her video for “Ride.” In 2006, 25-year-old Beyoncé received backlash for “Déjà Vu."
"I put art out into the world and it's up for interpretation. I'm learning that not everyone is going to always like me and that it's okay.”
So much so that over 5,000 fans signed an online petition demanding that her label re-shoot the video because it was “too sexual.” Even 27-year-old Janet didn’t escape critical headlines when she shed her image of innocence for a more risqué appearance with the 1993 release of janet.
It’s almost as if public reproach is a rite of passage for young Black women R&B singers on the road to stardom. Good girls seemingly “go bad” whenever they embrace the depths of their femininity, and fans only like you on top figuratively. But Chlöe has learned not to bow down to other people’s opinions, but to boss up and control the narrative. As the saying goes, well-behaved women seldom make history. If sex appeal is her weapon, she wields it well.
On set, Chlöe exudes the energy of Aphrodite in an apple red, off-shoulder dress with a sexy high split. In between shots, she mouths the lyrics to Yebba’s “Boomerang” as it echoes throughout the space in steady repetition at my recommendation. The hour grows late, yet Chlöe is heating things up as eyes stare in deep mesmerization of the girl on fire.
Credit: Derek Blanks
Through music, she explores the depths of her being, a journey that seems to be, at its foundation, rooted in self-discovery. Whereas their debut album The Kids Are Alright (2018) boasts a young Chloe x Halle empowering their generation to embrace who they are while finding their place in the world, their second album Ungodly Hour (2020) shows the Bailey sisters shedding the veil of innocence for a more unapologetic bravado.
What fans looked forward to seeing is who Chlöe shows herself to be on her debut solo album In Pieces. In an interview with PEOPLE, she confesses that releasing her first project without her sister was “scary.” "It was a moment of self-doubt where I was like, 'Can I do this without my sister?’”
Chlöe has never been shy about sharing her insecurities or her vulnerabilities, all of which are laced throughout the 14-track album. “I want people to have fun when they listen to it and to just realize that they're not alone and it's okay to be vulnerable and raw and open because none of us are perfect; we're all far from it. And I think it's healing when we all admit to that instead of putting up a facade.”
The gift of time has given the self-professed “big lover girl” more encounters with romance and heartbreak. Love songs once sung for their beautiful riffs and melodies become more than just abstract lyrics and are replaced by real-life experiences, which she tells me is definitely in the music.
In her single “Pray It Away,” for example, she contemplates going to God for healing instead of going at her ex-lover for revenge for his infidelities. “With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable,” she says. “I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
Has Chlöe been in love? That still remains to be said. Of course, she’s been linked to a few potential baes, but dating in the digital age isn’t as easy as a double tap or drop of a heart-eyes emoji. It requires a level of trust and vulnerability that’s hard to earn, and easy to mishandle. To let her guard down means to potentially set herself up for disappointment. “It’s difficult dating right now, honestly, because you really have to kind of keep your guard up and pay attention to who's really there for you. And you know, I'm such an affectionate person and I love hard.
"So when I meet the one person that I really, really am into, it's hard for me to see any others and I get attached pretty easily. And you know, I don't know, it's…it's a scary thing.”
Credit: Derek Blanks
“With anything dealing with art, I am completely vulnerable. I'm completely myself, I'm completely open and transparent. So it's pretty much all of me and who I am right now.”
While broken hearts yield good music (queue Adele), what’s in Chlöe’s prayer is the desire to be happy. What does that look like? Well, she’s still figuring that out herself. “Honestly, I'm the type of person who I don't truly learn unless I experience it. So it's like I can view and watch my parents and watch the loving relationships that I see in my life and be like, ‘Oh, I want that. I would love to have that.’ But then I also have to experience [love] on my own and see what my flaws or my faults might be or see what my good things about myself are. I feel like it's really all about self-reflection. And even though our base is our family and that's our foundation, we are still our own individuals and we have to find out specifically the things about ourselves that may be different from what we saw from our parents when we were growing up.”
Her ideal beau, she tells me, is someone she can feel safe to be her fun, goofy self with, but who also gives her the space to be the boss chick chasing her dreams. A man who understands that just because the world compliments her doesn’t mean she doesn’t want to hear those words from his lips or feel it in his touch. A bonus if he shows up on set after a long hard day of work with vegan cinnamon rolls. You know, the basic necessities. “I like whoever I'm with to constantly tell me they love me and that I look beautiful because I do the same. I am a very mushy person, and if I see something or you look good, I will never shy away from saying it out loud. And I want whoever I'm with to do the same, be very vocal. Tell me that you love me. Tell me what you love about me because I'm doing the same for you because that's just the person I am.”
Until she meets her match she’s married to the game, and for now, that seems to be perfect matrimony.
Credit: Derek Blanks
On stage at the 2021 American Music Awards, Chlöe solidified her position as a force to be reckoned with. It was a full-circle moment. In 2012, bright-eyed and baby-faced Chloe and Halle would walk onto the set of The Ellen Degeneres Show and blow the audience away as they bellowed out their future mentor’s song. Ellen would present the sisters with tickets to attend the AMAs, assuring them that they would be back and had a promising future. Nine years later, Chlöe descends from the sky cloaked in a snow-white cape and matching midriff-baring bodysuit for her debut performance. It’s the first time she’s graced the stage of the very award show that she was once an audience member of.
