Burnout and anxiety is a common diagnosis in today's fast-paced, technologically-driven society. Between working your day job, running your start-up business, maintaining your relationships, and thriving amid a pandemic, there's very little "you" time left, which can cascade into a slew of issues that affect your psychological equilibrium. Obsessing over your long ass to-do list, while avoiding said to-do list to scroll through Twitter for seven hours a day, can easily lead to you feeling overwhelmed and mentally scattered.
It's only a matter of time before your psychological distress shows physical symptoms through changes in your appetite, sleep patterns, and your overall mood. The digital age, as beneficial as it can be, has the potential to be just as detrimental to our wellness. And although technology and our to-do list isn't going anywhere, it's important that we learn some proactive methods that help us prioritize our psychological health which, for many of us, begins with mindfulness.
When most people think of the word "mindfulness" they likely picture someone sitting Indian-style in the middle of a forest chanting mantras until they experience some mystical, life-altering experience that grants them access to the wisdom of the cosmos. Although this is a perfectly valid approach to mindfulness, it's not necessarily practical for everyone. There's a common misconception that mindfulness and meditation practices only consist of stillness, breath-work, and silence. However, it's important that we broaden our idea of this practice, which is ultimately about being more present in our day-to-day experiences to nurture our optimal wellness in mind, body, and spirit. Check out the best mindfulness practice for your zodiac sign:
As one of the most active signs of the zodiac, meditating in a quiet room may not be the most engaging method of mindfulness for you. Action and excitement is what you thrive on and many Aries are known to be naturally-gifted athletes, thanks to their ruling planet Mars. Anyone influenced by the energetic ram is more likely to enjoy active meditations, versus those that require stillness, to release all of that excess energy in a more healthy way that doesn't result in your typical crash and burn.
Prioritizing a regular exercise routine can be just what you need to improve your sense of presence. Sign up for that kickboxing class or join a team sport that allows your inner Amazon Goddess free reign to release pent up frustration while increasing your ability to focus on what's right in front of you.
If anyone is into kicking back and opting for more stationary mindfulness practices, it would be you. Physiologically, Taurus is associated with the throat, neck, and thyroid. Integrating chants into your meditation can help you maintain balance in mind, body, and spirit. Transcendental meditation is an approach in which word, sound, and phrases—known as mantras—are repeated for twenty minutes, twice a day.
You can freestyle with this method by simply tuning into your heart to connect with a mantra that works for you or you can write a list prior to meditating that you can read. Our words are powerful and carry a vibration within their own. You're encouraged to tap into the power of spoken word to bring more clarity, peace, and balance into your life.
One of the zodiac signs that can benefit the most from mindfulness is you, Gemmie. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is associated with the mind and our thoughts. This, along with your mutable nature, can easily lead to you feeling anxious and scattered. Given your naturally inquisitive nature, you're prone to experiencing sensory overload, thanks to your excessive thirst for knowledge. Not only is Mercury associated with your thoughts but with your communication as well, particularly related to writing.
Automatic writing can be the perfect technique for you to tap into higher states of consciousness and deeper levels of serenity. You can engage with this practice by simply going into a quiet space and setting the intention for what you'd like to gain from your session, whether it be guidance regarding an important life decision or inspiration for your next work of art.
As one of the most empathic signs of the zodiac, it's important that you keep your aura and heart clear of discordant energies that you can pick up via your daily interactions. You are known as the caregiver of the zodiac but your giving nature can result in you running yourself ragged for the sake of appeasing others. If you're not careful with balancing your energy, you can wind up resenting the people who aren't grateful or capable of reciprocating your efforts.
With that being said, Loving-Kindness (or Metta) meditation is used to develop an attitude of love and kindness toward everything—yes, that includes your hyper-critical mother-in-law. Start by taking a few deep breaths and envision yourself inhaling compassion into your heart space. Once you're relaxed enough, direct that energy within your heart to someone who needs it or even to the world as a whole. Repeat this mediation regularly to dissolve any bitterness and grief that keeps a wall up between you and others.
As the superstar of the zodiac, and the center of the Universe, it's important that you stay charged up so you can continue your quest in taking over the world in your bold, enlivened approach. Your warmth and vitality often makes you a magnet for all kinds of people, making you one of the most popular signs of the zodiac. Although others can regularly benefit from the light that you shine into their lives, it's important that you take time to replenish your vibes for your overall well-being.
Qigong, meaning "life energy cultivation", is a Chinese mindfulness approach that incorporates breathing exercises and slow body movements based on martial arts. There are thousands of Qigong exercises involving numerous kinds of breathing techniques that can energize the body while cultivating the mind and spirit to experience more peace and flow in your life.
