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    10 Date Ideas That Don’t Involve Drinking

    Abstaining from alcohol has become the new normal for many millennials and Gen Zers, with health and hangover-related issues key factors in cutting down. But with “going for a few drinks” a go-to first date choice, is it possible to enjoy playing the field if you’ve chosen a more teetotal lifestyle?
    Whether you’re cutting down on your cocktail intake, playing designated driver, or simply keeping dry-January going for a few months longer than planned, there’s no reason that your dating life should suffer. Try out a few of these date ideas for inspiration the next time that you and your Hinge match decide to go alcohol-free.

    1. Go out for dessert
    Going out for dinner on a first date can be slightly intense—if you don’t like your date, then there can be a lot of courses to get through. Instead, suggest grabbing dessert together for a low-pressure and no-alcohol chance to get to know your date better. After all, their choice between vanilla and mint chocolate chip might be a deal-breaker.

    2. Take a walk
    If you don’t feel like sitting across from someone for hours without a glass of wine to break the tension, then try a daytime date instead. A walk or hike is a good opportunity to chat with someone and to find out if they’re the active and outdoorsy type. If there’s ever an awkward silence then your surroundings should offer a good distraction, and there will be plenty of isolated spots for a quick smooch should the mood take you!

    3. Check out a comedy show
    I always balk at the idea of going to a movie theater or a show as an early date—after all, sitting in the dark in silence is hardly a great way of getting to know someone. As an alternative, a comedy show is a more interactive way of enjoying entertainment with your date, sharing interests, and having a fun evening together. There are usually plenty of breaks between performers to chat about your favorite jokes, and you could grab a (non-alcoholic) drink afterwards to get to know each other better. 

    4. Meet for a coffee
    OK, this one might be standard dating fare, but I’ve always been a big fan of a classic coffee date. It’s easy to fit into your day if you’re busy, low-pressure, and (most importantly) a chance to load up on caffeine. If you’re unsure about a suitor that you’ve swiped right on, then a quick coffee hour is an easy way to figure out any initial interest, and you can easily extend the date into something more substantial if you find yourself feeling loved-up over your latte.

    Source: Hasnain Babar | Unsplash

    5. Find a local food festival
    Whether you’re a foodie or otherwise, then checking out a food festival offers up a fantastic variety of things to do and see, alongside plenty of opportunities to sit and chat. If you live in a city or large town, then look out for local events and choose your favorite (I’m a big fan of anything cheese-related). Share dishes with your date for an ultimate romantic experience and a chance to sample even more culinary delights.

    6. Visit a museum
    Museums and art galleries are perfect for sparking interesting conversation, ideal for ensuring that you and your date have plenty to talk about. Better still, museums are an affordable first-date choice, with many encouraging donations rather than having a set entry fee, showing that original date ideas don’t always have to be costly. Take your date to see your favorite local artwork or explore a shared interest that you have to build a strong foundation for getting to know one another and finding common ground.

    7. Go for a dog walk
    If you and your date are both animal lovers, then bringing your pets along for a first date can be a perfect way to share your passion and see how your puppies interact. If you don’t have a dog yourself but would like a chance to help out pet-owners, then consider signing up for a dog-walking app. Dating aside, this can be a great solo hobby, and could be a fun thing to do in future with a dog-loving date.

    Source: Nate Johnston | Unsplash

    8. Share your favorite hobby
    Are you an avid rock-climber? An aspiring yogi? Someone who hits the driving range every weekend? Sharing one of your hobbies with a date is a perfect way to showcase your personality doing something that you love. Keep it fun and relaxed, and offer to let your date show you their favorite thing to do on a second date in exchange.

    9. Play mini-golf
    Bring out your competitive side by challenging your date to a few rounds of putt-putt. There are plenty of often extravagantly themed indoor venues popping up across the country, and although many serve alcohol, abstaining will mean that you can keep score and show off your swing.

    10. Go to an alcohol-free bar
    If you really do love going to a bar on a first date, then the good news is that the nightlife scene is catching up with the trend for going alcohol-free. Venues such as Sans Bar in Austin and Listen Bar in NYC serve up zero-proof offerings crafted by mixologists so that you can enjoy a cocktail whilst remaining booze-free. With new options opening regularly, it’s worth searching what’s on offer in your local area.

