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    The 9 Best Wellness Getaways for Anyone Looking to Reset and Renew

    We’re big proponents of integrating wellness into our daily routines, and many of our favorite at-home self-care practices are completely free. But sometimes we crave more of a refresh than gratitude lists or a legs-up-the-wall pose can give us. Whether you’re thinking ahead to summer travel or craving an escape from winter weather, a well-planned wellness getaway will help you slip into relaxation mode.
    Let’s be honest, some vacations leave us feeling even more tired and rundown than when we left. These wellness-focused destinations, on the other hand, make it easy for you to fully unwind, so you can come back refreshed and renewed. Think: an indulgent all-inclusive resort à la Costa Rica or Palm Springs, or a true wellness playground like Los Angeles or Scottsdale. Searching for a bit of culture? We’ve got options on that front, too. Keep scrolling to find the best wellness getaways, with destinations for every type of traveler. All that’s left to do is grab your bestie (or fly solo!) and choose your destination.

    Los Angeles, California

    A mecca for all things health and wellness, Los Angeles offers so much more than just great weather. Sure, eternal sunshine is a *major* selling point, but LA is also a standout destination for wellness enthusiasts. Spend your mornings hiking the Griffith Park Trails, or pass your favorite TikTokers on a hot girl walk up Runyon Canyon. Or if nature isn’t your thing, hit up a boutique fitness studio like Bünda in West Hollywood or Body By Simone in Brentwood.
    Healthy eating can be challenging while you’re on vacation—but, trust us, you won’t have that issue in LA. Take a stroll through one of the many farmer’s markets in Santa Monica, Brentwood, or Beverly Hills, or grab your favorite healthy snacks at the famed natural food store Erewhon. In terms of healthy restaurants, you’ll have your pick in all types of cuisines. Spend your days on the beach and your nights winding down at a luxe hotel or over dinner at Café Gratitude or the Butcher’s Daughter.
    Where to stay: Santa Monica Proper (from $549 a night), Hotel Figueroa (from $200)

    Santa Fe, New Mexico

    Calling all culture lovers: Santa Fe is the getaway you’ve been searching for. The architecture in itself will make you think you’ve entered another time period, and the laid-back lifestyle is a welcome break from reality (especially for us city-dwellers). What I didn’t realize before visiting was how much culture Santa Fe has. It’s actually the oldest capital city in the United States and has one of the largest art markets. There are over 250 art galleries to visit, plus a number of art festivals, markets, and museums. If indulging in art, culture, and authentic food is your idea of self-care (same), you’ll be right at home in Santa Fe. Pro tip: order your New Mexican food “Christmas style,” which comes with a combination of red and green chile sauce.
    And Santa Fe is not without its relaxing indulgences either. The Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado welcomes families, couples, and solo travelers seeking a desert retreat. During your stay, you’ll be immersed in the desert scenery, with access to luxe spa treatments, adventure excursions, and ski trails.
    Where to stay: Four Seasons Resort Rancho Encantado Santa Fe (from $650 a night), La Fonda on The Plaza (from $174)

    Austin, Texas

    OK, we know Austin is known for its breakfast tacos and live music—which, by the way, we love—but this rapidly growing city has really upped its wellness game in recent years. You’ll find all sorts of boutique fitness studios in Austin, with plenty of healthy restaurants and spas to choose from, too. Plus, it’s got tons of great hiking trails and camping destinations. Truly, Austin checks the boxes for any type of traveler.
    For a more relaxing trip than you might expect from Austin, skip the late nights out and embrace all the wellness-boosting amenities this city has to offer. Nature lovers should grab a smoothie from Juiceland or Sunlife Organics before heading over to Lady Bird Lake, where you’ll find Austin’s most active and outdoorsy residents. Café No Sé and Bouldin Creek Cafe are great options for a sort-of-healthy meal.
    We highly recommend booking a stay at Miraval, where you’ll be encouraged to fully unplug. The expansive resort offers jaw-dropping scenery and an approachable take on wellness, complete with meditations, sound baths, and a full spa, pool, and fitness studio.
    Where to stay: Miraval (from $769 a night), Hotel San José (from $239)

    Palm Springs, California

    Solo travelers and wellness buddies alike will love Palm Springs for its tranquil desert scenery and laid-back energy. If relaxation is what you’re after, look no further. The desert offers plenty of resorts and spas to choose from, but We Care stands out among the rest as a true destination for restoration and self-care. The all-inclusive boutique spa designs personalized wellness experiences for each guest, with access to a stunning 20-acre space in the middle of the desert. You’ll find everything you need to achieve true rejuvenation: spa treatments, a fresh juice bar, a heated pool, and gorgeous rooms with custom circadian light fixtures to help reset your internal clock. Each day, start your morning with a guided breathwork session, then choose from experiences like reiki, crystal sound baths, and more.
    Where to stay: We Care Spa (from $1,830 for two nights), Korakia Pensione (from $246 a night)

    Sedona, Arizona

    I’ve truly never felt more relaxed than I did after a few days in Sedona—and I didn’t even get a massage while I was there! What I did do, though, was visit the city’s four main energy vortexes. A vortex is an area of concentrated electromagnetic energy, which can typically be identified by twisted tree trunks or branches and swirling land formations. Spiritually, these places are thought to be incredibly balancing and healing. You may think of places such as Machu Picchu or the Great Pyramid, but you don’t need to travel that far to feel this magic. Home to some of the most powerful vortexes, Sedona brings a healing energy you simply have to experience to understand. Even “woo-woo” skeptics can feel how vibrant and alive the land is. Personally, I’ve been on a manifestation spree since my visit to this beautiful red-rock wonderland.
    Sedona is a spiritual playground, with crystal shops, psychic readings, aura photographs, and reiki healing available on nearly every corner. If you’re looking to be pampered, the Enchantment Resort nestled in Boynton Canyon offers massages, facials, and mindfulness experiences (and the most incredible views) to reset your body and your mind after days spent hiking or biking.
    Where to stay: Enchantment Resort (from $560 a night), The Wilde (from $280), Green Tree Inn (from $110)

