Man. Wouldn't it be great if you could take off an entire day to do nothing but get a facial, then a mani/pedi, then a massage and then perhaps indulge yourself with some shopping, followed by eating at your favorite high-end restaurant? Between (most of our) finances not being exactly where we want them to be and this damn pandemic (and folks not wearing a mask…whew), it seems like it will be FOR-E-VER before we're able to pamper ourselves in the ways that we truly desire. That's the bad news.
Ready for some good news? There are actually quite a few things that you can do to make yourself feel extra special, from the comfort and safety of your own home, that won't cost you much money at all. You just need a little creativity and a few items that you probably already own and you're all set. So, are you ready to love on yourself without breaking the bank or catching other people's germs? Awesome.
1. Take a Half Day. Then Read and Rest.
Sometime last year, I read a study that said almost 770 million vacation days went unused back in 2017. Listen, your employer is all about you being in the office as much as possible, so that they can reap the benefits of what you have to offer. So, if you're waiting for someone to approach you and say, "You seem worn out. How about using one of your vacation days?", you can probably hang that up. On the flip side of that, if you've got vacation days, USE THEM. You can even do something as simple as take a half day, once every season, to do nothing other than go home, catch up on a book and take a nap. Sometimes, just getting off of the roller coaster known as life for a few hours can be just what you need to recharge and feel more energized and positive again.
2. Write a “How to Love Me” Bucket List
There is absolutely no downside to having high self-esteem. While some people think that too much is a form of arrogance, actually cocky folks have a low sense of self-worth; they are merely overcompensating in areas where they feel that they lack. OK, but that's another article for another time. The reality is, the more you know your value, the better equipped you will be to make wise choices and solidify your destiny. A couple of ways to boost your self-esteem is by checking out the articles, "Every Woman Should Write A Love Letter To Themselves" and "Why 'Vaginal Mapping' Needs To Be Part Of Your Healing Journey". Another is to make a self-love bucket list.
What is that? It's basically a list of different ways that you plan on expressing love—to you and to you only. It can be saving up money to go on a trip. It can be scheduling a reflexology appointment before the year is out. It can be indulging yourself by getting that new pair of shoes that you've been eyeing.
The key is to have no less than 20 different self-love items on your list and to be intentional about checking everything off before the turn of a new year. Then, once you've completed the first list, put some other never-been-done-before items on a new one. It costs absolutely nothing to put the list together. Besides, just making time for yourself in this way, can make you feel more confident in who you are as a woman.
3. Customize Your Own Nail Polish
I don't know what it is about doing my toes while watching a movie that I find to be so relaxing; but it is. If it's been a minute since you've been out to get a mani/pedi or you simply want to switch out the hue on your hands that you currently have, something that could be fun is to make your own nail polish. Believe it or not, all you need is some clear polish and eyeshadow. You can get some step-by-step instructions on how to easily make it all happen here.
4. Make Your Own Hot Water Bottle
Chances are, there was some point in your childhood when your mom sent you to bed with a hot water bottle. And when you reflect back on it, didn't it almost immediately make you feel so much better? Quiet as it may be kept, a hot water bottle can relieve all kinds of health issues including neck and back pain, menstrual cramps and muscle discomfort, plus it can also help to relieve digestive issues, stress and anxiety symptoms and, it can help you to have a better night's sleep too.
If you don't already have a hot water bottle in your home, no worries. All you need is a rubber bottle and a flannel cover to wrap it up in. Fill the bottle with boiling water, wrap it up in the flannel, test the heat on the inside of your arm and, if it's not too hot, place it anywhere you're feeling uncomfortable or in between your feet to help you to fall asleep faster at night. It's one of the best hacks I know, and it costs absolutely nothing to do.
5. Have a Wine and Cheese at Home
I don't know what it is about wine and cheese that makes so many of us feel bougie AF but it does. I'm pretty sure that you've got some wine and probably even some mozzarella cheese in your house, right? If you pair them together, you can have your own wine and cheese party without spending anything to do it. On the other hand, if you want to come across as an expert in this lane, Wine Mag has a pairing guide that makes it really easy to figure out which wine goes with what cheese—specifically. Check the online guide out here.
6. DIY a Bottle of Champagne
Y'all, I'm all about folks toasting others as well as themselves. It's a very simple yet effective way to both acknowledge and celebrate what someone has done or what you appreciate about them. That said, when's the last time that you toasted yourself? Upping the ante, when's the last time that you toasted yourself with some champagne? If you're totally down but you don't have the coins, all you need is some wine, sugar and champagne yeast and you're good to go. As far as how to go about making it, it's a little extensive but nothing super stressful, once you grasp the overall concept. Some pretty thorough instructions are right here.