    25 Romantic Dinners to Make at Home This Weekend More

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    How to Actually “Detox,” According to Experts

    When you think about how to detox, what comes to mind? Is it the restrictive diet Gwyneth Paltrow swears by or an intense sauna session? Maybe it’s trendy juice cleanses that became mainstream in 2010 or the detox teas that promised you’d lose a whole pant size after a couple weeks (which, like, how on earth can that possibly be healthy?). There’s no doubt that wellness trends can be confusing AF, especially when the supplement industry is doing more marketing than being a helpful resource. There’s a lot of misinformation out there when it comes to detoxing the body. So, for the betterment of humanity and to prevent another woman from suffering through a juice cleanse, I wanted to set the record straight on what “detoxing” really is and how we do it. 

    In this article

    What does “detox” mean?
    We throw around the words “toxins” and “detox” when it comes to food, wellness routines, and beauty products, but what do they really mean? “Toxins are toxic molecules that can be ingested by the body through external sources,” explained Dr. Alejandro Junger, MD, an LA-based cardiologist, founder, and medical director of the Clean Program and best-selling author (also commonly known as “the father of detox”). “Outside toxins are all human-made chemicals: air pollution, chemicals in water or beauty products, medications, building materials in our houses, and mostly from processed foods or non-organic produce.”
    Before you quit your current life, move out to the country, and live totally toxin-free, rest-assured that your body has a solution. “Fortunately, a majority of these toxins can be converted and expelled, thanks to the ‘detoxification system’ in the body,” Dr. Junger said. There’s also what’s known as internal toxins, like excess cholesterol, bacteria, viruses, etc., that the body fights and removes internally. It turns out that we don’t need products, cleanses, and diets to help us detoxify. The body is a powerful detoxifying machine all on its own. 

    How does the body detoxify?
    Spoiler alert: a lot of ways. Many major systems in the body are part of the detoxification process. “The body detoxifies in a few ways: the liver and kidneys play the biggest roles, but the digestive tract and skin play important roles as well,” explained Dr. Chris Airey, MD, the medical director at Optimale and a practicing physician with the NHS. “The liver removes toxins and breaks them down so that the kidneys can pass them out. The kidneys filter out waste, the digestive tract passes harmful substances out of the body through bowel movements, and the skin detoxes through sweating.”
    “Your liver does the heavy lifting when it comes to detoxifying the body of substances it sees as waste or harmful,” agreed Dr. M. Kara, MD, a longtime doctor at The Cleveland Clinic and founder of KaraMD. “It does this by metabolizing these harmful substances into less harmful ‘metabolites’ that are then eliminated via the digestive tract (bowel movements), kidneys (urine), and skin (sweat).”
    If this is all getting a little too “biology class” for you and anatomy is not your thing, the bottom line is that a healthy body is built to identify, process, and eliminate substances that are either unnecessary or harmful all on its own (no juice cleanse required). 
    Though the liver, digestive tract, kidneys, and skin are known as the MVPs in detoxification, the body gets rid of toxins in many other ways too. Dr. Junger cited the way we breathe as a form of detox as well: We breathe out CO2, which is a toxic waste product. Even with something as mindless and simple as breathing, the body knows to breathe in something useful and good for the body (oxygen) and breathe out the bad (CO2). 

    When do toxins become harmful?
    I know what you’re thinking: If the body gets rid of all the bad stuff on its own, why do we need to be aware of consuming toxins? Does that mean that clean beauty is a scam or that we can eat Taco Bell for every meal without consequences? The answer: obviously not.
    Yes, the body has an amazing detoxification system, but there’s only so much it can detox. Think of your body like a river: If a branch or boulder fall into the river, it’s no big deal. The flow of the river pushes the branch or boulder and carries it out to sea, right? But if there’s an overflow of branches and boulders, the river can no longer push through, and it creates a dam. Toxins are like branches and boulders: Your body is made to detoxify, but if there’s an overexposure, the body cannot work fast enough to get rid of them all. Plus, the liver, digestive system, and kidneys need some TLC in order to do their job. You know your body works best when you treat it well, and that goes for the detoxification system too. 