As she shakes and shimmies and boom kack kacks out her eight counts, it’s clear that she’s in her element. Just like her VMA performance a couple of months prior, and the many more stages she’ll continue to grace, she brings an energy that has earned her comparisons to the beloved Queen Bey herself. An honorable statement, considering few R&B songstresses are getting accolades for their entertainment capabilities. It’s on these very stages, in front of hundreds of astonished eyes and millions more glued to their televisions at home, that she tells me she feels most sexy. Powerful, even.
But off stage, it’s a different story.
It’s more than just the commentary about her image and media-flamed rumors that get to her. Mentally, she’s in competition with herself. The desire to be the best burns at the back of her mind with every performance, every production, and every time she steps into the booth. Before, she could share the weight of this burden with her sister. Being a part of a duo meant she could turn to Halle for quiet confirmation and encouragement without a word being exchanged. But lately stepping on the stage means stepping out on her own. And despite being a breathtaking, five-time Grammy-nominated star, Chlöe doesn’t escape the reality that sometimes we can be our own worst critics.
Over the last year, she’s been coming to terms with who she is on her own while overcoming the fear of failing to become who she’s destined to be. While the world waits to see how Chlöe wins, the real triumph is in every day that she chooses herself and continues to walk in her purpose. “I don't really have anything all figured out, honestly. But what I try to do, a lot of prayer. I talk to God more and I just try to do things that calm my mind down and just breathe.”
To whom much is given, much will be required. She’s been chosen to walk this path for a reason. Once she fully embraces that everything she’s meant to be is already inside of her, she’ll be an unstoppable force. “My grandma, Elizabeth, she just passed away and my middle name is her [first] name. So I feel like I truly have a responsibility to live up to her legacy that she's left on this earth. I hope I can do that.”
There’s no doubt that she will. With a role in The Fighting Temptations at three years old, a million-dollar record deal, a main role on five seasons of Grown-ish, five Grammy nominations, a number one solo record in Urban and Rhythmic Radio, a debut solo album, and starring roles in recently released movies Praise Thisand Swarm (just to name a few), Chlöe’s certainly already made her mark, and she’s just getting started.
Photographer & Creative Director: Derek Blanks
Executive Producer: Necole Kane
Co-Executive Producer: EJ Jamele
Producer: Erica Turnbull
Digitech: Chris Keller
DP: Alex Nikishin
Gaffer: Simeon Mihaylov
Photo Assistant: Chris Paschal
2nd Photo Assistant: Tyler Umprey
Features Editor: Kiah McBride
Special Projects: Tyeal Howell
Hair: Malcolm Marquez
Makeup: Yolonda Frederick
Fashion Styling: Ashley Sean Thomas
For More: Cover Story: Issa Rae Comes Full Circle
Elisabeth “Karrine Steffans” Ovesen Shares How Celibacy Taught Her About Self-Love
Best-selling author and former video vixen Elisabeth "Karrine Steffans" Ovesen opened up about how practicing celibacy was highly instrumental in her journey to self-love and overcoming past traumas.
The act of celibacy means not participating in sexual activities for an extended period for either religious or personal reasons. Those, who were previously sexually active, that are practicing celibacy could encounter several benefits.
According to Healthline, the list includes a low risk of contracting STDs and STIs, minimal risk of pregnancy, reduced contraception costs, getting to know one's partner on a deeper level other than sex, helping an individual differentiate between "physical and emotional attraction," and more free time to focus on other endeavors.
Ovesen--recognized for her controversial books, some of which included stories of her past sexual encounters with many high-profile celebrities-- shared her celibacy revelation during a recent interview on Hello Beautiful's new series Full Set.
Elisabeth On Celibacy
In the discussion last month, Ovesen revealed that she was celibate for over two years after a failed relationship.
The 44-year-old disclosed that during that moment in her life, she could focus on her self-love journey better because she reduced distractions. Besides self-love, Ovesen also stated that clarity and peace were the other benefits she experienced.
"I was celibate for well over two and half years," she said. "It was amazing. I actually highly recommend celibacy... [For] clarity, absolute clarity. Absolute peace. Self-love was a huge thing I got out of it, realizing that even though we all think and say that we love ourselves, we usually don't. There's no way to gage that until you eliminate everybody and everything."
Elisabeth On How Celibacy Helped Her Heal and Overcome Past Traumas
Ovesen also expressed that her celibacy journey wasn't solely based on refraining from sex but instead on healing after her relationship's demise. To prove her point, the model added that she could live without sex.
"Sex, I didn't miss because I was with somebody for so long, and when that relationship was tapering off, I didn't need to be with anybody else. I needed to heal more than I needed sex. Sex is not a need for me. It's an extra. I can go forever without it," she explained.
As the subject transitioned to why some women are capable of not having sex for an extended period compared to others, Ovesen shared that an individual's sexual desire or lack thereof could be related to the traumas they have experienced.
Ovesen told the outlet that her celibacy journey helped her uncover some of her traumas, including sexual assault and abuse.
"I think a lot of us have sexual traumas, and we chalk it up to horniness ... You can't just sit with yourself and not be trifled with. So my celibacy left me with that," she said.
In addition to sharing her story about her celibacy journey to inspire others, Ovesen has dedicated her life to writing and bringing light to subjects that many are afraid to discuss.
Full Set: Sam Jay & Elisabeth Ovesen | Part 2Welcome to “Full Set”, the fresh new series from Hello Beautiful that pairs two celebrities from very different industries and professional backgrounds who t...
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