    Atenas, Costa Rica

    You can’t talk about wellness getaways and *not* mention Costa Rica, a hotbed for restoration and relaxation. There’s no better place to nourish your body and mind—whether you head to a resort and don’t leave the grounds until check-out, or choose to stay at more of a no-frills hotel and spend your days learning to surf and hanging with the locals. The lush scenery alone will leave you feeling instantly grounded.
    For a true escape from your day-to-day, consider a couple of nights at The Retreat, a boutique luxury resort offering a transformative wellness experience. Situated on a hilltop in Atenas, you’ll overlook the Pacific Ocean as you meditate on the deck, dip in the pool, or enjoy a chef-curated daily menu of healthy, nourishing recipes. There are a number of wellness packages to choose from, which include anti-inflammatory meals, cooking classes, spa services, and more. The experience will leave you feeling completely renewed.
    Where to stay: The Retreat (from $460 a night)

    Ojai Valley, California

    We promise, just *one* more California rec. The West Coast is bursting with options for wellness getaways, but Ojai is not to be missed. This quiet town—just over an hour from Los Angeles—is the perfect slow-paced destination to take a break from the hustle and bustle of a bigger city. It may not be the cheapest option, but there’s a reason wellness enthusiasts flock here. The extreme beauty of this place will leave you feeling instantly lighter. The city is only about four square miles, but it lives large with gorgeous views of the Topatopa Mountains and a walkable village full of restaurants and shops.
    Whether you plan to visit a relaxing spa, like Spa Ojai at the Ojai Valley Inn, or simply want to explore a new place, the small-town charm is welcoming to all. Browse through the locally owned markets, galleries, and stores, such as Bart’s Books or the Porch Gallery. Spiritual junkies will want to visit one of the seven energy vortexes, and wine lovers should add Topa Mountain Winery and Ojai Vineyard to their list. Most importantly: Don’t miss the famed “Pink Moment” at dusk, when the whole sky lights up a soft pink.
    Where to stay: Ojai Valley Inn (from $560 a night), Ojai Retreat Inn (from $110)

    Hudson Valley, New York

    It wasn’t until I started traveling extensively that I fully realized how lucky I am to have grown up in the Hudson Valley. It’s hard not to feel relaxed when surrounded by mountainous scenery, small-town energy, and a sense of quiet I only appreciated after years of living in New York City. The Hudson Valley has always had a lot to offer fitness lovers, with plenty of hiking trails, rock climbing, and lakes and rivers for water sports, but recent years have brought even more wellness experiences to the area. In towns like Beacon, New Paltz, and Gardiner, you’ll find local restaurants, shops, and farms with activities for the whole family.
    Gardiner is home to Wildflower Farms, part of Auberge Resorts, where you can reconnect with yourself while surrounded by meadows of flowers and wild woodlands. Enjoy farm-to-table meals, rustic-chic cabins and cottages, and a slew of events and excursions.
    Where to stay: Wildflower Farms (from $600 a night)

    Scottsdale, Arizona

    Another tranquil desert destination, Scottsdale puts wellness at the forefront, with your pick of spas and hotels, as well as the most awe-inducing scenery. Truly, I wanted to move there when I first visited. Not only is the temperature enjoyable year-round, but the city offers plenty of hiking trails, fitness classes, and wellness studios.
    CIVANA is an excellent choice for every type of traveler, especially those looking to prioritize their wellness. You can book a regular stay or opt for an inclusive package. The resort tailors your stay with personalized wellness experiences set against gorgeous desert backdrops. Get your heart pumping with a cardio strength class, stay balanced with daily intention-setting ceremonies, or embark on a kayaking excursion. Its spa offers massage therapies, well-being treatments, facials, and more.
    Where to stay: CIVANA (from $287 a night)

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    The STI Tests You Need, According To Your Exact Risk Profile

    Sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are common, but the types of STI testing you need may vary by your risk factors. Find out what’s recommended for you…
    If you’re sexually active, particularly with multiple partners, you’ve probably heard the following advice many times: Use protection and make sure you get tested. This is important because people can have a sexually transmitted infection (STI) without knowing it. In many cases, no signs or symptoms occur.
    READ MORE: Here’s How To Have A Discussion With Your Doctor About Sex
    But what types of STI testing do you need? And how often should you be screened? The answers depend on your age, your sexual behaviours and other risk factors.
    If you’re a woman, don’t assume that you’re receiving STI testing every time you have a gynaecologic exam or Pap Smear. Regardless of your gender and age, if you think you need STI testing, request it from your doctor. Talk to your doctor about your concerns and mention specifically what infections you think you might have. Here are some guidelines for STI testing for specific sexually transmitted diseases.
    Chlamydia and gonorrhea
    Get screened annually if:You’re a sexually active girl or woman under age 25You’re a woman older than 25 and at risk of STIs — for example, if you’re having sex with a new partner or multiple partners
    Chlamydia and gonorrhea screening is done either through a urine test or through a swab inside the penis in men or from the cervix in women. The sample is then analysed in a laboratory. Screening is important because if you don’t have signs or symptoms, you can be unaware that you have either infection.
    HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis
    The Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) encourages HIV testing, at least once, as a routine part of medical care if you’re an adolescent or adult between the ages of 13 and 64. The CDC advises yearly HIV testing if you are at high risk of infection.
    Request testing for HIV, Syphilis and Hepatitis if you:Test positive for gonorrhea or chlamydia, which puts you at greater risk of other STIsHave had more than one sexual partner since your last test
    Use intravenous (IV) drugs
    Your doctor tests you for syphilis by taking either a blood sample or a swab from any genital sores you might have. The sample is examined in a laboratory. A blood sample is taken to test for HIV and hepatitis.
    Genital Herpes
    No good screening test exists for herpes, a viral infection that can be transmitted even when an infected person doesn’t have symptoms. Your doctor may take a tissue scraping or culture of blisters or early ulcers, if you have them, for examination in a laboratory. But a negative test doesn’t rule out herpes as a cause for genital ulcerations.
    READ MORE: 12 Reasons Why You’re Suddenly Experiencing Painful Sex
    A blood test also may help detect a herpes infection, but results aren’t always conclusive. Some blood tests can help differentiate between the two main types of the herpes virus. Type 1 is the virus that more typically causes cold sores, although it can also cause genital sores. Type 2 is the virus that more typically causes genital sores. Still, the results may not be totally clear, depending on the sensitivity of the test and the stage of the infection. False-positive and false-negative results are possible.
    Certain types of human papillomavirus (HPV) can cause cervical cancer while other varieties of HPV can cause genital warts. Most sexually active people become infected with HPV at some point in their lives, but never develop symptoms. The virus typically disappears within two years.
    No HPV screening test is available for men, in whom the infection is diagnosed only by visual inspection or biopsy of genital warts. In women, HPV testing involves:
    Pap Smear. Pap tests, which check the cervix for abnormal cells, are recommended every two years for women between ages 21 and 30. Women age 30 and older can wait three years between Pap tests if their past three tests have been normal.
    HPV test. Samples for the HPV test are collected from the cervical canal. This test usually isn’t offered to women younger than 30 because HPV infections that will ultimately clear up on their own are so common in this age group.
    HPV has also been linked to cancer of the vulva, vagina, penis and anus. Vaccines can protect both men and women from some types of HPV, but they are most effective when administered before sexual activity begins.
    READ MORE: 7 Reasons Your Period Might Be Late — Other Than Pregnancy
    At-Home STI Testing
    Gaining acceptance and popularity are at-home test kits for certain STIs, such as HIV, chlamydia and gonorrhea. For home STI testing, you collect a urine sample and then follow the instructions in the package insert. However, tests done on samples you collect yourself may have a higher rate of false-positive results, meaning the test indicates you have an STI that you really don’t have. If you test positive from a home test, contact your doctor or a public health clinic to confirm the test results.
    If you test positive for an STI, the next step is to consider further testing and then to get treatment as recommended by your doctor. In addition, inform your sex partners. Your partners need to be evaluated and treated, because you can pass some infections back and forth.
    Expect to feel various emotions. You may feel ashamed, angry or afraid. It may help to remind yourself that you’ve done the right thing by getting tested so that you can inform your partners and get treated. Talk with your doctor about your concerns. More

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    Should I Take CBD or Melatonin Before Bed?

    You’ve tried taking a relaxing soak, cutting off your caffeine habit at 3 p.m., and resisting the urge to TikTok the night away (a feat in and of it self)—all in the name of a good night’s sleep—yet the quest for quality shut-eye continues. Thanks to the $64 billion a year the sleep aid market rakes in, we’ve got our pick of natural sleep supplements that promise a one-way ticket to dreamland. But arguably the top picks that people are adding to their sleep checklist? CBD and melatonin. The question is, which is better to take before bed: CBD for sleep or melatonin for sleep? I sought out experts to put the sleep debate to rest (pun intended). Read on to find out whether CBD or melatonin came out on top to land you in Snooze City.

    In this article

    What is CBD?
    From skincare and your favorite foods to wellness products and dog treats, there’s no denying that CBD is everywhere. What was once a controversial, hotly-debated supplement is now a mainstream, even en vogue phenomenon. But what really is CBD and why is it being touted as a cure-all elixir? “CBD, or cannabidiol, is one of the cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant,” explained Chester Wu, MD, a double-certified doctor in psychiatry and sleep medicine reviewer at Rise Science. “Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that bind to receptors in your central nervous system and interact with the endocannabinoid system in your body. CBD isn’t the psychoactive part of cannabis that gets you high—that’s tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. CBD is known for making you feel relaxed and less anxious, and it may have some pain relieving properties, too.”

    What is melatonin?
    Whether or not you’re one of the 84 million Americans who struggles to catch quality Zzzs, you’ve likely heard about melatonin and that it regulates the body’s natural sleep-wake cycle, but what does that actually mean? “Melatonin is a hormone that’s made in your brain to help get your body ready for sleep,” described Dr. Wu. “It lowers your body temperature, blood pressure, stress hormones, and how alert you feel, helping you drift off. Melatonin for sleep can also be made in a lab and packaged into everything from gummies to sprays, creams to capsules. In supplement form, melatonin can help you feel sleepy at times you usually wouldn’t, like during the day if you work night shifts, or if you’re battling jet lag or trying to move your sleep schedule.”

    Which is better to take to help promote a good night’s rest?
    Sleep is individualized, and can be super tricky to pin point. Translation: There’s not a one-size-fits-all sleep solution. “The answer will depend on the underlying issues that might be causing sleep problems,” conveyed Po-Chang Hsu, MD, a medical content expert at Sleeping Ocean. “If a person experiences poor sleep due to anxiety, chronic stress, racing thoughts, or pain, they can try CBD. However, if one can’t sleep because of an inconsistent schedule, shift work, or jet lag, they should try melatonin, as it works with the body’s internal clock.” Tom Greenspan, a sleep expert and sleep science coach and Co-Founder at VS Mattress agreed: “It depends on the individual. Melatonin is more suitable for people with jet lag or shift work disorder. CBD for sleep may be more beneficial for those with anxiety issues or insomnia, due to its calming and anti-inflammatory effects.”
    In other words, melatonin and CBD do not have the same function. Melatonin acts as the body’s naturally-produced hormone that tells the body it’s time to go to sleep, while CBD does not tell the body to sleep, but it does help the mind and body relax, which is why it’s promising for people who cannot sleep due to stress, insomnia, etc. 
    So now you may be wondering why not take both? “Both are popular supplements that may help induce more sound sleep,” affirmed Dr. Sherpa, a holistic physician at Nature’s Rise. “There’s a great debate over which is more effective, but they complement each other. When used together, CBD and melatonin may have enhanced effects. Research has found that using both CBD and melatonin not only led to deeper sleep but also improved the overall duration of rest.”
    James Oliver, a sleep lead researcher and Founder at Hey Mattress, also recommended taking both CBD and melatonin in combination as an effective strategy to support better sleep quality: “CBD oil has been known to have calming effects on the body, which can help you relax and fall asleep more easily. On the other hand, taking melatonin before bed can help reset [your sleep-wake cycle] quickly so you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer throughout the night.” Before taking CBD, melatonin, or a mixture of the two, be sure to discuss the options with your doctor to decide which method is best for you, as well as dosage. 