    Ways to assist the body’s natural detoxification process

    1. Get enough sleep
    As if you needed another reason to turn your phone on “Do Not Disturb” and get to bed early tonight. “Sleep gives the body a chance to essentially reset itself,” Dr. Kara said. “By having the opportunity to slow down and refresh, the body can eliminate any toxic waste that has built up during the day.” That’s right, there’s more purpose to precious shut-eye than dreaming about Regé-Jean Page. When you’re not spending energy on digesting food, moving around, or focusing on work tasks, the energy in your body can go into detoxifying. Make sure you’re getting a full 7-9 hours of deep, restful sleep to keep your body working its best. 

    2. Be aware of what you eat
    You knew this was coming. Yes, what you eat matters. Not only do processed foods contribute to the toxins put into your body, but foods that are good for you are also good for keeping the organs in the detoxification system healthy. For example, the digestive tract eliminates through bowel movements, but it needs fiber in order to make consistent bowel movements. Dr. Kara suggested limiting excess sugar or processed foods and eating antioxidant-rich foods (fruits and veggies!) and foods high in fiber. Also, shop organic whenever you can. “By purchasing organic foods, you can avoid many herbicides, pesticides, and other hormones that contribute to toxic waste,” he said.
    “Plants are filled with nutrients that are used by the liver to make enzymes that help it detox,” agreed Dr. Junger. “The more species of plants you eat in a variety of colors, the more chances you will have of getting these nutrients as well as feeding the good bacteria that do 30-40 percent of the work of detoxification needed.”

    3. Drink more water
    You already know that drinking water is the secret to great skin thanks to Gabrielle Union, but it’s also a key player in detoxification. “Drink more water and stay hydrated, as water helps the kidneys flush out toxins more easily,” Dr. Airey suggested. One of the major ways we get rid of those toxins is through—you guessed it—our urine. So not only does hydration assist the kidney’s flush of toxins, but it also makes you urine more frequently, meaning you’re eliminating more toxins (so I guess it’s not a badge of honor that you can hold it through a six-hour flight?). Forget detox teas, powders, or juices. All you need is good ol’ fashioned water to help the body get rid of what it needs to. 
    4. Exercise
    Exercise can help you get stronger, improve heart health, and even boost mood, so it’s no surprise that the one-stop-shop for optimal health is also good for getting rid of toxins. Dr. Airey explained that exercise promotes lymphatic circulation and sweat, both of which are crucial to the body’s detoxification process. The lymphatic system is another important part of the body’s detoxification, and one of the ways to move “waste” to the lymph nodes is through moving and working the muscles. Plus, sweat not only expends electrolytes and water, it also rids the body of toxins. BRB, going to sign up for hot yoga! 

    5. Reduce your exposure to toxins
    Besides just helping your body be healthy overall so it can work optimally, you can also make some changes to avoid exposure to toxins to reduce the amount of detoxification the body has to do on a regular basis. Many toxins are unavoidable (especially in our modern world), but be aware of where you can make simple swaps or changes that are not only better because they reduce your body’s exposure to toxins but are also better for the planet. “The simplest way to assist the body’s detox system is to reduce exposure,” Dr. Junger recommended. “Filter your water, filter your air at home, and spend time in nature breathing fresh air. Use green materials when building your home and use non-toxic/clean cosmetics, toiletries, and laundry products.” Think of these little updates as your way of telling your body, “Thanks for all you do, and I got your back!” 

    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.

    How to Detox Your Sleep Routine More

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    How I Found My Passion as an Adult (And Why It’s So Important)

    As a kid, I had a pretty big imagination. Whether it was baking treats to give all my neighbors (there were only four houses on my street), using a yellow raincoat and a “detective kit” to pretend I was a spy, or making up dances in my living room, I was always up to something. Like all kids, I was so excited for each new idea and put my all into it. I got lost in these moments of make-believe, never thinking about what time it was, what was for dinner, or where a paycheck was coming from. Childhood was so easy, wasn’t it?
    This inadvertent pursuance of passion we have as children typically dwindles as we get older. By the time I was in college, that zest for activities, creation, and hobbies faded (unless you count a zest for beer pong), and my energy shifted to spending time with my friends and going out on weekends. But then I graduated and something shifted. I watched my friends get new jobs, promotions, experiences, and relationships. It felt like the world was moving around me, and I was standing still.
    I couldn’t figure out why I didn’t have any desire or motivation to move forward; I just felt bored. Then I had a major ah-ha moment: I wasn’t doing anything exciting. I wasn’t passionate about my job and was still only focused on what my friends were doing on weekends. How could I expect to be excited when I wasn’t doing anything? Work, gym, dinner, sleep. Repeat. Many of us go through our days lacking passion, which, for a lack of a better word…sucks. We go through one day, three days, or entire weeks without doing something that lights our fire and lifts our energy. 

