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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Whether it was your group chat, social media feed, or your favorite media outlet covering the spectacle, I’m pretty sure you’ve come across the viral Black wedding between actress KJ Smith (Sistas, Raising Kanan) and actor Skyh Black (All the Queen’s Men, Sistas). From their grand entrance to Jay-Z, Kayne West, and Beyoncé’s song “Lift Off” to KJ’s standout dance routine and the endless celebrity appearances, it’s an addictive TikTok scroll you can’t help but delve into.
But what many people would be surprised to know is that the couple’s original wedding plan was nothing like what it grew to be. What started as her simply scrolling through posts to get ideas eventually transformed into what the internet knows now as #TheBlackExperience. In an exclusive conversation with xoNecole, KJ walked us through her planning process, the morning of her wedding, and what she thinks of the online response.
Some women have their whole wedding planned out, from the bridal gown and venue to the bridal party and playlist. However, KJ was not one of those people. “I didn’t foresee a wedding in my future,” she reveals. “I was just gonna be the boss chick, rich auntie. I didn’t force love in my life until recently. I never had an idea of what a dream wedding would look like, it was easier for me to elope.”
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
And to many people’s surprise, that was their original plan – until Skyh brought up a valid concern. He was raised by his grandmother and thought she should be at the wedding, and naturally, that led to KJ wanting her grandmother to be there as well – then her mom – and later her sister – and, you’ve gotta invite the besties too, right? From there, the guest list continued to blossom. Much like the updo and pop of color bold red lip, she wore on her special day, which was initially on her Pinterest board as a soft glam look with her hair hanging on her shoulders, KJ is okay with changing her plan if it brings her and her loved ones happiness.
So let’s get into the wedding, which took place in Malibu, CA. The first thing you should know about the celebrity couple is that they’re non-traditional. They know, and they don’t care. So, in true unconventional fashion, they shared the morning of the wedding together.
“I woke up with Skyh, we walked our dog, had black coffee, and said good morning to the people who stayed at the venue with us,” she says.
Now, it was time for hair and makeup. While she was getting glammed up, she had Black-owned McBride Sisters wine and champagne (which ties into The Black Experience theme) on deck with her mom and friends, had her besties help rework her vows, retried on every outfit (sis is very Type-A), took photos, and ended the early-celebration with prayer and meditation. It seems very non-Bridezilla, I said.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company,” she explains. “The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
Things moved quickly, and before she knew it, it was time to line up to walk down the aisle.
“Yeah, I was the most unbothered bride ever. Everyone was just so supportive. As entertainers, we go on red carpets all the time. We actually have a production company. The get-ready process was like a day at work, but with people we love the most. Being entertainers, we didn’t feel stressed at all, but my excitement was so high.”
KJ Smith and her bridal party
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Since everything started with their grandmothers, the couple wanted to ensure they honored them and planned to keep an element of their wedding traditional. Although we’ve all seen the reception videos and photos online, you may have noticed visuals from the wedding itself are harder to find.
“We planned for it to be traditional, but we’re not like that, so we tried to create those moments. We jumped the broom and had a salt ceremony (where the bride and groom individually pour salt into a glass container, symbolizing their lives becoming one.) But honestly, still, nothing was traditional about it.”
She goes on to explain that her mom caught the holy ghost coming down the aisle, her glam team was on deck, and she became so nervous with excitement that she had an anxiety attack – something she struggled with for years, she explains tearfully. Her friends had to literally cheer her down the aisle because of how overwhelmed she felt until she eventually calmed down.
“Skyh was standing there with his hand on his heart; we have our own little language, and I could feel the support,” she shares.
It was surprising to hear all these emotional moments happened before the party we saw online. That is until she once again got into the backstory.
