Something that I know is no good for me is cheese. You can just Google all of the reasons why dairy isn't the best thing for our bodies; one of them is the fact that it tends to create mucus. Even though I know that I need to leave it alone, even though I have tried some alternatives that are semi-impressive, I'm not intentional enough about avoiding cheese. If I want a slice—or three—of pizza, far too often, I'll take on the mindset that I'll eat it now and deal with the consequences later.
Maybe it's just me, but I think that's how a lot of us are when it comes to stress, anger or fear. Not that we like being stressed out, mad or fearful but, even though we know that there are certain things that we can do to avoid the circumstances that cause us to feel that way, we don't take the required proactive measures. We'll let stress, anger and fear infiltrate our lives and simply…deal with the consequences as they come.
Hopefully, one day, I'll pen a piece about the things we all can—and should—do to avoid situations that trigger these kinds of emotions altogether. But for now, if something is going on in your world that has you totally stressed out, mad as hell or scared to death right now, here is how you can make those very feelings work for, rather than against, you.
Stress kills. Not metaphorically, literally. Heart disease, asthma, diabetes, headaches and depression are all associated with stress; so is premature death. According to The American Institute of Stress, some of the signs and symptoms of stress include teeth grinding, sweaty hands and feet, feeling overwhelmed, insomnia, fatigue, constant use of OTC medication, impulsive shopping—by the way, there are 43 other things on their list too! What's unfortunate is, a lot of us are so used to being stressed out, that we don't even recognize that these kinds of symptoms are actually alerting us to the fact that something is way out of balance; that some order needs to be restored to our lives.
This is why it's a good idea to know how to chill out sometimes. If, whenever you do, you discover that you feel worse instead of better (even if it's only initially), that could be an indication that you've been ignoring your body and either you should pamper yourself, see a physician or both. So, in a weird way, this is one of the ways to make stress work in your favor. If you're always having headaches or on an emotional roller coaster ride, rather than popping an Advil or chalking it up to it being a random mood swing, slow down and listen to what your body truly needs.
There are other ways to let stress work in your favor too. Say that you're stressed because you put a project off until the last minute. Come to think of it, you're always stressed at work because you are the queen of procrastination. Use stress as a reason to create a schedule, implement short- and long-term goals and, even get an accountability partner who will keep you on track, if need be. If you finesse it right, stress can be an incentive to put your life in order.
Another way that stress can work for you is…say that you are in a relationship and you are always stressed out because of it. Did you know that when your cortisol levels (your body's natural stress hormone) are high, oxytocin is one way to bring it back down? Kissing, hugging, cuddling and sho' nuf some sex are all ways to boost your oxytocin (a natural hormone that makes you feel good and relaxes you) and can bring you closer to your partner as a direct result. Yep, in a roundabout way, stress can be bonding agent.
One more thing worth noting about stress is, when you know better, you do better. Some medical professionals and therapists alike believe that stress can help you when it comes to making wiser future decisions. By choosing to handle stressful matters and not run from them, it makes you a more resilient individual; not only that, but it stretches the "calm under pressure" mental muscle that probably wouldn't receive any attention any other way.
So yeah, stress sucks. But, with the right approach, it can also teach you how to properly prioritize, how to make yourself a top priority and also, how to deal with drama—or just regular life stuff—as it comes, in an effective and methodical kind of way.
There's nothing wrong with anger. Even Psalm 4:4 (NKJV) says, "Be angry, and do not sin. Meditate within your heart on your bed and be still. Selah." Be angry (cool). Don't let anger control your actions (not cool). To me, every feeling is like an emotional thermostat in the sense that, it is alerting us to when something is right—or not right. When it comes to anger specifically, a definition of the word reminds me that it is oftentimes rooted in perception—"a strong feeling of displeasure and belligerence aroused by a wrong; wrath; ire". Anger is typically about feeling displeased because you feel like someone wronged you or because you witnessed someone being wronged.
If you look at anger from this angle, whenever you feel this type of emotion, it's important to take a moment to process if a wrong (offense) actually has transpired or if you simply don't like something. For the record, they are not one and the same. I say that because I can't tell you how many times I got upset with another person, not so much because what they did was "wrong", but because they handled something in a particular matter (sometimes even with me) in a way that I never would. That means I didn't really need to be angry; I needed to be disappointed. On the other hand, when something like Eric Garner's killer getting off is brought to my attention? That is dead wrong, and I have every right to be angry. Still, I need to watch how I handle my anger.
To me, that's the first thing that anger is good for. What I mean by that is, if you are able to discipline yourself enough to process it without popping off—in word or deed, online or off—it can help you to master self-control and monitor your impulsivity.