    Source: @aspynovard

    By pursuing and practicing your passions, even on the smallest scale, you allow yourself to go deeper into something new. You awaken your senses, stimulate your brain, and make yourself happier. It’s true: passionate people are happy people, and people like to be around happy people. Think about someone you know who is passionate. Chances are you’re drawn to their energy and sometimes even wonder what it is about them that makes people love them. So once I realized that the missing link from my life was passion, I decided it was time to start practicing and reclaim my sense of wonder. Read on to find out what I did to find (and practice) it. 

    By pursuing and practicing your passions even on the smallest scale, you allow yourself to go deeper into something new.

    I asked myself questions
    If you’re not sure what you are passionate about, asking questions can help you identify. Ask yourself questions like: When do I forget to look at my phone? What were things I loved to do as a kid? What feels like active meditation? What lights me up? What would I do if money didn’t matter? Checking in with yourself can also help you steer away from moving towards what you think you “should” be passionate about. For example, I don’t love politics, can’t get into fashion, and don’t have a strong love for design. Don’t get me wrong: I want to be informed, look good, and have a beautiful home, but those aren’t the hobbies that make me excited or feel like time passes quickly. Looking at my answers, many came from those childhood memories, so I thought about how they could fit into my adult life.

    Source: @apairandaspare

    I took small actions based on these answers
    Once I realized I had some ideas that would “light me up,” I started to take small steps to do more of them. For example, I started cooking more meals at home, read food blogs, and went out to new restaurants (I always did love baking treats for my neighbors as a kid!). Beyond just hobbies, I got coffee with a woman who owned a cafe to learn what she does and what her career looks like. Looking into my other answers, I made some plans and took more actions as well, including planning my first European vacation since high school, working out more, volunteering, and going to museums (even if I was alone). 

    I let the passions evolve
    Life is always evolving, and so are our interests. While we can find a lot of parallels between what we were interested in as children and what we’re passionate now, that doesn’t mean that our passions won’t change. We might love things at certain times of our lives that we get tired of or don’t like as much years later. I don’t like baking treats for my entire NYC apartment building (for obvious reasons), and that’s OK: I’ve found new ways to pursue the same passion. If you look at the actual things you love to do as a guide to finding your passion “themes,” you’ll notice they can evolve into some pretty awesome moments, opportunities, or even a career you didn’t know existed.

    Source: @veggiekins

    I set a goal for at least one “passionate” activity a day
    Even in our adult lives where bills have to be paid and chores have to get done, you can (and should) still wake up feeling excited to get out of bed because you’re doing at least one thing every day that you look forward to. It can just be one thing (no matter how small) that makes you forget Instagram exists, or that fills you up so much you’re energized all day long. Taking action to discover, practice, and evolve your passions isn’t easy. It takes time, energy, and openness to new things, as well as a whole lotta love for yourself. It often required me to get really vulnerable and do things alone (P.S. now, I actually love doing things by myself). The most reassuring thing that I’ve discovered through prioritizing my passion is that the more I put it out there, the more amazing things, opportunity, and people come back to me.

    21 Hobbies You Can Start at Home—Today More

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    Looking for Better Sleep? This Super Ingredient Might Be the Answer

    So you work out, eat your veggies, and have a meditation practice, but your sleep is not so great? Join the club. Not to fret, exhausted readers: CBD for sleep is changing the game. We love CBD for everything from period cramps to sore muscles, but the plant-derived ingredient might also be the secret to getting good quality Zzz’s. According to the American Sleep Apnea Association, 70 percent of adults don’t get enough sleep. If you work long hours, are balancing a busy life, and/or know what it feels like when a new season of You comes out on Netflix, this statistic probably does not surprise you. Besides those late-night bedtimes and early-morning alarms, many people suffer from insomnia, difficulty staying asleep, or that growing to-do list in your mind keeping you awake. There’s no doubt that lack of sleep is an epidemic. So could this trendy ingredient be the solution?

    How does CBD benefit sleep?
    You might have seen CBD in your skincare and lattes, but it turns out that one of the most common ways CBD is used is to improve sleep and decrease anxiety. So is there any truth to it? A 2019 study found that 66.7 percent of test subjects reported better sleep after a month of taking 25mg of CBD. Another study from 2014 found that CBD can improve the symptoms of certain sleep disorders, while yet another study found that CBD might be beneficial for both sleep disorders and drowsiness during the day. While the studies on CBD are fairly new and more research needs to be done, the research so far is looking promising. “CBD has been shown to improve sleep quality and quantity in small, randomized controlled trials, but more research is needed,” said Dr. Jaime Corroon, founder and medical Director of the Center for Medical Cannabis Education and a medical advisor at CV Sciences.
    As for why CBD affects sleep, it might be because CBD tackles one of the most common causes of sleep problems: stress. “Research suggests that CBD may target certain receptors in the brain and central nervous system, which can assist in altering levels of serotonin, which is a neurotransmitter that plays an important part in your mental health,” explained Katherine Hall, a sleep psychologist and sleep coach at Somnus Therapy. 
    Research aside, I can personally attest that I get the best sleep of my life after a few drops of CBD oil. As with any supplement or change in routine, consult your doctor, be your own guinea pig, and do your research because every body is different and needs different things.

    Source: Burst | Pexels

    Equilibria CBD
    Because the supplement industry is widely unregulated, it’s important to select a brand of CBD that you trust. If you haven’t heard already, we love Equilibria because their premium CBD is fully traceable and made with industrial hemp flowers from their 1,100-acre partner farm in Colorado (we stan transparency when it comes to supplements!). It’s always organically grown, without GMOs, heavy-metals, and pesticides. It’s basically like the farm-to-table version of CBD. Bottom line: If you do want to try CBD, it’s well worth the time and effort to do your research and invest in a brand you know you can trust. 

    Our Favorite Products
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    Daily Drops
    Intended for fast-acting results, these drops not only work as a pre-bedtime ritual, but can also be used during the day to promote focus and ease stress. Best for: wellness nerds who like to DIY superfood lattes (pro tip: the mint flavor makes your coffee taste like a peppermint mocha!).

    Relief Balm
    The tiger balm you used to apply on sore muscles just got a major upgrade. The Relief Balm absorbs into the skin and you can literally feel it working (trust me, it’s refreshing AF). Best for: relieving aches, pains, and tension that’s holding you back from a good night’s sleep.

    Daily Soft Gels
    If you struggle with insomnia more than stress or discomfort, the Daily Soft Gels are your best bet. They’re slow-releasing for a longterm approach for even longer lasting effects. Take before bed for a few weeks and you’ll start noticing a major difference in your sleep game. Best for: preventative care and major results overtime.

    Dynamic Roller Duo
    Peek inside any Everygirl editor’s bedside table, and the chances of finding the Calming Roller are extremely high. With a mixture of essential oils like lavender, bergamot, and rosewood, the formula uses aromatherapy with CBD to ease tension and promote stress relief. Roll on temples or wrists while winding down for the night. Best for: the girl on-the-go who wants a quick de-stressing boost before bed.

    Balance Bath Bombs
    Love a good bubble bath in the evenings? Same. These bath bombs put yours to shame (sorry!), thanks to 50mg of full-spectrum CBD and relaxing essential oils. Best for: the self-care guru who considers baths a key part of her nighttime routine.

    Mindful Mineral Soak
    Because CBD can be absorbed through pores instead of just orally, the Mineral Bath Soak (made with Mediterranean and Dead Sea salt, #fancy) promises to totally relax the body, thanks to a blend of scents, CBD, and 30+ minerals. Best for: adding a little extra luxury to bedtime.