7. Soak in a Cocoa Bath
I'm about at the point where I'm gonna start recommending dark chocolate for everything on the planet because there is little that this food—one that is loaded with antioxidants—can't do, including giving you one of the most pampering baths that you've ever had.
Yep, if you add some cocoa (along with Epsom salt, baking soda, powdered milk and a favorite essential oil) into your running bathwater, you'll be able to detox and soothe your skin, lower your stress levels, increase blood circulation and reduce bodily inflammation.
If all of that sounds really good to you, there are some wonderful recipes that you can try out here.
8. Treat Your Feet to a Foot Mask
Did you know that each foot has somewhere around 7,000 nerve endings in it? Another fun fact is feet perspire somewhere around six ounces a day. That's why it's a really good idea to consider pampering yourself by treating your feet with a mask, at least twice a month. Not only can it help to detox your feet, but a foot mask is also great at increasing blood circulation to them, sloughing off dead skin, eliminating foot odor and helping to make your feet super soft and smooth. To get the best benefits, start off by using a pumice stone to exfoliate the skin on the back of your feet. Then your feet will be ready for the mask; one that should remain on your feet for 10-15 minutes before thoroughly rinsing them off in warm water. If you'd like to give a recipe a shot, there are a few easy to make ones right here.
9. UNPLUG. ENTIRELY.
Here are some signs that a lot of us are more addicted to our devices than we probably would care to admit. Many of us check our smartphone at least 150 times a day (geeze). Tons of us watch six days' worth of television each month. Hell, almost 90 percent of us can't even watch TV without staring at our cell phone or laptop at the same time. Our brains really don't need to be constantly going. Our eyes either (check out "8 Solid Reasons To Put. Your Phone. Down."). That's why, it can most definitely be a sign of self-love to take off a day—or shoot, even an entire weekend—to unplug from any device that will prevent you from resting and hearing your own thoughts. By the way, if you just read that and was like, "Shellie, I'm with you except when it comes to this, you are the main one who needs to do it." (Check out "Social Media: How To Take Back Control Of What You're Consuming" and "What I Learned From My Two-Month Social Media Fast".)
10. Sleep on Rose Petals
Believe it or not, there are some really easy and cost-effective ways to upgrade your house, even when you're on a really tight budget (check out "10 Home Décor Hacks To Make You Love Being At Home"). But if you want to do something that is super quick and can still make you feel extremely luxuriant, throw some fresh rose petals all over your bed before turning in at night. The petals are super soft and the scent of rose helps to reduce anxiety, menstrual discomfort, headaches/migraines and even menopause-related symptoms.
Who said a man has to be in the bed with you when there are petals everywhere? When it comes to pampering and self-love, see that as merely a bonus. #wink
Featured image by Shutterstock
Originally published on December 20, 2020
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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 email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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
Victoria Monét has had an incredible year. Thanks to the success of the widely popular “On My Mama” that went viral, the singer/ songwriter’s Jaguar II album debuted in the top 10 of Billboard’s Top R&B Albums chart. She also went on to headline her own sold-out tour. So, when the MTV VMAs happened in September, everyone was surprised to learn that Victoria’s team was told that it was “too early” for the “Smoke” artist to perform at the award show. However, a couple of months later, the mom of one received seven Grammy nominations, including “Best R&B Album” and “Record Of The Year.”
Victoria is currently in London and stopped by The Dotty Show on Apple Music and shared how she feels “validated” after being dismissed by the VMAs.
“It really does feel nice and validating because, in my head, the reason why I wanted to be a performer at the VMAs or award ceremonies like that is because I felt like I am at the place where I should. I would work really hard to put on the best show that I could, and I was excited to do so,” she said.
“And I guess the best way to describe it for me is like when you're like on a sports team, and the coach is like, ‘No, you gotta sit this one out.’ When they finally put you in, and then you score all these points, and it feels like that feeling. You're like, yes, I knew it wasn't tripping, but I knew I worked hard for this, and so it's been super validating to just have these accolades come after a moment like that, and I know the fans feel vindicated for me.
While her fans called the VMAs out on their decision, the “Moment” singer kept it cute and is still open to performing at the iconic award show. “I feel no ill towards them because it's just maybe that's just truly how they felt at the time, but I hope their mind has changed,” she admitted.
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Feature image by Amy Sussman/WireImage for Parkwood