    Are there any downsides? 
    While CBD and melatonin clearly have bragging rights for promoting a bright-eyed and bushy-tailed morning, there are some drawbacks to both worth noting. Dr. Wu pointed out that CBD isn’t regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), so it’s important to purchase CBD from a trusted source (we recommend Equilibria). Identifying the exact dosage that’s right for you can be difficult since it’s unregulated by the FDA and products can be inconsistent. Additionally, Dr. Sherpa said there have been reports of CBD interfering with certain medications, so it’s worth reiterating the importance of consulting a doctor when starting CBD supplementation to ensure safe and optimal use. 

    As for melatonin, Dr. Wu mentioned that the FDA classifies it as a dietary supplement, so there are no strict rules or dosage guidelines regulating it. “As the amount of melatonin and the time you take it can dramatically change the effects, without clear guidance on these things, it’s easy to keep missing the mark when it comes to trying to fall asleep with melatonin,” he said. What’s more, the jury is still out on whether long-term use of melatonin supplements is safe and they may not be suitable for those with sleep disorders like insomnia. Finally, according to Greenspan, potential side effects of melatonin include headaches, nausea, dizziness, and difficulty waking in the morning. 

    Please consult a doctor or a mental health professional before beginning any treatments. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical or mental health condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read in this article.

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    The Founder of Megababe Will Transform the Way You Think of Your Body—Here Are Her Tips

    Welcome to The Everygirl Podcast. Whether you’re looking for insider secrets from successful women that have your dream job, are interested in expert advice to transform your health and feel your best, or just want to be entertained and laugh along with us on your commute, we’ve got you covered.

    Growing up in the early 2000s was not for the faint of heart: low-rise jeans were trending, most celebs walking the red carpet had the same (unrealistic) body type, and Regina George berating herself in the mirror in Mean Girls burned itself into your brain. These are the things that shaped many of our perceptions about ourselves and our bodies. Luckily, the 2020s have brought us body acceptance advocates like Megababe founder and “Body Talk” author Katie Sturino, this week’s guest on The Everygirl Podcast. If you’re looking to get rid of toxic body negativity or just love yourself more, Katie has a ton of advice for you. Read on for some of her best advice for achieving body acceptance, and check out this week’s episode of The Everygirl Podcast for more.

    Find a community of support
    Katie struggled with her body image for most of her adult life. She didn’t fully accept and love her body until she was 34 years old and realized that she was not alone in her experience of negative body image. “It was like I was standing alone, holding my breath my whole life, and then the lights came on and there were so many women in the room who were like, ‘We look like you too, and that’s OK!’” Katie said. A crucial moment for her was creating an online community of women who had struggled with body image their whole lives and were reclaiming the narrative around their bodies. To build your community, reach out to family and friends for support and fill your social media feed with accounts that make you feel good about yourself instead of bad. 

    Notice negative self-talk
    Before you transform the way you think about yourself and your body, you have to get a sense of where you’re at emotionally: how are you speaking to yourself every day? What do you say to yourself when you look in the mirror, or walk into a room full of people you’ve never met before? According to Katie, the most powerful step is to notice negative self-talk. Once you notice that you are being extra hard on yourself (especially regarding your appearance), you can work on changing those thoughts.

    Set clear boundaries
    For many women, negative body image and physical insecurities have been passed down through generations. Different age groups set different expectations for their appearances, but all of these expectations stem from the idea that our bodies are somehow not good enough. Katie discusses some of the conversations she has had with family members, and how she has set boundaries and entered those conversations with empathy. According to her, the most effective approach when a family member or close friend comments on your appearance is to empathize with the insecurities that the person must be feeling before drawing the line and letting them know that those comments don’t have a place in your relationship. As Katie said, “It’s about taking someone else’s insecurities off of you.”

    Know the true definition of body acceptance
    When it comes to your relationship with your body, thinking in extremes is rarely helpful. Katie explained that people often assume that loving your body means you don’t want to change anything. “People will be like, ‘You can’t lose weight because that would mean that you’re not accepting of your body.’ That’s not true. What I am saying is that my value is not connected to my body.” If you feel like cutting your hair, losing weight, getting Botox, treating yourself to a mani pedi, etc., and that feeling is coming from a place of confidence and positivity, then go for it. Body acceptance doesn’t mean you never care to change your appearance, but that you know your appearance does not determine your worth. More

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    Can Manifesting Really Help You Smash Your Goals?

    Angie Tiwari wakes up, slides out of bed and pulls the shutter back from her bedroom window. As she prises it ajar, a stream of morning light comes in and, as if on command, the sound of chirping birds fills the room. She sits back on the tangle of sheets and drops her eyelids to soften her gaze, turning inward. 

    In her mind’s eye, she sees herself running a yoga retreat; she’s speaking to a group of people, sharing with them how the practice helped her in difficult times. Next, she picks up a hardback journal the colour of charcoal and pulls it open at a blank page. The words flow through her fingers and onto the paper. ‘I run a successful online yoga business, I inspire and encourage people to try it, I share the true meaning of yoga, I build a collaborative community.’

    What is manifesting?

    The 29-year-old yoga teacher and founder of Tiwari Yoga isn’t alone in this practice. Alongside other items in the New Age bag of tricks (tarot reading; crystal healing), manifestation – achieving material goals through sheer force of belief, using techniques like affirmations and visualisation – has enjoyed an energised buzz over the past year, taken up by a shiny new cohort of fans. This you’ll know if you’ve clocked one of the 8m+ Instagram posts tagged #manifestation or contributed to the billions of views of manifestation content on TikTok.

    So, is it truly possible to engineer real-world change using such practices? Or is this a Covid, cost-of-living, loadshedding crisis era balm that’s likely to lose its appeal when things feel a little less chaotic? 

    Where did the concept of manifesting come from? 

    While some practitioners argue that the root ideas behind manifestation are present in certain ancient spiritual traditions, you’ve most likely come across it in the guise of the law of attraction, which is central to the New Thought movement. At its most basic, the premise is this: your thoughts and feelings send out vibrations to the universe, attracting events that share those frequencies. Good attracts good, bad attracts bad; positive thinking on steroids. 

    The idea first circulated at the start of the 19th century, but was beamed into the modern zeitgeist in 2006, when Australian writer Rhonda Byrne stitched it together with various New Age ideas in her book The Secret – 35m copies sold and counting – and the film of the same name, which you can find on Netflix. Latterly, the theory has had a wellness makeover, with evangelists Oprah and Gwyneth Paltrow testifying to its power in the past decade: a technique to sit alongside mindfulness and breathwork in your arsenal of self-care activities.

    So, why is everyone manifesting all of a sudden?

    As to the uptick in interest of late, we’ll give you three guesses. Research has found that periods of high stress correlate with a surge in ‘magical thinking’ – believing that unrelated events are causally connected, with supernatural forces affecting outcomes. Research from Tel Aviv University, for one, has found that exposing people to high-stress conditions causes them to report a greater urge to ‘knock on wood’, and to ‘knock’ more times when asked questions designed to elicit the ritual, versus those exposed to a low-stress environment.

    For health psychologist Dr Sula Windgassen (@the_health_psychologist_) it isn’t just the stress of the turbocharged price of everyday life and the pandemic’s reverberations that might be generating increased interest in manifestation, but the loss of control that’s come with it all. ‘In situations where you have little or no control, you try to find ways to make sense of things.’ This, she explains, is an evolutionary response. ‘It’s inherently threatening for us to think of the world as an unpredictable place. One way to think of manifestation is as wishful thinking. This can be a process of regaining control in some way.’

    Could it have something to do with what’s going on right now?

    So it makes sense that the practice found a following among those hit hard by Covid. Dani Britten, 32, was helping to run her mum’s cafe near her home in March 2020, when the order came to shut up shop. Not being contracted staff, she wasn’t eligible for furlough, and while her husband was, thankfully, still able to work, she had to rely on Universal Credit and Covid-era self-employment grants through repeated lockdowns. 

    ‘It’s inherently threatening for us to think of the world as an unpredictable place’

    Last November, with another lockdown looming, she was feeling low and anxious. She’d started following law of attraction coach  Esther McCann on Instagram months earlier, and when she saw McCann was running a Black Friday deal, she signed up for eight one-on-one telephone sessions, putting the cost on a credit card. 

    McCann taught her several manifestation tools, such as the emotional freedom technique (EFT, or tapping), and how to create a vision board. After doing the latter, Dani decided to follow her intuition and plunge into a new professional venture – selling healing crystals.

    Six months on, her live crystal sales which she hosts twice weekly in a Facebook group she set up for the enterprise, sell out every time.

    What does the science say about manifesting? 

    Coincidence, you ask? Or evidence of the universe in action? It’s true that much of the language used in these practices is rooted in the spiritual; and talk of the universe, vibrations and energy is understood to be pseudoscience in mainstream circles. And yet, research does support some of the techniques that sit under the manifestation umbrella. 

    Stanford psychologist Professor Carol Dweck’s seminal research into ‘growth’ versus ‘fixed’ mindsets, for one, shows that believing your capabilities are not set in stone makes you more likely to put in the work to reach a punchy goal. 

    Believing your capabilities are not set in stone makes you more likely to put in the work’

    Her work, synthesised in her book Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success, showed that people with fixed mindsets – those who believe their intelligence, character and creative ability are as static as their eye colour – limit themselves by avoiding new challenges that come with a risk of failure. In doing so, they’re less likely to learn new skills with which they don’t find instant success or to chip away at a tricky barrier to accomplishment, with ramifications for what they achieve in life. 

    Conversely, those with a growth mindset thrive on a challenge, seeing failure as an opportunity to grow and develop. Multiple studies in school pupils show that those in the latter camp routinely learn more new and difficult things, thus allowing the neurons in their brains to form fresh and stronger connections.

    ‘The law of attraction doesn’t just respond to your thoughts’

    Arguably, in some of its less fantastical iterations, manifestation is growth mindset by another name. ‘The law of attraction doesn’t just respond to your thoughts,’ says McCann. ‘It responds to the way you feel about yourself, the world and what you believe is possible. You only go as far as you believe you’re capable of going.’ 

    What about visualisations?

    As for visualisations, they’re used by professional sportspeople and elite athletes, thanks to a body of evidence that supports their efficacy. 

    ‘The success of the law of attraction lies not in purely visualising your goals, but actioning them’

    Dr Tara Swart, author of The Source, is a fan, too. Since pivoting to executive coaching, the former psychiatrist with a PhD in neuroscience has used an incarnation of manifestation with her clients. For Dr Swart, the success of the law of attraction lies not in purely visualising your goals, but actioning them; it’s the reason she gets her clients to make action boards instead of vision boards, so that the emphasis is on the work they need to put in. ‘The trick is to look at it daily, visualise the goals coming true and do so using sensory integration – imagine what the goal looks, feels and tastes like.’

    By stimulating your brain with specific, goal-oriented images every day, she says, you’re cementing them in your brain’s limbic system – the home of emotional responses and memories – and priming it to pay attention to those things.

    ‘The trick is to look at it daily, visualise the goals coming true and do so using sensory integration’

    This is called ‘value tagging’. Dr Swart gives the example of someone who wants to work in the field of mindfulness; you’ve put a visual representation of this on an action board and you’ve been doing visualisations in which you’ve pictured yourself in such a role. Then, in conversation, someone mentions that they are developing a mindfulness app. Because you’ve value-tagged this, your ears prick up; perhaps you ask for an interview and realise your ambition. In short, the visualisation creates action.

    Still, if, to you, the idea that the universe works in much the same way as filling up your Superbalist cart and hitting ‘place order’ feels a bit too good to be true, you’re in good company. 

    Are there any potential problems with manifesting?

    For Dr Windgassen, it isn’t just a question of whether the techniques that sit under the manifestation umbrella will work, but how you’ll feel if they don’t. ‘People may be more likely to turn to manifestation and other self-help ideas when they’re particularly vulnerable and depleted and, consequently, their self-esteem may be lower,’ she says. 

    Because interpretations of manifestation can be ‘magical’, she explains, if it doesn’t work out, you might see it as your fault, which could lead to negative rumination.

    ‘It could exacerbate this perception that already exists that people who are worse off deserve it’ 

    What’s more, she warns, the idea that you can manifest anything fails to account for the structural disadvantages that are woven through society. ‘It could exacerbate this perception that already exists that people who are worse off somehow deserve it, because they’ve not worked hard enough,’ she adds. ‘That forgets that privilege [like your race or social class] plays a huge role in the division. It taps into this unhelpful side of self-help culture – the idea that you’re in your own way and if only you’d get out of it, you could thrive.’ 

    How manifesting is present in some workplaces

    Research has even found that the language of manifestation has become bound up in the DNA of the networking marketing world. Researchers from Bournemouth University and the University of Essex found that the law of attraction was ‘ingrained in the culture’, of one networking marketing organisation they studied, with senior leadership warning that negative thoughts would send energy into the universe and attract bad sales. 

    ‘It ignores structural inequalities and pushes responsibility on to the individual and not the organisation,’ says Dr Melissa Carr, who worked on the research. While this didn’t cause people to work harder, she says, it did lead some individuals to blame themselves for not having the right attitude.

    What happens when manifesting doesn’t work? 

    Laura Holland, 25, a mindset and wellbeing coach (@livewell.withlaura), has experience of the negative side of the practice. Her interest in manifestation began when she saw content on wellbeing and health Instagram pages, before listening to the audiobook of The Secret. After following the tome’s advice to start small, she tried to manifest a parking space: while driving to the shops, she visualised the precise bay she wanted, repeating mentally how happy she was going to be when she got it. 

    ‘I started to overanalyse myself’ 

    When she arrived, it was vacant, and she slid straight in. Naturally, she decided to level up. ‘I launched a course and said I was going to manifest 30 women to sign up for it. But when only one woman did, I started to overanalyse myself, thinking: “Maybe I didn’t want it enough. Did I have a thought that went against it?”’ What followed was a descent into self-blame and policing her thoughts to ward off any possible negativity.

    She began to feel that she had to mask feelings of nerves with any new venture, and that she had to perform endless positivity – something she says was hard amid the tumult of a global pandemic. 

    The social media stream of manifestation content only exacerbated these feelings. ‘You see all over Instagram and TikTok that everyone’s manifesting their dreams – and you don’t have the success you were hoping for. It kind of makes the fall from not getting [what you were trying to manifest] even harder.’ 

    So, could manifestation be right for you? 

    Dr Windgassen notes that there are many positive aspects to manifestation rituals, pointing out that vision boards and intention-setting can create positive emotional experiences and increase motivation and focus – all ingredients for supporting behaviour change. 

    ‘In therapy, we often use imagery to help create emotional shifts and introduce new perspectives and solutions, or even reduce anxiety about the unknown.’ And, doubtless, sitting down and carving out space to crystalise your desires, rather than drifting through the years on autopilot, can be a nourishing practice.

    One way of doing so is to create an annual action board. Dr Swart suggests blocking out some time, then sitting down with a stack of magazines and cutting out images that speak to something you’d like to bring into your life – an interiors shoot could represent your goal of saving for a flat or house deposit. Then place it somewhere you’ll see it at least twice a day and visualise the things you want in as much detail as you can conjure: imagine walking up the path to your home, the sensation of wind on your face.

    But it’s advice that comes with a caveat, and the key to whether manifestation is right for you lies in both your mindset and your goals. 

    When could manifesting not be right for you?

    ‘It would be unhelpful to put a lot of emphasis on things that you have very little control over and may be counterproductive as a result, making you more disengaged and perhaps demoralised over time,’ adds Dr Windgassen, who reiterates Dr Swart’s approach of following up wishes with actions. ‘I would never discourage someone from dreaming big, but it’s important that you have other building blocks to help with those dreams.’ 

    When it comes to manifestation, there are rubies among the rubble. But believing that your thought vibrations alone have the power to transform your existence? To close with a cliché: all that glitters isn’t gold.

    5 science-backed steps to achieving your goals

    1. Write it down

    In 2019, psychology professor Dr Gail Matthews studied goal achievement in the workplace. Her research identified that the act of committing your intentions to paper increases your likelihood of success. Permission to pop to Waltons, granted.

    2. Get visual

    In a survey run by leadership expert Mark Murphy, those who used pictures to illustrate their goals were more likely to succeed than those who didn’t. Those who wrote down vivid goals were 1.4 times more likely to succeed than those who wrote nothing. So, use words to paint as detailed a picture as possible in your mind.

    3. Create action steps

    In the same research from Dr Matthews, participants who defined a plan of action – showing how they would make incremental moves towards their goal – were more successful than those who simply stated an aim. Those who did the best? People who did this, made themselves accountable to a friend and sent weekly progress reports.

    4. Track your progress

    A 2015 meta-analysis found that monitoring your progress is the key link between setting an intention and making good on it. The studies focused on health goals, like quitting smoking and losing weight, and found that prompting participants to track how they were doing upped the likelihood that they’d succeed.

    5. Hold yourself accountable

    You have a 65% chance of meeting a goal if you elect someone to share your intention with, according to the American Society of Training and Development. Supercharge this hack and schedule regular appointments to share your progress with them – folk who did this saw the odds go up to a dizzying 95%.

    *Words: Claudia Canavan

    *This article was originally published by Women’s Health UK More

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    A Breakdown of Miley Cyrus’ Full “Flowers” Workout Routine

    If there’s one surefire way to get over a breakup, do as Miley Cyrus does and buy yourself flowers, take yourself dancing, and sweat it out—all the while looking glam and sexy. ICYMI, I’m referring to Miley Cyrus’ latest single and music video “Flowers.” With over 100 million views of #flowersmileycyrus on TikTok, her viral video shows her cutting a rug (in what’s believed to be Liam Hemsworth’s suit BTW), not to mention gives us a taste of her steamy, must-try fitness routine (those spider push-ups are no joke). Ahead, Julia Stern, a certified functional strength coach (CFSC) and instructor at Fiture, breaks down Miley’s key workout moves and the benefits of each. Plus, a no-equipment-necessary, Miley Cyrus-inspired workout you’re also going to want to try. 

    less of a request, more of a demand
    ♬ Flowers – Miley Cyrus

    A breakdown of Miley’s workout in “Flowers” 
    If you searched for “Miley Cyrus workout routine” immediately after “Flowers” dropped, you’re not alone. Leave it to Miley to make burpees look enticing (the black lingerie set doesn’t hurt). “This workout comprises multi-joint, full-body movements covering multiple bases: you will focus on your strength, get in some cardio, and enhance your core stabilization,” explained Andrew Slane, a sports conditioning specialist and instructor at Fiture. Stern agreed: “All of [her] moves together make a great full-body workout, especially if you’re short on time and want to get a good sweat in,” Stern expressed. “Most importantly, it’s fun and challenging, so you’re likely to come back to it!”
    Eager to get started? Same. “If you want to get started with moves like this, your first step is to master basic patterns like a squat and hinge, as well as work on core activation,” Stern said. “As you get stronger, you can add in equipment and challenge yourself.” Read on for all the details of Miley’s six signature moves, according to Stern. Grab your battle ropes, a long resistance band, and a spicy ‘fit for good measure, and give them a go!

    Battle ropes
    Miley starts her intense sweat sesh with some alternating, heart-pumping battle ropes (hello, abs). Hot tip: Keep your knees bent as you pump each arm one after another à la Miley. The best part? Chances are you’ll feel like a total badass a few seconds in. “Battle ropes have so many benefits, and they’re a fun way to switch up your cardio routine. Similar to running and biking, battle ropes will also increase your heart rate and can be used for high-intensity intervals. Ropes also build strength–you’ll feel it right away in your shoulders, and your core has to be activated so you can move the ropes quickly. There’s a ton [of variations] to play with: Single-arm, double-arm, circles, and twists are all possible with ropes of different weight that can increase as you get stronger.”

    Spider push-ups
    Miley kicks it up a notch with her second exercise: a combo bear-crawl-spider-push-up, with a resistance band no less. If that sounds too hardcore, simply start with spider push-ups—they’re hard AF in their own right. Drive one knee towards the armpit on the same side as you go down for your push-up, then bring it back to a plank. “Spider push-ups are the ultimate combo of core and upper body strength. This will work your chest, triceps, and obliques. The resistance band pulls her momentum backward here, so she has to work a bit harder to [execute the] push-up and use core control to release the push-up slowly.”

    Glute bridges
    Hot take: The hip swivel Miley adds to her glute bridges is definitely not necessary, but if it makes you feel sexier, why not? If you’re sticking with good ol’ bridges, just make sure your hips are even as you hold them up, and squeeze that booty. “Glute bridges work your glutes, hamstrings, and core. Adding a weight or pausing at the top here can make it more challenging. Strong glutes protect your lower back, making it easier to climb stairs, sit down in a chair, and lift heavy boxes.”

    And now for the total-body move everybody loves to hate. That said, anyone else get the sudden urge to see how many you can do consecutively? “Burpees are so important! They get your heart rate up, but they also help you practice pushing yourself up off of the floor. A resistance band actually modifies this exercise because you don’t have to support your full body weight on the way up. It’s a great place to start if you’re newer to the move.”

    Banded lunge to knee drive
    Don’t stop now. You’ll for sure feel the burn with this move, which consists of lower body strength mixed in with cardio. Expect to activate your core, glutes, and hamstrings while getting your heart rate up. Word to the wise: Don’t be fooled by how easy Miley makes them look. “The lunge to knee drive is a move that will work your lower body as well as your core. Because this requires so much stability, your core needs to be activated so you can maintain balance. When you step back into a lunge, focus on driving your front heel into the floor. Then, slowly lift your knee towards your chest without falling over. In the beginning, you can modify this move by dropping your foot between each rep. If you want more of a challenge, see if you can do them in a row without stopping in between.”

    Bird dog
    Slowing things down for the end of her workout (phew!), Miley simultaneously extends her right arm and left leg out for the bird dog exercise. “The quadruped move is a great move regardless of your fitness level. It works on core strength stability and balance while also increasing mobility. I love to include this one at the beginning of my workouts to activate my core and prep my body to lift weights. You can modify this one by just working your arm or your leg one at a time and alternating from there.”

    Don’t have equipment? Here’s a Miley-inspired workout for you
    No equipment on hand? All you need is your own bodyweight for this “Flowers”-inspired workout courtesy of Fiture. 

    Mountain climbers: 3 sets of 16 reps
    Hip raises (to make it more challenging, place a dumbbell on hips): 3 sets of 16 reps
    Spiderman push-ups: 3 sets of 12 reps
    Lunge with knee drive hop: 4 sets of 10 reps total (2 sets per side)
    Bird dog: 3 sets of 12 reps (alternating sides), holding for 3-5 seconds at a time

    I Tried the Taylor Swift Treadmill Workout for a Week—Here’s What Happened More

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    I Tried Over 20 Pairs of Plus-Size Leggings—These 4 Made the Cut

    Finding plus-size activewear is tough, to say the least. Everything is either too tight or too camel-toe-y or too loose or too ugly (sorry, not sorry). And honestly, having good workout clothes makes working out actually bearable for me. One of the most important parts of a good workout to me is having a good pair of leggings that don’t slip or slide and actually make me feel confident, but finding a good pair of plus-size leggings is equivalent to finding a needle in a very large haystack.
    While it’s not a one-and-done motivator, I’ve been on the hunt for activewear that makes waking up at 6am to do squats just a liiiiiittle more bearable. I’ve tried on dozens of pairs, but these are the ones that actually made the cut. TBH, some of these even make me want to book that yoga class I’ve been talking about for months. Flattering, comfortable, and cute? What more could a girl ask for.
    For reference, I usually wear a size XXL.

    Our Social Editor Keely wore these on a casual day in the office once, and I went to Nordstrom the next day to try them on. On her, they looked like the perfect black leggings: cute with an oversized sweatshirt, but also durable enough to actually work out in.
    These didn’t disappoint. Nike leggings are a little weird size-wise, so I had no idea what size to try on. I took both a 1X and 2X in the fitting room, and the 1X ended up being the perfect fit. I think these would be great for a yoga class (especially hot yoga) because the material is definitely sweat-wicking without being too compressive. I also would totally wear these on a normal day, so these work double-duty. On me, I didn’t feel like they were worth the price after I’d found leggings that did the same thing at a lower price point, but if these are in your price range, I would definitely go for them.

    For the price, these are incredible. I have another pair from this brand from a few years ago, and they have lasted so long without any pilling. I basically survived with these exclusively as my go-to workout pants for months, and they’ve still managed to keep their shape and style.
    So, I had to try another pair. I tried on an XXL in these leggings (because that’s all I found in store), and they were great. I wouldn’t call them my favorite leggings of all time, but if you’re working on a budget, these are a great option. I did a few squats in the dressing room to test, and they stayed in place well without having to hold them up or move around, and had a good amount of compression.
    I would wear these for all kinds of workouts without worrying about them not holding up. (The online sizing is definitely limited on these, however, as they only go up to an XXL).

    We’re huge fans of Girlfriend Collective here—their ethics and commitment to both diversity and sustainability makes supporting them feel good, and that’s without even going into how good their products are.
    I ordered these thinking I’d return them after I tried the magic that are the next leggings, but these are a VERY close second and will certainly not be leaving my closet anytime soon. I actually immediately went to work out once I put them on because I was excited to show them off. These are extra sweat-wicking, which makes working out in them extremely comfortable. It’s honestly kind of cooling on the skin (is that even possible lol?), so I’ll definitely wear these for my most intense workouts.

    Everyone I talked to said I had to try Fabletics plus-size leggings, and this adventure finally got me to order a couple pairs online. DING DING DING, we have a WINNER! These were truly the best leggings I’ve ever tried on. I got the leggings with the highest amount of compression because they had incredible reviews, but I was really nervous about the sizing. I went with what the size guide told me, and upon first receiving the leggings, I thought there was no way they’d fit. They look so tiny before you put them on your body, but they stretch to fit you perfectly.
    I love the compression and feel of these leggings so much. I’ve worn them to the gym a few times (tiny flex, yeah, I work out, what’s it to ya), and I can’t imagine a workout where these don’t work. I love them for weight-training, but when I went for a treadmill run (HUGE flex for me, but I should admit it was a five minute warm-up and was more of a light jog than a run but whatever), they stayed in place the entire time. Truth be told, I’ve had these for a few weeks now, and they haven’t begun to pill even though I’ve washed them a few times.
    Basically, I’d buy these over and over again. I’m planning to place a lot more Fabletics orders in the future; their sports bras are calling my name! I picked them up in red and black because I knew I’d wear them constantly.


    I Recreated Famous Pinterest Outfits on My Plus-Size Body


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    Here’s How To Have A Discussion With Your Doctor About Sex

    Your gynae might have “Dr” before her name, but sometimes you have to be the one to school her. That’s because docs don’t always initiate über important talks. It goes both ways, too. We’re often embarrassed to bring up topics about our sexual health for fear of being judged. Per the Ovarian Research Trust, 66% of 18-24 year-olds are so shy of talking with a doctor about sex that they forego the visit altogether, which holds some serious risks, like not knowing your sexual health status and making poor decisions based of Internet research.

    We’ve put down some common topics often avoided at the doc’s rooms, and how you can bring ‘em up constructively.

    Talking with a doctor about: the baby convo

    Many ob-gyns are uncomfortable bringing up fertility, per a recent study. Why? They may not want to seem judgy or presumptuous, and can’t answer the “Am I fertile?” question until you start trying.

    Why It Matters

    If you’re thinking about babies, it’s time to talk about them (egg freezing too), because your reproductive years won’t last forever.

    Your Script

    “I have some questions about my fertility; I’m hoping you can give me better answers than the Internet.” Your gynae will jump at the chance to sift fact from fiction and you can get specific.

    READ MORE: 5 Small Sex Moves So Powerful You Won’t Believe You Didn’t Know Them

    Talking with a doctor about: STI tests

    These aren’t built into your annual check-up, nor are all STIs included when you say, “Test me for everything.” Plus, your doc won’t know when you need ’em unless you tell her (or she sees something amiss).

    Why It Matters

    In many cases, the longer an STI goes untreated, the more damage it can cause. And you

    could spread it. Plus, infections like HPV can turn into cervical cancer (the second most common cancer of women in South Africa and the one with the highest fatality rate) if all goes untreated.

    Your Script

    “What STI tests do you think I need?” This should lead to a chat about sex habits, number of partners, condom use and so on, to determine your risk level. Ask whenever you have a concern or have had unprotected sex. 

    READ MORE: 12 Reasons Why You’re Suddenly Experiencing Painful Sex

    Talking with a doctor about: your sexual happiness

    Loss of desire, trouble orgasming? Too few gynaes will “pry” into this part of your sex life. Almost 65% of SA women are keen to take sexual matters into their own hands, says Désir Intimates owner and MD Brodie Meyer. “They’re big on self-pleasure, with rabbit vibrators making up almost 70% of their purchases, followed closely by lubricants.”

    Why It Matters

    A stronger pelvic floor, healthier heart and immune system, better sleep and immediate pain relief… the benefits of sexual happiness are endless! 

    Your Script

    “Doc, errrr, is too much self-pleasure bad?” This will launch into a larger discussion about your sexual habits between the sheets, which can shed light on the health (and happiness) of your vagina and clitoris. Your doc can also guide you through any problems you may be experiencing during sex, like pains, which could open up a further discussion of possible causes, like endometriosis or a penetration disorder.   

    READ MORE: Pop Quiz: Do You Actually Know What’s Going On With Your Vagina? More