“As a Black woman actress, for so long, it was popular to be mysterious and secretive, but that’s not who I am or what I like. Plus, we both wanted to create an experience for everyone there. We are the people who always host family and friends,” she says. “Like for me, the first order of business was getting sandals for the women so they can dance all night long. We had oxtail, D'ussé, and a coffee and sativa lounge – which is part of Skyh and I’s lifestyle and routine. We wanted to bring them into our world.”
Skyh Black (L) and KJ Smith (R)
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
She went on to discuss the dance routine she did for her husband at the reception, which has taken over the internet. Apparently, that’s another thing that didn’t go according to plan. According to KJ, she had promised a performance at their joint bachelor/ bachelorette party, but her outfit got stolen from her car. So, Skyh ended up performing for her – complete with a strip tease. Still, she never forgot her promise to dance for him.
So, she hired her friend as a choreographer, learned the routine, made friends and family watch it endless times, and attended Beyoncé’s Renaissance show a few days before for a confidence boost. It ended up being a show to remember. But that wasn’t all the night offered. Lil Mo performed, and the guests received special goody bags featuring their favorite Black-owned products like journals, hair care, and more.
“We made sure everyone was taken care of all night. That kind of stuff makes us happy. I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives,” she says.
But naturally, the internet is going to internet, and while there were countless people praising the event and applauding the newlyweds, some thought it was too over the top. I was curious to know her thoughts on some of the criticism.
“It’s cool. We did what we wanted to do. I’ve decided to share my world with people. Just how I went on social media platforms and found inspiration, I want people to do the same,” she explains. “I don’t think it's fair to my supporters not to give that out. There’s so much I wanna share with brides, specifically Black brides. I love that people are adding it to their Pinterest boards."
"I wanted everyone there to experience the joy and love I have for myself, my partner, and for them. I wanted them to feel full and whole, and they had the time of their lives."
Photo by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
“I’m happy with it because we did what we wanted to do. They can do what they wanna do. Don’t be cruel, though, because you will get blocked,” she said, laughing.
The more I spoke with her, the more her sense of freedom shined through. People are always going to have their opinions, but at the end of the day, it’s you who has to live your life, and it seems like the couple realizes that and embraces that power. She also stressed the importance of not living for others and the lessons life has taught her.
“I’ve been to countless weddings, and I’ve been in countless weddings. I’m a generally older bride. So when women in my demographic get married, and you and your husband are busy working people like us, you deserve to have the one you want to have,” she shares.
“This is what we wanted to do. Our loved ones love and support us. We did so much to honor them, but we also wanted to start our own tradition, legacy, and creation. I'm not going to be pulled back into ideas of the past when I’m trying to create a future with my partner. “
If you’d like to see more of the couple, you probably won’t have to wait long. Although no content is planned yet, she admits to being an oversharer. “Me being open and transparent about my experiences lets people know it’s okay to have flaws; it makes you human, and for many years, I didn’t believe that was okay. I had pressure to be perfect, and I’d crumble every time,” she explains to xoNecole.
Now, she owns her flaws and uses them as a superpower to connect with her community and feel and express her love.
“Some people give us [Skyh and KJ] a hard time because they say we just seem too perfect. I’m like, why is that a bad thing? I love the people I love. From my man to my mama, to my friends - unabashedly. We move through time and space how we want to move. If we did it another way, we’d let ourselves and our union down.”
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Feature image by Stanley Babb/ Stanlo Photography
Whether you prefer to travel in groups, solo, or on baecations, picking the right destination is a major component of ensuring a great trip. Where you go for your next vacation can come down to price, location, activity options, and a host of other things. We’ve seen how often group trips can go awry because each person has different interests and wants to do different things. But how do you pick the right place for yourself when there’s so many options to choose from?
Choosing a destination that will provide you with the most memorable experience comes down to your own needs, and believe it or not, your love language can help with that. Our love languages are a guide to how we prefer to receive love and support, as well as how we like to give it.
Knowing about our love language can help build healthy relationships, better self-care routines, and improve our overall well-being. Imagine centering your travel around the way that you like to be loved and then experiencing that each moment of your trip. Every place around the world is unique and thus can provide a different vibe and feeling for us. Figuring out the places that align with our love language can be a game changer in how we experience the world.
Whether you’re a quality time girlie like me or prefer acts of service, here’s some of the best destinations to visit based on the five love languages.
If your love language is acts of service, you might want to visit...
The “Eternal City” is home to the Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, and all the pasta and gelato that your heart desires. People who value acts of service love when things are done for them, and life is made easier. If that’s your jam, consider going to Rome and experiencing an authentic Italian dinner cooked by locals for you. What better act of service than having someone cook a full meal for you in their home?
No need to learn how to roll pasta dough or knead pizza. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the free-flowing wine while learning about Italian culture and having a 4-course meal provided for you. After that, take a guided city tour where someone else can show you around all the popular spots, skipping the lines and avoiding crowds.
Having acts of service as your love language is not just about how others show you love but also about how you show it back. If you enjoy giving acts of service to others, consider heading to Thailand and visiting an ethical wildlife sanctuary where you can spend the day volunteering. Choose a place like Wildlife Friends Foundation Thailand, where people are not allowed to touch or ride the elephants but can help with harvesting bananas, cleaning enclosures, or even helping out in the animal clinic. You’ll leave feeling a sense of pride and knowing that your time was spent in a way that made an impact.
If your love language is physical touch, you might want to visit...
There are so many ways that we can experience the love language of physical touch, and Guatemala is a tropical sanctuary that can provide just that. This South American country is full of rainforests, volcanoes, and ancient ruins and can be the perfect escape to get some TLC. Consider staying at a luxury hotel like Villa Bokeh, where you can get your physical needs met through massages, yoga, or rowing on their lagoon. And if you want to explore off the resort, get those steps in with a hike of one of Guatemala’s volcanoes.
If your love language is gift giving, you might want to visit...
There’s no better place to go to for all your shopping needs than Dubai. Whether you are a gift giver or like to be spoiled, this is where you need to be. To start, the Dubai Mall is the largest mall in the world at over 12 million square feet. With around 1,200 shops to choose from, you are bound to find something for just about everyone. Dubai is not a budget destination, so leave a little extra space in your luggage and prepare to spend a pretty coin while you’re there. If luxury gifts aren’t your thing, head to the Covent Garden Market, where you can shop local vendors for more affordable items.
If your love language is quality time, you might want to visit...
Whether you’re planning a cute baecation or a solo trip, quality time is all about disconnecting and spending intentional time with your loved one or yourself. Costa Rica is an ideal location to be off the grid and be present. Spend some special time with bae at a nice resort, enjoying a couples massage, a trip to the rainforest, or a sunset dinner. There’s something about being off the grid that allows us to be more present with each other.
If you want to get in some DND solo quality time, book a stay at Nayara Springs Resort, located on the outskirts of Costa Rica, where you can enjoy uninterrupted and secluded relaxation while indulging in amenities like yoga classes and a hot springs pool.
Marco VDM/Getty Images
There are many ways to spend quality time with yourself or others, so why not do it in one of the most beautiful countries in the world? Explore Dar es Salaam with family, learn about the history of Tanzania, and then spend more quality time at the beach on Mbudya Island. If you are looking for a more romantic trip or quality time on your own, go out to Zanzibar, the archipelago off the coast of Tanzania. Here you’ll find some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and can stroll through the historical Stone Town.
If your love language is words of affirmation, you might want to visit...
If words of affirmation get you feeling all tingly inside, then why not take a trip to the "City of Love," Paris, France? Not only is Paris considered the mecca for love, but French is literally one of the world’s romance languages. So take a French lesson where you can learn how to speak beautiful words about yourself, or if you’re with bae, take a stroll by the Eiffel Tower at night while sharing some of the things you appreciate about each other.
Bonus points if you can say it in French.
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Featured image by Diamond Dogs/Getty Images