To me, the other thing that anger can do is put a fire in you to end toxicity. If you're angry at work all of the time, are you putting a plan together to get another job? If you're always angry in a relationship, are you deactivating triggers? Better yet, is it one that you should remain in?
Anger is not a bad thing. It is an alarm and reminder to not be passive. If something is resulting in you becoming angry, changes need to be made. Make them.
You've probably heard fear being broken down as an acronym—False Evidence Appearing Real. That's pretty insightful. Not 100 percent always the case, but insightful still. I will say that what that mental approach to fear makes me think about is creating problems, issues or drama, based on your own overthinking more than anything else; you know, getting so worried to the point of becoming fear-filled that something is going to happen that hasn't even happened yet—and probably won't. I say that because there are many studies supporting that 85 percent of what we worry about doesn't ever happen; the other 15 percent, we are able to handle when it does.
That's comforting to hear, but what if you know that you're not the best at initially processing the other 15 percent either? Good question. It kind of depends on what you're fearful about. If you're scared that you won't be able to make the rent this month, is it because you lost your job, you've got a roommate who hits-or-misses with their portion of it or because you misspend? By just taking a moment to sit down and process what is triggering the fear, that can inspire you to make some different life choices—speak with your landlord, get a new roommate, put a budget in place.
Or, maybe you're staying in a counterproductive relationship because you're "scared" to be alone. What exactly are you frightened of? Starting over? Not meeting someone new? Your ticking clock? If it's Column A, ask yourself if it's worse to start over or waste your precious time. If it's Column B, maybe it's time to put a vision board, a bucket list or a travel itinerary together. If it's Column C, set a doctor's appointment to get the accurate information about the state of your health and fertility.
Fear likes to feed off of emotions and lack of knowledge. When you're willing to address your fears, they tend to become smaller. You end up with more insight about yourself and your life, as a bonus, too.
One more thing about fear. I hate heights; mere words cannot express just how much! I mean, I'm the girl who, if I get a hotel room that is too high up, I'm going to hyperventilate. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine decided to "treat me" to ziplining for my birthday. They didn't tell me ahead of time and, once I arrived, they kind of pushed my dare button to get me to go through with it. Lawd, lawd, I will never forget those first two lines. I thought I was gonna pass out! But once I got halfway through (there were eight different ones), a lot of the fear that I had subsided. It's still not my favorite thing on the planet to do, but I would do it again and my acrophobia (fear of heights) is not nearly as intense as it used to be.
Fear is a bully. Conquering it makes it so much less of a threat in your life. So yeah, let's close this article out this way. The way to make fear work in your favor is keeping in mind that it oftentimes is rooted in ignorance or vulnerability. The more you are willing to face rather than run from your fear, the more self-aware and stronger you become. As a result, you are willing to take more risks, try more things and live more fully. If you let it, fear can actually be what drives you; not stifles you.
Of course, all of these emotions are a bit more layered and complex than I got into. But I do hope that now you are able to better see why stress, anger and/or fear is not your enemy. With the right approach, each can be used to make you more of the woman you actually want to become. They can make you thank them, not avoid them.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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.
With two Eclipses happening this month, this is one of the powerhouse months of 2023 and one that will be unforgettable for many. The month begins in Libra Season, and with Mercury also entering Libra on October 4th. When Mercury is in Libra, the focus is on keeping the peace, creating harmony, and finding the beauty in life. Relationships, finances, pleasure, and creation are all the focus during Libra Season, and this month overall will be creating a lot of positive change in these areas of life.
What October 2023 Has In Store For Your Zodiac Sign
On October 8th, Venus moves into earth sign Virgo, and love takes on a more serious and grounded tone here. Venus in Virgo has high standards and wants the best of the best. There is a possibility of becoming overly critical in love or relationships with this energy, however overall, Venus in Virgo will be focused on letting go of unhealthy behaviors in love and creating more positive ways of relating, giving, and receiving in relationships. A few days later, Pluto goes direct in Capricorn after going retrograde in Aquarius back in May, and fewer power struggles and obstacles are more likely.
With Pluto direct in Capricorn, it is easier to reach your goals, build success, and see your own self-empowerment in it all.
On October 12th, Mars enters Scorpio, and Mars loves being in this water sign as it’s the ruler of Scorpio. Mars in Scorpio is passionate and direct and heats things up when it comes to your relationships. Mars will be in Scorpio until November 24th, and a spark is definitely being lit. A few days later, we have a New Moon Solar Eclipse in Libra.
This Solar Eclipse is creating a fresh start in love, but may also be bringing things to the forefront that are uncomfortable to see. A Solar Eclipse in Libra is relationship-oriented, and this is where you will be seeing the most impact now.
Before the month ends, Mercury enters Scorpio on October 22nd, Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in Taurus on October 28th. The end of October is when a lot of big moves are being made, and transformations are occurring, and it’s about letting go of baggage before moving forward again. The Lunar Eclipse in Taurus is another eclipse that has an impact on relationships, as both Libra and Taurus are ruled by Venus, the planet of love.
Through what is changing and transforming in some of your close relationships, this energy suggests there is greater love on the other side of it. Find gratitude in where you are, and stand in hope and self-belief for where you want to be.
Your October 2023 Monthly Horoscopes
ARIESAriesKyra Jay for xoNecole
Your strength is needed this month, Aries. During October, the Sun is in Libra, meaning the Sun is in your 7th house. The 7th house is the house of love and relationships, but it’s also the house of open enemies and opposition. This month, you will be finding your balance between the opening you are seeing in your life right now and what still needs to be built.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse in this area of your chart, the 7th house, and this is an impactful time for you emotionally. The intentions you have been setting in your love life and financially are creating a new scene for you. This is a good month to do more of the things that make you happy, to get creative, and to notice the beauty in your life. Before the month ends, your ruling planet, Mars, moves into your 8th house, and things get deep and even more emotional for you moving into November.
TAURUSTaurusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of reflection for you, Taurus. There is a lot happening this month and a lot happening for you personally, yet you are taking the time to tend to your inner world and recreate your safe spaces. With Venus in a fellow earth sign and in your 5th house of romance for most of this month, you will be sure to have plenty of love in your life to help you through some of the downtime you are getting in October.
Mars moves into your house of love on October 12th, and this is heating things up for you in your relationships and sex life. Fuel your passions and notice what is lighting you up inside right now. Before the month ends, on October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your sign, and you are going through some major life changes. You are closing one chapter of your life of self-discovery and moving forward with a new view of yourself and the world around you.
GEMINIGeminiKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about letting go, Gemini. You are moving through a time of releasing what has been filling your world with more chaos and confusion than clarity and are paving a new path for yourself. Your ruling planet, Mercury, is in your house of happiness for most of this month, and you are really thinking of the things that your heart wants and expressing yourself through this space of openness as well. Communication channels are exciting for you this month.
On October 14th, the New Moon Eclipse will be highlighting all of the energy of love you have been feeling this month and will be helping you hone in on your creative passions and hobbies as well. This month is surprising you on how well things turn out when you let go of what isn’t working. The second eclipse of the month is on the 28th, and this one for you is about laying the past to rest once and for all and giving yourself time to heal and process.
CANCERCancerKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is an activating month for you, Cancer. There are some eye-opening moments happening, and a lot of things are coming to a head. The energy of the month is about letting things find their place and allowing yourself to be okay in the process. Venus is in your 3rd house of communication for most of this month, and you will be able to communicate more freely how you are feeling and what you need in your relationships right now.
With the Sun in Libra and in your 4th house for most of October, home is really where the heart is right now. Spending time in comfortable environments where you feel the most at ease is nourishing. Before the month ends, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse in your 11th house of community, and things are coming full circle for you. Lean on your support systems and community for an extra hand, and know that you deserve to take up space.
LEOLeoKyra Jay for xoNecole
This is a month of things moving forward for you, Leo. Patience is still needed, as things may not be moving as quickly as expected, however, they are moving nonetheless, and you are leaving the space of stagnation you have been feeling the past couple of months. Openings are coming into your life, and with Venus now in your 2nd house, you are able to capitalize on what you have been investing in and claim your abundance.
The Solar Eclipse happening mid-month will be awakening something within you when it comes to expressing yourself. You are breaking free from fears, limitations, and self-judgments and seeing yourself as someone who deserves to be heard. The Sun is also in this area of your chart until the end of the month, and you have all the support from the universe right now to speak up and speak your truths.
VIRGOVirgoKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of blessings for you, Virgo. This year has been a year of a lot of ups and downs for you, and in the second half of this year, you really get to settle into more stability and positive fruition. You are being guided to use your instincts wisely this month, however, so as to keep blessings rolling. Your ruling planet, Mercury, will be in your 2nd house of income for most of the month, as well as the Sun, and financially, this is a really good month for you.
On October 8th, Venus moves into your sign, and you are receiving and feeling the love right now. Venus will be in your sign until November 8th, and over the next month, this is a good time for your relationships and business, receiving positive feedback, and putting yourself out there. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Lunar Eclipse happening in your 9th house of adventure, and you could be seeing some travel or education plans coming to fruition now. You are really ready to enjoy how far you have come this month.
LIBRALibraKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about creating your dreams, Libra. This is an exciting month for you and one where you are healing your inner child, gaining a new perspective, and manifesting your life. Libra Season is fully underway, and this is an impactful Libra Season for you, as there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your sign on the 14th. This Solar Eclipse is your time to shine, to bring your dreams to the forefront, and to let go of the past that doesn’t resonate with you anymore. It’s all about the vision this month; focus on the best one for yourself.
With the Sun and Mercury in your 1st house of self for most of the month and Venus in your 12th house of closures, you are finding your balance between the new and the old. You know there is a lot to release emotionally in your life still, but you are also giving yourself the space and freedom to soak in the good that has already arrived and making you happy right now. On October 23rd, Libra Season ends, and you are ready to focus more on your plans for the future.
SCORPIOScorpioKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a month of rebirth for you, Scorpio. This is one of the most powerful months for you and one where you are starting fresh in many ways. Mercury is in your house of endings for most of the month, and your mind is focused on your spirituality, finding solutions, and letting go of perspectives and habits that don’t serve you or your health. Through the transformations that are occurring right now, new life is coming to fruition.
Mars and Mercury both enter your sign before Scorpio Season begins on the 23rd, and by the end of October, the energy moves from release to receive. You have more energy at your disposal when Mars is in your sign, and you are moving through a time of passion, action, and making things happen for yourself. This Scorpio Season for you is one where you are creating a new life for yourself and following the dreams you left to the wayside.
SAGITTARIUSSagittariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
Sagittarius, October is all about the heart and about showing up. This month for you is a time of support, friendship, and community, and a time where you are really discovering who your people are. You are awakening to what your inner child needs to heal and are seeking forgiveness this month. This is a time for you to move toward a new path in your life, one that feels more fulfilling for you and your well-being.
Venus is in Virgo and in your 10th house of career this month, and you are seeing some positive changes within your professional world. You are being received especially favorably right now, and this is a good month to ask for a promotion, network, or redefine your career goals. On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening in your 11th house, and your hopes and dreams are coming true for you. The clarity you gain this month is life-changing.
CAPRICORNCapricornKyra Jay for xoNecole
This month is all about patience, finding your peace, and exploring the world, Capricorn. You are focusing a lot on your belief systems, your intentions, and what goals you have set for yourself and your life. Venus is in your 9th house of adventure for most of the month, and you are really thinking about the big picture right now. You are doing more things differently this time of the year, thinking outside of the box and allowing your intentions to come to fruition.
On October 10th, Pluto goes direct in your sign. Pluto retrograde entered your sign in June, and you finally get to settle into the transformations that have been occurring since then. You’ve had a lot of moments of self-clarity and change, but now you are ready to live in this space and experience fewer changes to your environment. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening, and this Lunar Eclipse is a time of love coming full circle for you. Relationships are developing at the end of October, and you are letting go of the past in love.
AQUARIUSAquariusKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is all about allowing life to unfold effortlessly, Aquarius. The path of least resistance is the most rewarding one, and this month, you are tapping into your inner faith. You have truly been trusting the process, and with the Sun in your 9th house for most of the month, the divine guidance is there for you right now. This month is about trusting that things are coming together for you and enjoying your life how you can right now.
On October 14th, there is a New Moon Solar Eclipse happening, and this eclipse is helping you build new foundations in your life. You have goals you want to set, places you want to see, and people you want to meet, and this eclipse is highlighting all of that for you. The second eclipse of the month is happening on the 28th, and this Lunar Eclipse is about letting things settle in, finding your ground, and nourishing your inner world. You are going within a lot this month, and through the new insight you have found, you are ready to make some concrete decisions that have been needed.
PISCESPiscesKyra Jay for xoNecole
October is a time of compassion, nurture, and love, Pisces. You are putting the love into your life and feeling this energy come back to you as well. Venus is in Virgo, your opposite sign, for most of the month, and this is good energy when it comes to your relationships and your love life. Your focus is on the people in your life and where you want things to grow in love, and you are putting in the effort to make your dreams come true for you here.
With the Sun also in your 8th house of commitments for most of the month, another love area of your chart, you can expect this to be a more emotional month for you. You are getting vulnerable, expressing where you stand, and creating a new slate for yourself in love. On October 28th, there is a Full Moon Eclipse happening in your 3rd house of communication, and the messages and insights you have been looking for are coming in.
The end of the month is a busier time for you, and you will be suddenly seeing everything you want to do and plan right now.
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Featured image by Kyra Jay for xoNecole