If anyone can use a solid mindfulness practice, it's your Mercury-ruled, analytical ass. We get it, Virgo. You've got the vision, the execution plan, and all of the people that will play a role in your level up. A lot of your time is spent organizing and planning for the future that you can experience intense bouts of anxiety when you're in workaholic mode. With so many ideas swirling around in your head, it's important that you have a place to record them.
Sticky notes are your best friend providing you with a sense of comfort when you deviate from your regularly scheduled program to carve out some time for yourself. Walking meditation is the perfect mindfulness technique to get you out of the office and into nature. Something as simple as taking a 15-minute walk every day can help clear your mind, settle unhinged emotions, and loosen tension in your body to experience a greater sense of serenity and stability.
As an air sign, you're naturally inclined to live in your mind, and with you being represented by the scales, you've got a tendency to play mental ping pong due to your diplomatic nature. Your ability to see both sides of a situation can be beneficial but sometimes it can be equally overwhelming when it's time to make an important decision. When it comes to your meditation practice, it can seem impossible to quiet the incessant chatter of your mind to receive clear guidance that can help you navigate your life with more trust and flow.
Guided meditation is a great option for shifting your focus from meeting the gazillion deadlines in your planner to grounding yourself in the present moment to experience the calm and clarity that comes from practicing mindfulness. Next time you're feeling on edge, check out YouTube for a guided meditation to bring you back to center.
Life is already hectic enough attempting to balance your daily demands on top of you being one of the most empathic signs of the zodiac. Your heightened sensitivity and psychic awareness makes you a magnet for all kinds of energies. Think of yourself like a sponge. As one of the more emotionally-centered signs, you run the risk of absorbing other people's feelings, which can have a negative impact on your health and well-being. Developing a sense of mindfulness about your energy, and those that you come into contact with, can help you determine the difference between what's energetically yours and what's not.
Try a simple candle gazing meditation to not only help you recenter yourself but to also cleanse any negative vibes you've been picking up. If possible, opt for a white candle as it represents purification. As you gaze into the flame, imagine yourself being cleansed of any heavy energies or simply allow yourself to be completely consumed by the dance of the flame.
Given your mutable, on-the-go energy, an active mediation would serve you best in developing more mindfulness. Physiologically, your zodiac sign is associated with the lower half of the body, particularly the hips and thighs.
Dancing is the perfect meditation for you to recenter your sporadic energy while also releasing the endorphins you need to remain your usual optimistic, joyful self. There's no coincidence that dancing is associated with the Sacral chakra. This particular chakra also governs how you process emotions, making dance an extremely cathartic, transcendental experience for you. Whenever life gets too stressful or heavy, turn on your fav playlist and let loose. Fully being lost in the moment is exactly what mindfulness is all about.
There's a lot of pressure being the boss and your goal-oriented approach to life can leave little time to reconnect with your zen. Your ruling planet Saturn can make you rigid when it comes to the structures in place in your life, making it important to develop a little more flexibility. Aches and pain resulting from stress is even more common for you as an Earth sign, emphasizing the importance of physical activity that can ease the tension in your body.
Yoga has been practiced for many centuries and has been proven to reduce pain, depression, and anxiety. Now that the weather is warming up, this is a good time to grab your mat and hit your local Yoga at the Park class.
Who said meditation has to be some elaborate, time-consuming ritual that you partake in to simply gain some peace of mind in the midst of the chaos? Life is constantly throwing things at us and although we don't necessarily have a say in every single thing that comes our way, we do have power over our response to these unnerving experiences. Physiologically, Aquarius is associated with the circulatory system, making it super important for you to pay attention to your breathing.
Breath awareness meditation is one of the most common, and easy, ways to meditate because it actually gives you something to focus on during a quiet moment of pause and reflection. The goal is to simply focus on your breathing. You can engage with this process by counting your breath. Whenever your mind wanders off elsewhere, gently reel it back in and start counting from one again as you breathe in and out. Keep track of how many breaths you can take without getting distracted and monitor your progress over the course of a month to see if mindfulness is becoming easier for you.
As the most imaginative sign of the zodiac, the best mindfulness technique for you isn't too far away from your usual, extended bouts of daydreaming that you do throughout your day. Visualization meditation is a powerful tool that even the most novice mindfulness student can master. Not only can this method be used to manifest your dream job or the love of your life, but your overall health and well-being can benefit from this practice as well.
Prior to starting your day, spend five minutes in bed imagining how you would like your day to go. If possible, amp up the mindfulness by tapping into the sensations of smell, taste, touch, and sound as you visualize your day ahead. Practice this on a regular basis to cultivate a clearer vision for your life and greater optimism to help you overcome any obstacles that you may face along the way.
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Featured image by Getty Images
Originally published on May 8, 2019
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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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Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
There are actually a few reasons why I thought it was important to pen this piece. One reason is that, reportedly, 55 percent of Americans feel especially lonely during this time of the year. Another reason is that some folks aren’t particularly close to their blood relatives yet they do have, what I call, “love family” — and oftentimes, it’s their friends. And then there’s the fact that, when it comes to keeping any type of close emotional dynamic healthy and thriving, it’s essential that gratitude is shown.
And so, whether you’re someone who’s already wanting to hurry up and get the holidays over and done with, you are going to be doing Friendsgiving instead of Thanksgiving this year, or a Hallmark (holiday) movie has put you in the mood to show some love and heartfelt appreciation for a couple of your own homies, here are 12 ways that you can do just that.
After all, as late author Lois Wyse once said, "A good friend is a connection to life — a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world." And if that ain’t something to intentionally celebrate this season…what is, sis?
1. Handwrite a “Love” Letter
My dad had impeccable handwriting. My mom’s handwriting? Eh, not so much. I’m somewhere in between yet, because I spend more time hammering away on this keyboard of mine, I don’t realize how out of practice I am on the handwriting tip until I’m filling out a form or addressing an envelope or package. What in the world? It’s for that reason alone that I will try and write at least a couple of letters a year and, whenever I do, the person on the receiving end is always hella surprised and super appreciative — not just because of the words but the effort that was put behind them.
So yeah, if you’ve got a few friends who really held you down this year, get some really nice stationary, write them your own version of a friend-themed love letter, and mail it. Everyone likes something other than bills in their mailbox. No debates there, right?
2. Make a Gift That Speaks Their Love Language
Words of affirmation. Quality time. Physical touch. Acts of service. Gifts. At this point, who doesn’t know what the five love languages are? And even though we mostly discuss them in the context of romantic relationships, they can — and should — be applied across the board (check out “This Is How To Apply Love Languages To Your Friendships”).
When it comes to your friends, something else that you can do is make them a present; something that represents their primary love language. If it’s words of affirmation, frame a poster that has adjectives that describe them. If it’s quality time, make them some coupons with “friend dates” that are already planned out. If it’s physical touch, make them a pampering basket that they can use on themselves or with their partner. If it’s acts of service, make them their favorite meal. A gift? Something in their favorite color would be cool.
No one said that the gift has to look like it came straight out of the mall; the mere fact that you took out the time to create it yourself? That already sends the message that you are truly grateful to have them in your life.
3. Pre-Plan a One-on-One Date
My friends and I go out on dates with one another, fairly frequently. And because all of our lives are so hectic, it automatically requires some pre-planning. Since the “arrangement” is usually that I will pick up the tab, then they will, and so on (back and forth, I mean), whoever pays lets the other person pick (yes, it’s literally a date). It’s fun this way because sometimes we find ourselves introducing the other to a new restaurant, venue, or experience. That said, when was the last time that you pre-planned a super thoughtful date for a friend of yours? Especially if it’s someone who is single during this time of the year, it can take some of the “Where’s my boo (or cuffing partner)? I hate it here!” edge off.
4. Send Them a Customized Care Package
Once upon a time, Today.com published an article entitled, “Long-distance friendships take work: Here’s how I’ve had success.” It was basically one woman’s take on the blessings and challenges that came with trying to maintain a close connection with her bestie who lives far away from her. Honestly, my life is so full (along with the lives of my friends) that I oftentimes have to put just about as much effort into seeing the ones who live in the same city as I do as the ones who don’t.
When it comes to my long-distance friends, though, I will sometimes put a care package together and shoot it their way. Think about things that are your friend’s favorites and send them. It doesn’t have to be super deep. This time of year, their favorite cookies, some slippers, and a customized coffee mug are beyond sweet.
5. Plan a Sleepover
Speaking of the folks who live close by, ain’t nothin’ wrong with hosting a sleepover. For instance, if some of you aren’t planning on being with family this Thanksgiving and you’re gonna go the Friendsgiving route instead, who said that everyone has to call it a day (or night) after dinner? Pull out some throwback movies (chances are, they’re on Tubi, chile) along with a playlist from when everyone was in college, put some holiday cocktails together, and hang out all night long.
Sleeping in and having breakfast together sure beats the hell outta all of that traffic on Black Friday. Or, if you are going to be with your DNA, push it ‘til the weekend. After all, sleepovers don’t have an age cap. Why should children have all of the fun?
