What A 7-Day Self-Love Challenge Taught Me About Myself
I usually don't partake in these online challenges. I try my best not to fall into the trap of the social-media sunken place. Since I've labeled this the year of "firsts", I decided to participate in a challenge for the very first time. Surprisingly, I was no longer hesitant about it. I've reached a point in my life where I'm more comfortable explaining my story to people and being more vulnerable. Once I feel like I'm on the right path, I'm reminded that I have another opportunity at life and that I am indeed a work in progress. I can say that I'm thankful and proud of not being where I used to be.
What I admired about xoNecole's 7-day Self-Love Challenge was that it forced me to think outside of the box and informed me that my life isn't as bad as I thought.
With Necole and the editors' blessings, I've decided to be the brave soul to share what this challenge meant to me. Thank you, in advance, ladies.
Day 1: Create a list of all the things that bring you happiness, joy, or peace. Do one thing from the list today or this week.
I was so excited about this challenge that I dove in head first. I made it a point to keep a list of all the things I love to do. Many joys in life don't cost a thing, but how they make you feel is priceless.
Since I've trained my mind to always think about what brings me joy and happiness, this list didn't take long to complete. Again, this was a steady reminder that I am on the right path.
After stepping back and re-reading my list, I decided to pull out a few I wrote five months ago to compare and contrast my interests. The first list displayed things I thought I would enjoy but had never tried. I would add ideas and activities that seemed fun to the list in hopes I would be able to accomplish those things at a later date. I wasn't realistic with myself. With another list, I asked myself, "What makes me smile?" and I could equate a smile with peace and enjoyment.
Day 2: Write 10 positive sentences that start with 'I AM.' Record yourself reading them to replay when you're feeling unsure.
It's one thing to create a list in your head and whisper it to yourself. It's another to write it out and post it on social media. I'm not one to display those types of things publicly but after writing out statements, I felt they now became powerful. To read and recite my strengths was a beautiful moment. It reminded me that I'm multifaceted, and I would be doing myself a disservice if I was just one way. My statements made me feel so proud of the progress I'd made over the past two years.
This is something that I'll refer to on the days I don't feel so powerful. I felt like I was double blessed on day two: I helped myself and others.
Day 3: Capture a selfie without retaking it. Post on social media and caption it with one of the sentences from Day 2.
Image via Teisha Leshae
I am a person who knows her angles and what filters to use, but to risk it all and just trust the first picture didn't seem like an option. I have to take at least eight and choose at least two out of the eight.
After I took the picture, my mind drifted into a negative space, ripping myself apart about how I think I should look to the public. After I let one negative comment slip through my lips, I caught myself and just posted the photo. The person I saw in the photo was someone I didn't recognize for a moment. For so long, I'd done certain things just to "look presentable".
Looking at my selfie helped me become more mindful of my physical presence. If I cared a little more each day, I felt more content. The week after the challenge, I started to eliminate certain foods from my diet. Avoiding overindulging and saying "no" made me feel great.
Day 4: Call a friend and tell them how much you appreciate them in your life.
This day was a quick reminder that I don't have any friends. I've attempted to be a good friend to people I've met throughout my life, but unfortunately, none stuck around long enough. As much as I have become aware of my personal growth and development, I've always wanted to be surrounded by a group of women I love and respect. On day four of this challenge, that wasn't the case.
Realizing I had no one to call, I wanted to give up on the problem. If I'm not able to complete the tasks, then I should save myself the heartbreak. I thought about who to call over the next few days and realized there was one person who I hadn't heard from in a while---someone who's much younger but very mature. That person is my younger sister who is in college. The hour-long conversation was much-needed.
After having a tough week, it felt good to laugh and talk to someone who has the same unconditional love I have for her as she has for me. Now, whether it be over the phone or our many Starbucks trips, we always find a way to have a fun time.
Day 5: Treat yourself to breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Order delivery, cook for yourself, or dine out.
I'm not a foodie but if I find myself craving something, I make sure I eat it. Mexican food is my favorite. Some people call them Mexican restaurants, but those of us who live in Southern California call them taco shops. I love anything wrapped in a tortilla, so I purchased my go-to meal: a carne asada burrito with rice and beans on the side. I usually order my food to go, but on that particular day I decided to dine in. (When you eat in, you also get to enjoy one of the best chips-and-salsa combinations.) I took my time and enjoyed every bite. It felt like heaven in my mouth.
Day 6: Forgive yourself for a mistake you haven't made peace with. Write down some things you can do better next time.
Surprisingly, this one was tough. With my numerous homework assignments from my therapist, I thought I'd forgiven myself for all of the mistakes I'd made. I currently don't regret anything.
But if I had to choose, it would be giving energy to people who I knew wouldn't be a good fit in my life. I've entertained a handful of people knowing that I shouldn't have in the first place. I knew these individuals didn't align with my morals, values, and energy. This led to being forced to hold on to a memory that shouldn't have been a memory in the first place. I've wasted my time and the time of others. I've allowed my boredom to get the best of me.
The only way to avoid this ever happening again is to regularly check myself. Check-in with my mood and my headspace before inviting people into my space. I never want to choose out of desperation.
Day 7: Disconnect from social media for the day. Be mindful of how much more in the moment you are.
I couldn't honestly disconnect completely. Out of all my social media platforms, I've enjoyed Instagram the most. I'm mindful of who I follow, so I somewhat call Instagram a happy escape. I follow inspirational people and pages that start my day and week on the right foot. I've been so content in who I am as a person that I haven't allowed what others do on social media dictate how I feel.
However, for this day, I scrolled less and redirected my energy into something else. I made it a point to only check my social media three times, which seemed more manageable for me than completely disconnecting.
(How else am I supposed to laugh at my favorite memes?) I think it's best to do what works for me. I've found myself being more intentional about making myself unavailable to certain people.
Overall, I'm pleased to have done this challenge. The take-away was that I'm not as bad as I think. I've been focusing on the paint and not precisely the painting. The challenge gave me a chance to stop and reset. It also allowed me to meditate on new goals and future challenges. Since participating, I've encouraged others to do the same. It was a simple reminder that in order to receive the love we want, we have to make it a point to love ourselves the same way we would want others to love us.
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Writer, Empath, Listener, Self Improver, and a motivational speaker to her homegirls Teisha LeShea currently resides in California who loves to add fifteen million items to her Amazon cart. She is passionate about wellness, spiritual improvement, leveling up, and setting up twice a month therapy appointments. She writes with you in mind. Her listicle and personal stories will inspire you to dig deep within yourself to be a better you. You can follow her on Instagram @teisha.leshea and & @tl_teisha.leshea
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
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Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports