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    10 Ways to Upgrade Your Self-Care Routine for 2021

    It’s no surprise that we love self-care at The Everygirl; we’ve all tried dozens of face masks, perfected the CBD bubble bath, and watched Bridgerton at least three times through (staring at Regé-Jean Page is self-care). We know that caring for yourself is just as important as crushing a work presentation or keeping your home tidy (if not more), and we believe that the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. But the thing about self-care, and health in general, is that it should always be changing and growing with us. The start of a new year means it’s time to reevaluate our self-care routines and incorporate some much-needed upgrades. Whether you switch up your wellness routine after every new year or the end of 2020 requires some special cleansing, here are 10 ways to upgrade your entire self-care routine in 2021.

    1. Get outside
    So you fit in workouts, skincare, and maybe even meditate regularly. The way to upgrade the routine you already have? Take your self-care outside. Getting some fresh air can have major effects on the mind and body (yes, even when it’s cold). Take your workout outdoors by jogging, going on walks, or doing some lunches and jumping jacks at a local park. If you prefer working out in your living room, you can also take a cup of coffee to your balcony or front yard for a few minutes of quiet meditation in the morning. And if you don’t have time for a full workout or morning meditation? Take walks on your lunch break or sit outside while on conference calls.

    2. Make sexual wellness a part of your routine
    PSA: sexuality is not just the private side of relationships or what we learn about from Sex and the City reruns. Your sexuality should be just as much a part of your self-care routine as a face mask or a bubble bath (and, FYI, can be done simultaneously with both). Whether that means regularly exploring your own body, getting to know what you want (and don’t want), or building sensuality outside of the bedroom through prioritizing pleasure in all areas of your life, sensuality can (and should) be a daily practice. Remember that pleasure is your right, whether that means more pleasurable workouts, food choices, or orgasms, and in 2021, it’s high time we see sex as self-care instead of a dirty word. 

    3. Laugh more often
    “Laughter is the best medicine” is certainly a cliché, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Laughter can have a variety of mental and physical health benefits. Plus, it’s free and doesn’t come with side effects like other medicine (except maybe peeing your pants if you laugh a little too hard. You know what I’m talking about). Incorporate laughter into your routine by surrounding yourself with people who are fun to be around, choosing hilarious comedies for movie nights, and not taking life too seriously. You’ll be amazed at the humor you can find in any circumstance when you remember that the point of life is to enjoy it. 
     
    4. Multitask with movement
    Fitting in a workout is important and necessary for both our mental and physical health, but most of us still end up sitting at a desk for over eight hours a day, workout or not. Our bodies aren’t meant to live sedentarily, so fit in more consistent movement whenever you can by multitasking. For example, do bicep curls while on conference calls or go on a power walk while talking to your mom or a friend. You can also work out while listening to an online class or audiobook for your book club, or do some stretching or jumping jacks while watching TV. Oh, and whenever you’re cooking or getting ready? You know what to do: turn on a bomb playlist and dance.

    5. Take more breaks
    I don’t just mean work breaks. I mean breaks from everything (and yes, that includes self-care practices). Take breaks from Netflix binges by going for a walk or taking a warm bath, take workout breaks by scheduling a rest day, take technology breaks with a tech detox, and even take breaks from that full morning routine you’ve perfected by spending a weekend morning sleeping in, staying in PJs, reading a book, and making pancakes. The goal of self-care practices (and health in general) is not perfection; it’s balance. Nothing should ever feel too strict, regulated, or perfect. It’s time we stop seeing breaks as a weakness or failure, and instead see them as important, necessary, and healthy. Hint: if you’re feeling unmotivated, worn out, exhausted, bored, or tired of any one thing, that’s probably a sign you need a break from it.

    6. Do something “just for fun”
    Take a “fun evaluation” right now: when’s the last time you did anything just for fun? How do you spend your free time alone that isn’t bingeing Netflix? If it’s difficult (or impossible) for you to think of an answer, your very stressful adult life has likely taken precedence over a very important aspect of life: having fun. Enjoyment is not only good for you, but it’s crucial (remember how laughter is the best medicine?). Incorporate regular “playtime” in your life by turning on music and dancing, doing something creative like coloring, or going to your local jungle gym and playing on the monkey bars (bonus points that it doubles as a workout). If you feel silly “playing” or feel unproductive spending time on something “just for fun,” that’s even more reason to. 

    7. Try out non-toxic or natural products
    So you have a go-to candle that instantly relaxes you, a line-up of impressive face masks, and every item you could possibly need for a killer bubble bath. While I commend you for being on top of your self-care game, if you’re looking for a 2021 upgrade, try switching to non-toxic or all-natural products. After all, nutrition is not just about what we put in our bodies; it’s also about what we put on our bodies. Going clean doesn’t have to feel overwhelming, expensive, or wasteful. Whenever you finish a beauty product, candle, or even food, do a little research to find an alternative that’s better for you and better for the planet (bonus points for buying from a small business!). It doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing process. Instead, take baby steps that will lead to big changes. Click here for some clean beauty hacks, and click here for our non-toxic candle guide.  

    8. Set boundaries
    Self-care is about what to do to care for yourself, but it’s also about what not to do. Setting boundaries, whether they’re with work, your family, or in your relationship, should be non-negotiable. Think of boundaries as a shield to protect your energy, mental health, and overall wellness. If your energy is always drained or you notice that other people affect the way you think, you probably need to set (and keep) more boundaries. Set work boundaries by deleting work-related apps off your phone, set social media boundaries by muting accounts that don’t bring you joy, and set boundaries in your relationships by limiting your access to other people when you need time for yourself. 

    9. Put it in your calendar
    Your calendar is probably full of work meetings, doctor’s appointments, and deadlines, instead of workouts, meditations, or downtime. But when you write something on your calendar, that means you’ll prioritize it, show up on time, be prepared, and not skip (unless you reschedule in advance). Why should your self-care be any less important than work deadlines or appointments? Scheduling it into your calendar will not only make sure that you’re making time for it, but will remind you that self-care is just as important as other obligations. If you prefer to have a career-specific calendar, consider getting a planner just for self-care to schedule activities that will recharge your energy. 

    10. Ditch the practices that make you more stressed
    I’ll be honest: even for someone who is #extra with wellness, meditation has always stressed me out. It seems like every expert in the world preaches its benefits, but when I sit down and try to have a few minutes of meditative bliss, thoughts run through my head like I’m doing this wrong, and I can’t stop thinking about my to-do list. I would leave meditation sessions feeling more stressed than before. Yes, it is a practice that requires patience, but it didn’t make me feel at peace, relaxed, or zoned out. You know what does make me feel at peace, relaxed, and zoned out? Going for a walk, coloring, listening to Frank Sinatra, and yes, even watching Real Housewives.
    Maybe one day I’ll start up a love affair with meditation, but until then, I’m going to be doing whatever it is that actually brings me peace, relaxation, and happiness, whether wellness experts swear by it or not. The truth is that adding, doing, or trying all the things that are supposed to be good for us can sometimes just be FOMO disguised as health. With the start of a new year, reevaluate every way you’re spending your time, and get rid of the ones that aren’t truly serving you.

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    30 At-Home Workouts You Can Do on Your Lunch Break

    No matter how many times that I attempt to make a conscious effort to slow down and enjoy my food, my hanger always prevails as I continually find myself inhaling my meals. The one benefit to this fatal flaw of mine is that I have the *unique* ability to use my lunch break to accomplish more than just curbing my hunger with my favorite Trader Joe’s Mandarin Orange Chicken Bowl. Instead of sleepily scrolling TikTok as I digest, I use the remaining minutes of my lunch to move my body, even if it’s just for a few moments.For a long, long time, it was ingrained in my brain that my workouts “weren’t effective” unless I spent over an hour doing intense cardio or lifting heavy weights at a gym. After the past year of adapting to our new normal, I’ve found that keeping things short, simple, and consistent is more effective for me than pressuring myself to hit the gym multiple days a week for hours on end. More times than not, I don’t have the time, energy, or motivation to make my previous methods even the least bit successful.
    Incorporating movement into my WFH routine has been an absolute game-changer for me and helps me to get my mind right before I tackle the second half of my workday. Whether you find yourself with an extra 10, 20, or 30 minutes in your day, these quick, yet effective workouts are the perfect way to step away from the screen and get your blood pumping:

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    The Everygirl’s 28-Day Self-Love Challenge

    Ah, February: the month of red roses, limitless rom-coms, and heart-shaped boxes of chocolates. Maybe you’re a hopeless romantic and look forward to February 14 all year, or maybe Valentine’s Day typically feels sad, lonely, or disappointing. But celebrating love wouldn’t be complete if the #1 priority wasn’t how you love yourself.No matter what your relationship status says on Facebook, the most important relationship is the one you have with yourself. Yes, that might have been a cliché your mom told you growing up or what you read in The Care and Keeping Of You when you were 11 years old, but it’s also a powerful truth. How you feel about and talk to yourself determines the success of other relationships, and is a key component of physical health and mental health. How you love yourself literally impacts every aspect of your life, and therefore, learning to love yourself is the most important skill you could master. 
    Since February is the month of love, we’ve put together a challenge focusing on the most worthy kind of relationship: the one you have with yourself. For every day in February, you’ll be challenged to try journaling prompts and activities focusing on getting to know yourself, wooing yourself, caring for yourself, and prioritizing yourself. Follow the challenge, and you’ll have a whole new perspective on self-love by March 1. 
     

    1: Make a list of five things that always make you happy and put it on your mirror, desk, or fridge where you’ll see it often
    2: Buy yourself flowers
    3. Revisit a childhood hobby
    4. Go for a walk on your lunch break
    5. Make a playlist of all your favorite songs
    6. Unplug for three hours
    7: Journal prompt: Get to know yourself. Take some time to think about what you believe in, value, and like. Make a list of your strengths (particularly the ones that have gone unnoticed).

    Source: @lolaomonaija

    8: Say “no” if you want to say no
    9: Eat the rainbow by trying a variety of fruits and vegetables
    10: Splurge on the item you’ve been wanting
    11: Take yourself on a date or set the table with candles and a fancy table cloth
    13: Watch your favorite movie
    14: Journal prompt: look at a picture of yourself as a baby or young child. How would you talk differently to yourself if you were talking to her? What do you want to tell her?

    Source: @sassyredlipstick

    15. Identify your love language and then do one thing to show yourself love in that language
    16. Make a promise to yourself and then keep it (work out before work, make a smoothie for breakfast, take a real lunch break, cut off work at 5 p.m., etc.)
    17. Unfollow or mute every account that doesn’t make you feel inspired, encouraged, or good about yourself
    18. Sit in child’s pose for a minute whenever you’re stressed
    19. Dress up in your favorite outfit and put on your favorite lipstick
    20. Take some time to “play:” turn on music and dance or do something creative like coloring
    21: Journal prompt: write down past mistakes you’re still holding onto. Reflect on how you’ve changed since those past mistakes or embarrassing moments. Realize how even the worst moments have made you stronger, kinder, and better, and then forgive yourself. 

    Source: @kayla_seah

    22: Say “thank you” instead of “I’m sorry”
    23: Sneak leafy greens into sauces, dips, and dressings
    24: Write a list of the things you love most about yourself
    25: Start an inspirational book
    26: Treat yourself to a new vibrator or download an app like Coral (because sexual wellness is self-care)

    28: Journal prompt: How can you become more “you?” We love ourselves when our actions align with who we really are. Make a list of your qualities, likes, traits, strengths, and passions. Then, write down how you can become or more of each thing. Also, get rid of the activities or traits that don’t feel true to you, and fill up the empty space with more you-ness. Every work goal, wellness intention, and daily schedule should support becoming more of who you really are. More

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    17 One-Minute Habits That Will Change Your Life

    So you want to get healthier, achieve your career goals, and feel happier? Sounds nice, but it’s always easier said than done. Where do you even start making such major changes? If lofty goals and ambitious resolutions feel overwhelming, know that you don’t need to immediately rearrange your entire life, spend $$$, or have unlimited time to achieve your best life. In fact, you need just one minute. That’s right: the difference between who you are and who you want to be might be just 60 seconds. Try these one-minute habits that will transform your life when done consistently. Add in lots of habits throughout your day or start with just one, but either way, one minute is all you need to change your life.
    1. Get out of bed right away
    If I have one weakness (besides a good cheese plate *swoon*), it’s scrolling through Instagram after waking up. While it seems like a harmless habit, the body won’t fully wake up until you get out of bed and move around, but also because you lose the full 10, 30, or 60-minute morning routine before you open your laptop for work. Get out of bed as soon as you wake up and fill your mornings with as many peaceful, productive, and fulfilling minutes as possible. Your inbox, TikTok explore page, or iMessage app can wait.

    2. Breathe deeply
    Deep breathing (or diaphragmatic breathing) is crucial for mental and physical health, but many of us never focus on our breath. If you think about it, oxygen is the one thing we can’t even go minutes without, so making sure we’re getting more of it can only be beneficial. When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, take a few deep breaths to get more oxygen in the lungs and slow the heartbeat, which can help with anxiety. Try it right now (yes, I mean right now): slowly inhale, count to five, and then exhale, relaxing the entire body. It’s like instant medicine, right?

    3. Take movement breaks
    Whether an hour-long workout is a daily essential or you barely have time to change sweatpants before work starts, the body isn’t meant to sit for hours at a time, much less all day long. At least once every hour, take a minute to flow through yoga poses, do some stretches, or turn on your favorite song and dance. 60 seconds of movement is enough to energize the body, reset the mind, and will help you focus better for the rest of the day. Plus, if you don’t think you have time to work out, one-minute periods throughout the day add up.

    4. Add lemon to your water
    Squeezing a lemon into your go-to water bottle takes a couple of seconds, but can result in lasting benefits. Lemon packs nutrients like vitamin C, which plays an important role in the immune system and can boost skin glow. Stefanie Wilkerson, RDN, explained, “Vitamin C helps produce collagen and works as an antioxidant to neutralize free radicals that can damage our cells.” Hello supple, smooth skin! Bonus: while it is acidic, lemon has alkalizing effects in the body, meaning it might help balance pH levels. A squeeze of lemon basically turns a glass of water into a cocktail of super nutrients. As if you needed more convincing, adding delicious lemon will make you want to drink more water, and staying hydrated always comes with health perks. 

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    5. Mute negative social media accounts as they pop up
    In 2021, it’s high time to rethink whether the bloggers, celebrities, and brands we follow on social media make us feel inspired or bad about our lives. Want to feel instantly happier? If an account or post pops up on your feed that doesn’t leave you feeling inspired, happy, or confident, you know what to do: unfollow (or mute). That also means muting or unfollowing the frenemy you had in high school or your sorority sister’s ex-boyfriend’s cousin that you met a few times. Instead of watching other people live their lives, you can actually go live your own. Use social media to make you better instead of worse by replacing negative accounts with accounts that inspire you or bring you positivity whenever you’re tempted to scroll (like, IDK, @theeverygirl, for a totally random example).  

    6. Tidy up before bed
    That’s right: you only need 60 seconds of tidying up to make a major difference in your life. Whether it’s clearing the dirty laundry off the chair in your bedroom, organizing the bedside table, or wiping the kitchen counter, do a super quick decluttering or cleaning before hitting the hay. Not only can a cleaner environment help you sleep better, but you’ll wake up feeling stress-free and ready to start the day. That pile of dirty laundry on the bedroom chair really knows how to harsh one’s mellow (if you know, you know). 

    7. Express gratitude (out loud)
    You probably already know that gratitude is the secret to boosting mental health or fostering healthier relationships, so practice it beyond gratitude journaling in the morning. For example, whenever you say “thank you,” reflect on how grateful you feel, instead of just going through the motions. If your work wife offered to help with a big project, let her know how much you appreciate having her support, or if your roommate cleans your dishes, tell them how much it made a difference in your busy day. But it doesn’t have to (and shouldn’t be) just the times when you’d say “thank you” anyway. Text your mom out of the blue to say thanks for being there for you, or let your partner know how much you appreciate having them in your life. Express gratitude wherever and whenever you can, and watch how your life transforms. 

    8. Add a finishing touch to your OOTD that makes you feel confident 
    Whether you’re dressing up in business-casual, rocking a button-up and sweatpants (for Zoom meetings, of course), or never bother changing out of your pajamas to start the day (no shame), try adding one finishing touch that makes you feel like the badass you are. Depending on what makes you feel good, try a fitted pair of jeans, a swipe of mascara, or a trendy hair clip to add a little something to your OOTD. The goal isn’t to look better, it’s to feel better, so play around to find what small touches make you feel more confident, energized, or motivated. Never underestimate the power of a structured work blazer or swipe of red lipstick. 

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    9. Check your bank account
    Self-care doesn’t always mean bubble baths or face masks; sometimes, self-care means being an independent adult and doing what you can to feel in control of your finances. While having a detailed financial plan and setting goals can help you reduce money-related stress and achieve what you want out of life, feeling in control of your finances doesn’t always require a lot of time and energy. Every few days, take a minute to glance over your bank account and credit card statements. Getting in the habit of frequently checking can help identify fraud early-on, but will also give you a good idea of where you’re spending and where you can be saving.

    10. Use visualization
    Do you get nervous before a first date or big presentation? Do you ever lack motivation with health goals or feel stuck in your career? The fix to any negative thought could be as easy as visualizing an alternative. We get nervous, stuck, or unmotivated when we visualize the worst-case scenario: a bad date, a failed presentation, a boring job, or too-difficult workouts. So why not replace the thought with a more positive one?
    If you’re feeling nervous, imagine yourself acing the presentation or being your charming self on the date. When you lack motivation, visualize that you are the kind of person who prioritizes workouts and loves eating nourishing foods. And if you’re feeling stuck? Think about what you want the outcome to be, and then picture what that looks like. Visualization may be another name for imagination, but it can serve as the minor confidence boost you need to achieve the desired outcome.

    11. Make your bed
    I know I sound like your mom, but please make your bed. Not only will it feel good to get into a made bed at night, but it’s important for the success of your day. Making your bed first thing every morning means one small win before you even have a cup of coffee, which subconsciously will motivate you to achieve thousands of small wins throughout the day (and you know what they say about small wins: they lead up to big ones). Plus, Gretchen Rubin found in her research that it’s the easiest and most common daily habit you can do to boost happiness.

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    12. Fix your posture
    Bad news for all the other slouchers out there (guilty): your posture might be affecting your physical and mental health. Practice better posture by straightening your back and relaxing your shoulders (and stop looking down at your phone, damn it!). Did you sit up taller just now? Good. Improve your posture throughout the workday (yes, even while working from home) by setting reminders with phone alerts, sticky notes, or as your phone wallpaper to remind you to correct your posture whenever you check the time or read a text message.

    13. Set a mantra or intention
    Everyone has a mantra, whether we’re aware of it or not. It’s that one phrase you hear in your head over and over, or what you tell yourself repeatedly. Many of us are plagued by phrases like “I’m not good enough,” or “What if something goes wrong?” We hear these phrases in our heads so often that we believe them. So what if we could replace these thoughts with phrases that are not only better for us, but can help us be more confident, feel less stressed, and live our best lives? Every morning, pick a mantra or daily intention and write it in your daily planner so you don’t forget it. If you find one phrase you particularly relate to, repeat it to yourself whenever you’re feeling stressed, scared, or not enough.

    14. Apply a layer of SPF at the end of your skincare routine
    It’s easy to remember SPF when the sun is out, the temperature’s warm, and we’re spending all day outside. But in cold weather, or even when we’re spending all day indoors, it’s a little less obvious. To set the record straight once and for all, yes, you still need sunscreen when it’s cloudy outside and even when you’re indoors. Wearing a daily SPF is not only good for skin glow (prevents aging, hyperpigmentation caused by sun exposure, keeps an even complexion, etc.), but is crucial for your health. Click here to find the perfect sunscreen for your skin, and click here for non-toxic options. 

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    15. Add a handful of leafy greens to your meal
    Being healthier does not have to be a dramatic transformation. It’s actually more sustainable when it’s a gradual series of small habits. The best place to start achieving a healthier diet is not cutting out entire food groups or limiting what you “should” and “should not” eat (which can lead to bingeing or an unhealthy relationship with food). Instead, start transforming your health by adding a handful of leafy greens to your meal. For example, add spinach if you’re making an omelet, throw kale into a pasta sauce, or order a side salad when you’re eating out. Not only are leafy greens superfoods that pack a lot of benefits and are easy to fit into the meals you’re already used to, but small, non-restrictive tweaks can snowball into an overall healthier diet and lifestyle. 

    16. Set your alarm 60 seconds earlier 
    If your mornings feel more like a race against the clock than the peaceful start you imagine, the fix is waking up earlier. However, a full 30 minutes, or even 10 minutes, might seem like you’re missing out on too much sleep. Instead of trying to transform your wake-up time (which would just make you hit “snooze” a couple more times), set your alarm one minute earlier every day. While it sounds like a small change, after 10 days, you could have 10 extra minutes in your morning without even noticing it. Whether you spend that time meditating, indulging in a luxurious skincare routine, or just brewing a cup of coffee with a moment of silence, you won’t miss the 10 minutes of sleep.

    17. Master the art of listening
    Perhaps the #1 life hack and most life-changing habit? Listening. And I mean really listening. Caring about what other people have to say can transform your personal relationships and strengthen (or build more) professional relationships. Your communication will be more effective, and you’ll experience more meaningful connections. You’ll feel less self-conscious when you’re less focused on yourself, and less unsure when you look for answers outside yourself. Of course, utilize important cues like eye contact and follow-up questions, but the best way to listen? Genuinely get curious about what other people have to say. Empathy, understanding, and curiosity will not only transform your life, but will transform the world too. 

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    9 Sexy Must-Haves for a Cozy Night In with Your Significant Other

    For some couples (I call them the “unicorn couples”), staying at home together 24/7 with nothing to do means doing the nasty more than you did when you were first dating. But for most couples, staying at home means a lack of motivation, an abundance of takeout, and a disregard for basic hygiene. In other words, your sex drive (and overall intimacy in the relationship) has been on the lower side these days.But with chilly temperatures outside and a stay-at-home order still in effect, you’ve got nowhere to go. It’s the perfect time to reignite that spark with a little cozy night at home. Whether you’re newly dating or have been together for decades, consider this the comprehensive checklist of everything you need for the romantic night you deserve (BTW, the same rules apply if you’re indulging in a night of self-love too). Get in the mood, light a candle (more on that below), and have a romantic night in, thanks to these spark-igniting must-haves.

    1. The right scent
    Candles not only set a romantic ambiance thanks to dim lighting and flickering fire (there’s a reason the sex scenes in every rom-com include candles), but sensuality is about awakening each of the senses, and that includes smell. While some scents might be arousing based on a personal memory (like rose from the perfume you wore on your wedding night or vanilla from a lotion you used on your first trip away together), other scents might act as aphrodisiacs. Look for candles with spicy notes like cinnamon and sandalwood, luxurious scents like vanilla and ylang-ylang, or relaxing scents like lavender and sage. 

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    2. Bath (or shower) essentials
    Getting “in the mood” is not just about the 10-30 minutes leading up to sex; it’s about building the anticipation throughout the entire day. Set yourself up for feeling your best by indulging in some self-care in the bath or shower. Try dry brushing, exfoliating with bath salts or body scrubs, and massaging in an oil. Oh, and don’t forget to check yourself out in the mirror (confidence is the #1 best sex hack!). Plus, a relaxing bath or steamy shower can be part of the romantic night if you want to bring your significant other with you. After all, sex is self-care. 

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    3. Luxurious beauty products
    Speaking of confidence, how much pleasure you feel is not determined by how you look to your partner, but it can be determined by how you feel about yourself (your partner is going to think you’re smokin’, no matter what). Invest in products that make you feel good, whether it’s a full face of makeup, a brightening facial treatment, a spritz of perfume, or a texture spray to DIY bedhead. After all, beauty is not about what we think we have to do to look good; it’s about indulging in ourselves (because we’re worth it) and remembering how attractive we are (from the inside out). Get your glow on with the beauty products that make you feel your very best.

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    4. Music to set the mood
    It’s no surprise that music dictates the mood. How else would we know to feel hopeful and excited if the rom-com didn’t include Why Can’t I by Liz Phair, and would we even burst into tears if My Heart Will Go On didn’t play at the end of Titanic? Would Jaws be so scary without the daunting theme song, or would the rose ceremonies on The Bachelorette feel as dramatic without the suspenseful soundtrack? Music tells us how to feel, and that goes for getting in the mood too. Make a playlist of the songs that make you feel confident, sexy, and romantic, or turn on our “Get Sexy” playlist, filled with all the songs 13-year-old you were scandalized by (in the best way). 

    5. Lube
    At The Everygirl, we are big advocates for the fact that everyone (yes, everyone) should at least try lube. Our editor, Beth, even went so far as to say, “Personal lubricant is not a choice in my book; it is a necessary tool for sexual pleasure and health. Lube is the best sex toy you could ever add to the bedroom.” If that’s not convincing enough, I don’t know what is. Pick a lube that will not only increase pleasure, but will be good for your vagina, thanks to non-toxic ingredients, nourishing formulas, and treatment-like benefits. 

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    6. Something pretty to wear
    Disclaimer: if you feel your very best in your birthday suit, you go, girl. Feel free to skip this point and go on with your bad self. However, if wearing some pretty lingerie or wrapping yourself in a silky robe gets you in the mood, you deserve to treat yourself to something indulgent and luxe. If full-on lingerie isn’t your thing, even a pair of new underwear or a pajama set that makes you feel sexy can completely revamp your sex life (yes, really). After all, remember that your pleasure directly correlates to your confidence, and if a lacy bra helps you feel like the badass you are, it’s well worth any price tag.

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    7. An activity
    You may not think you need another activity than the activity, but experimenting with conversation-starters like a couple’s journal or question cards could not only break you out of your routine but could also help you learn new things about your partner and even inspire you to try new things (yes, even if you’ve been together ~forever~). Especially if communication in the bedroom is not your strong suit or if you’re still figuring out what you like and don’t like, prompted questions can be a fun, relaxing way to open up communication. 

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    8. Vibrator or sex toy
    If you feel stuck in a sex rut or have trouble orgasming with your partner (AKA 75 percent of women), the answer might be incorporating a vibrator or sex toy. Experimenting and trying new things is always important, but it’s also a good idea to have a go-to vibrator or sex toy that you both enjoy using (and that you also enjoy using alone). If you haven’t found a favorite or are interested in exploring, we have many helpful guides on vibrators and sex toys for partners (hint: there are lots of options). Bottom line: talk it out together, explore some options, and figure out what you would both like. 

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    9. Luxurious bedding
    Sex is better on vacation, right? Sure, maybe it’s thanks to the stress-free attitude, exciting new experiences, and the lack of kids/long to-do lists/daily chores you would normally have at home, but I also wouldn’t discount hotel bedding. Whether crisp pillows and clean sheets are turn-ons to you or not, upgrading your bedding can switch up your environment, and just a small change can make sex feel new. Some couples even switch out their bedding just for special occasions (a cozy night in counts as special), but you can also try a few simple upgrades like satin pillowcases, a linen duvet cover, or fur throw pillows.

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    What are your essentials for a romantic night in? More

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    I’m Focusing on Skincare Right Now—This is My Current Favorite Product

    Having all of this time on my hands has encouraged me to delve into new hobbies. I started bullet journaling—complete with fancy pens and highlighters. I started doing my own manicures. I took a leadership class on Skillshare. And I’ve gotten neck-deep in skincare.Now, listen: I know I say the same “I’m lazy about skincare” line in every story like this, and it’s true. But I’ve always enjoyed it, nonetheless. I like knowing about what can make our skin tick, from what products and ingredients to use for different skin concerns to what’s trending in dermatologist offices, Sephora, and more. I might be more of a makeup girl, but any and all beauty products give me the buzz of excitement most people can only dream of. All of this to say, my skincare habits have definitely changed within the last few months, not only to keep up with stress acne, but as self-care in the morning and at the end of a long day.
    While making my dream skincare routine (which yes, I did put in my previously-stated bullet journal) a few months ago, I wanted to add a higher-potency vitamin C product to my morning routine. I had been using one from Dr. Loretta to ease into it, but I was ready to try something that would tackle my hyperpigmentation and dullness with a little more vigor. Maelove’s hero product, The Glow Maker Serum, stood out to me immediately.

    If you’ve lusted after some of the most popular vitamin C serums (Skinceuticals C E Ferulic and Ole Henrikson Truth Serum, for example), they all have a few things in common: a high vitamin C content with the addition of vitamin E and Ferulic Acid. Oh, and they’re all expensive AF. Maelove’s formula? It has all of those buzzy ingredients with a price tag under $30. 

    I’ve been using it pretty much daily (laziness doesn’t just go away overnight, people) for two months now, and I see all the hype and more. There’s a reason this product goes in and out of stock constantly: it works. 
    Vitamin C, E, and Ferulic Acid are a common pair in skincare—but why? In a 2005 study from Duke University Medical Center, ferulic acid paired with 15 percent L-ascorbic acid (AKA vitamin C) and 1 percent alpha-tocopherol (a type of vitamin E) “improved chemical stability and doubled photoprotection.” Other studies, such as one from Mount Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Dermatology in 2007, suggest that vitamin C and E are “synergistic,” meaning they work best when put together. Basically, all of this science-jargon to say: there’s weight in using these ingredients together, and the Maelove serum combines it all right there for you. 
    My skin has broken out on and off since I started using it (thanks, Retin-A!), but my scars are fading much faster than usual. My skin also feels smoother and just overall clearer—I might have a few active zits, but my face has clarity and looks brighter. My morning skincare routine is pretty bare-bones, but I still feel like my skin is prepped and ready for makeup or to just look good on its own. 
    After cleansing in the morning, I pat Glow Maker on my skin with my fingertips. It has a really thin, liquid consistency that goes on easily. It does make my face quite tacky, but once I apply moisturizer, that goes away. I immediately wash my hands because the vitamin C stains your palms almost like a self-tanner would. Then, I go over it with a moisturizer and sunscreen, and I’m good for the day!
    As far as the scent, I don’t notice it and find it to be very mild on the spectrum of horrible-smelling vitamin C serums.

    How it looks on the skin with a little moisturizer—this product has hyaluronic acid as well, so it really plumps the skin and makes it look VERY glowy (hence, Glow Maker). 

    It’s rare for me to like every single thing about a product (I’m a little critical, what can I say), but I really have no complaints about this serum. I’ve been pining after the Skinceuticals since my dermatologist recommended it, but the $166 price tag just isn’t in my budget. This Maelove serum has a really similar ingredient list for a mere quarter of the price. With over 6,300 reviews (most of them five stars!), many say it works as well if not better than the one over five times the price. With free shipping and returns, I mean, you really can’t go wrong.  More

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    The 15 Best Books for Your New Year’s Resolutions

    Even though New Year’s resolutions look a little different this year, it’s still the season for self-invention. The beginning of January means making new promises to ourselves, letting go of the past year, and, most importantly, reflecting on what we want out of the year ahead. And the best way to keep resolutions (instead of letting them trickle out by January 28 like most years)? Go all-in by indulging in a good book that offers concrete advice to reach your goals and become your best self. So to help you make resolutions that will stick (because we all deserve a win in 2021), we’ve rounded up the best books that will give you a much-needed dose of inspiration, optimism, and motivation. Whether your 2021 resolution looks more like running a marathon or just getting off the couch every once in a while (no judgment), these books will help you get there. 

    Sallie Krawcheck
    Own It: The Power of Women at Work

    This bestseller is basically the #1 career playbook for 2021. No matter your industry or where you’re at in your career, “Own It” is a powerful manual for a new set of rules to achieve professional success. Read if: your resolutions are career-focused.

    Mallika Chopra
    Living with Intent: My Somewhat Messy Journey to Purpose, Peace, and Joy

    Because sometimes resolutions aren’t about changing your life; they’re about changing your mindset. Use this book as your go-to for finding purpose, joy, gratitude, and balance. Read if: you’re done thinking about what your life could be, and instead want to appreciate where you are now.

    Are You Fully Charged?: The 3 Keys to Energizing Your Work and Life

    Never feel like you have enough energy or time to accomplish all you want? Maybe your to-do list feels impossible to finish, or you give up on goals because you don’t have the time. Drawing on practical advice from the latest in business, psychology, and economics, this book proves you can accomplish everything you want. Read if: you feel like you’re always lacking time or energy.

    Laura Thomas, PhD
    Just Eat It: How Intuitive Eating Can Help You Get Your Shit Together Around Food

    Whether your nutrition resolution is to stop eating late-night pizza (right, like that’s going to happen!) or to get rid of outdated food rules, intuitive eating is the way to finally eat nourishing foods and achieve food freedom. “Just Eat It” is a life-changing read about trusting your appetite, listening to your body, and ditching diet culture once and for all. Read if: you’re sick of struggling with your relationship with food.

    Michelle Obama
    Becoming

    Because we would be remiss if we didn’t include our queen, Michelle Obama, on any list of life-changing books. “Becoming” is the inspirational memoir you’ve been looking for to motivate you to chase your dreams. Read if: you want to focus on New Year’s resolutions, but self-help books aren’t typically your thing.

    Barbara L. Fredrickson, PhD
    Love 2.0: Finding Happiness and Health in Moments of Connection

    This isn’t your average relationship book. Whether or not your resolutions have to do with your love life, Fredrickson argues that love is the secret to improving our physical and mental health. Oh, and FYI, she also argues that love is not about a romantic relationship (though it can be!). It’s about connection between all people, including strangers, coworkers, friends, and family members, so this book is for anyone (regardless of relationship status). Read if: you’re looking for a new perspective to change your health.

    BJ Fogg, PhD
    Tiny Habits: The Small Changes That Change Everything

    No matter how big your resolutions or goals are, the secret to achieving them is in small changes. Fogg breaks down how exactly to achieve anything you want by starting small. For example, try two push-ups a day instead of aiming for a 60-minute workout, or take a deep breath whenever you get in your car instead of starting with a full meditation practice. Read if: you have some lofty resolutions you’re not sure how to achieve.

    Maxie McCoy
    You’re Not Lost: An Inspired Action Plan for Finding Your Own Way

    With step-by-step advice, thoughtful exercises, and real-life stories from McCoy and other inspirational women, “You’re Not Lost” is an inspiring action plan to get the life you want (and deserve!). Read if: 2020 made you feel lost, hopeless, or confused in any area of your life.

    James Clear
    Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

    No matter your 2021 resolutions, “Atomic Habits” offers a proven framework for changing your life by forming good habits, breaking bad ones, and mastering small behaviors that lead to massive transformation. Learn how to overcome a lack of motivation or willpower, get back on track when you fall off course, and design your schedule for success. Read if: your New Year’s resolutions typically don’t last past January.

    Ann Shoket
    The Big Life

    Sometimes just a few key changes can help you achieve everything you want in your career, finances, love life, and overall wellbeing. Or, at least, that’s what trailblazing editor-in-chief of Seventeen, Ann Shoket, argues in her self-help book and memoir packed with actionable guidance to living your best life. Read if: your resolution is to find more meaning in your life.

    Lalah Delia
    Vibrate Higher Daily: Live Your Power

    Looking for inspiration to tap into your inner power and become your best self? Instagram superstar, Lalah Deliah, put her self-help wisdom into this comprehensive book that teaches us that we have control over situations and our emotions. “Vibrating Higher Daily” helps you make intentional day-to-day choices that lift you out of mindsets, habits, and lifestyles that don’t serve you. Read if: you’re over physical resolutions and ready to transform your soul instead.

    Dan Harris
    10% Happier

    Dan Harris experienced a nationally televised panic attack that acted as a wake-up call to prioritize mental health and make some major changes in his life. Follow Harris on his quest for happiness as he explores spiritual practices, studies scientific research, and explains his own experiences to help you get 10 percent happier (and maybe a lot more). Read if: anxiety or stress levels are affecting your life.

    Gabrielle Bernstein
    Super Attractor: Methods for Manifesting a Life beyond Your Wildest Dreams

    Filled with tangible tools like the “Choose Again Method” for reframing negative thoughts and boosting your mood, “Super Attractor” is a more spiritual approach with essential tips to live in alignment with the universe to create the life that you want. Forget resolutions–start attracting the life you want right now. Read if: your resolutions include getting more in touch with yourself. More