6. Have Flowers or Lunch Delivered to Their Job
One time, while I was having the worst day ever (no exaggeration), a friend of mine, without even letting me know that she was going to do it, had lunch and dinner delivered to me (and she was out of state). That was a few years ago now and it’s still a favorite memory of mine when it comes to my friends and their thoughtful gestures. That said, consider having some flowers or lunch delivered to one of your friends soon. Add a note that says something along the lines of, “No reason. You’re just awesome.” It’ll go a really, REALLY long way. Trust me.
7. Frame a Photo of a Favorite Memory of the Two of You
Last year, someone posted a tweet (chile, it’s always gonna be Twitter to me) that simply said “true best friends have no pictures together.” It received 99K likes and 30K retweets. When I stopped to think about it, only one person in my innermost circle did I have a picture of us together in it. WILD. One day, I’ll have to unpack the subconscious psychology behind it all. For now, I’ll just say that time is precious and memories are invaluable. Not only that but it’s not like you’ve got to schedule an appointment with a professional photographer to take a shot; you’ve got your smartphone.
So, the next time you’re out with your friends, take a quick picture. Then blow it up, make some copies, frame them, and give them to your friend (or friends). I’m preaching to the choir when I say that it really would be a shame to go throughout your entire life with no evidence of your connections with other people other than the thoughts that are in your head.
8. Create a “Thank You” Jar
You’d be amazed how many studies exist out here. For instance, did you know that most Americans ONLY SAY “thank you,” somewhere around 15 percent of the time that a request is granted to them (that’s pretty pitiful) or that articles like “People rarely say thank you when others help them out, scientists say” exist? Maybe it’s just me but I think it’s kinda wild that the very thing that we will tell our children is rude not to do (to say “please” and “thank you”), we pretty much suck at ourselves (one could call that “hypocritical,” right?). And when people feel taken for granted, that is a surefire way for them to start tapping out of their relationship with you — friends included.
Just in case you are someone whose heart is in the right place yet you’re not exactly big on words, something that you can do is create a thank you jar. Buy some big mason jars and some colored construction paper. Cut the paper into strips and write down different things about your friend(s) that you are thankful for. That way, you’ve put your gratitude on paper (literally) and they can refer to how you feel about them, whenever they feel like it.
9. Dedicate a Blog (or Vlog) Post to Them
When it comes to this particular suggestion, I’ve gotta admit that sometimes, when I see people do this, it seems more like “performative affection” than anything. What I mean by that is, if you’re out here talking more about yourself more than the person you claim to be affirming or celebrating, that looks a lot like humble pride (eye roll). For everyone else, though, in a world that is filled with so much gossip, negativity, and cynicism, it can be truly refreshing for folks to dedicate a blog or vlog to nothing but praising another person for their character, their commitment, and their friendship. You know what they say — the internet is written in pen not pencil (some folks could stand to remember that), so it’s a simple gesture that could go a really long way and will definitely last a really long time.
10. Do Something for Them That They “Hate”
Does one of your friends hate doing laundry? Why not do it for them? Have you hopped into their car lately and it looks like a pocketbook (some of y’all will catch that later)? Get it detailed out of the blue. Is their favorite health food store closer to you than it is to them? Why not pick some stuff up for them and bring it to their house? I’m gonna tell you, out the gate, doing things for others that they need but don’t like to do? It’s more on the practical side of showing gratitude yet oftentimes, that’s what warms hearts up the most.
11. Treat Them to Their Favorite Spot
Who said that spontaneity only had to be reserved for romance? Hell, if you really stop to think about it, some of your friends have outlasted a lot of your romantic, umm, situations (LOL), so why not show them how freakin’ grateful you are that they did? Out of the blue, hit them up and tell them that you wanna take them somewhere…then actually do it. I recently did it for a friend of mine and they were floored — one, that I remembered them casually mentioning the place before, and two, that I was willing to pay the expense in order to do it. Again, it shouldn’t only be folks in a couple’s dynamic who should feel adored and cherished. Everyone who is loved, in some way, should.
12. Jot Down 10-20 Reasons Why Their Friendship Means So Much to You
It’s one thing to be grateful for a person; it’s another thing to be able to clearly articulate why you are so thankful for the kind of friendship that you have with them. So, to close this out, purchase them a journal for the new year and, in the front of it, write down 10-20 reasons why their friendship is so invaluable to you. It doesn’t have to be lengthy; it can literally be bullet points or phrases. It’s a wonderful gift, a very thoughtful gesture, and a beautiful way to express gratitude for any kind of friend that you have. Give thanks, y’all. GIVE THANKS.
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