    Daily Treatment Oil
    Personally, I swear the scent of this oil alone gets me to relax, but the 500mg of CBD and nutrient-rich botanicals certainly don’t hurt either. Massage onto the face or body before bed to relax at night and wake up with soft, glowing skin. Best for: the skincare guru who wants to relax while beautifying overnight.

    5 Easy Ways to Get Better Sleep Tonight

    This post is sponsored by Equilibria, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    7 Easy Hacks to De-Stress Throughout the Work Day

    With enduring packed work weeks, finding time to be social, caring for our bodies, and making room for rest, staying on top of it all can be a full-time job. Between the demands of careers and our lives outside of them, we’ll admit: We’re freakin’ stressed. While stress is an inevitable part of life, managing stress is key in keeping us healthy and ready to take on new challenges.
    Sure, taking a two-week vacation in the Cayman Islands to avoid all of our responsibilities sounds like a sufficient solution, but in reality, finding more practical options to deal with our day-to-day stressors is what will truly set us up for success. If “I’m stressed” has crossed your mind at all today or this week, we’ve got you covered. Here are seven easy hacks to de-stress throughout the workday so that you can show up as your best, most efficient self (no plane, train, or automobile required):

    1. Take a 10-minute class on a work break
    Exercise in any form can have a huge impact on stress levels, and thankfully, you don’t need an hour-long class or a fancy gym to make it happen. Even taking 10 minutes out of your day between tasks or meetings to get your body moving, blood flowing, and endorphins pumping can help you get away from your computer, de-stress, and refresh.
    Obé Fitness is one of our favorite hacks to getting a solid workout in at home, trying out new forms of exercise, and making time to prioritize our bodies. Obé has a ton of 10-minute classes that help us get moving when we’d otherwise be taking a sedentary “break” (read: being horizontal and scrolling social media). With cardio boxing, dance HIIT, barre, and pilates, Obé is the perfect solution to keeping movement fresh, fun, and at your fingertips on your busiest days.
    Use code TEG50 for a 7-day free trial + 50% off your first month of Obé!

    2. Make a plan
    Having a plan can be crucial when it comes to managing stress levels on a busy day. Take a step back from haphazardly jumping from task to task and look at the big picture of what needs to be done today, tomorrow, and this week. You might do better when you prioritize your easiest tasks first to warm up and gain confidence, or you might start with your hardest tasks first to align with your energy levels. Maybe you prefer to batch similar tasks so that you can avoid wasting the time involved with switching gears. Whatever the best plan is for you, having one can help you work more efficiently and better manage your time and energy.

    3. Meditate
    One of the best ways to recenter, refocus, and decrease stress levels is to meditate. If you’re not into meditating, it might not be on the top of your “ways to de-stress” list, but hear us out: Meditating is a game-changer when it comes to managing stress throughout your workday. Despite what may be popular belief, meditation is not about turning your brain off. It’s about tuning into your thoughts, feelings, and body to gain perspective. Practicing meditation can help you focus your attention, address stressors, and free your mind of the distractions that may bring you anxiety. If you’re a beginner (or a skeptic), consider adding meditation to your daily routine to help you de-stress throughout the day.

    Source: Colorjoy Stock

    4. Declutter your workspace
    We don’t know about you, but when our work area is a mess, we feel like a mess. A clean workspace can be beneficial to your mental health, while a cluttered workspace can have negative effects on your stress levels and ability to focus. Taking five minutes to tidy up your desk, declutter your work bag, and close the 48 open tabs on your computer can streamline your workflow and help you direct your attention where it’s most needed. 

    5. Listen to mood-boosting music
    Here at The Everygirl, we love a good mood-boosting playlist for more than just an unexpected solo performance or dance party (though we do encourage mid-day choreography sessions and/or breaking out into song whenever your heart desires). Music is a powerful tool that can have a profound effect on our ability to relax, concentrate, and even boost our mood. Whether you’re looking to zone in and increase focus or to improve your mood throughout the day, there’s a playlist out there with your name on it to help make your workday infinitely better.

    6. Go for a quick walk down the street
    When you’re feeling bogged down and overwhelmed by tasks, focus on getting your steps in. Not only does walking promote the release of endorphins to stimulate relaxation and improve mood, but it also gives you the opportunity to physically remove yourself from certain stressors. Walking has many benefits for the body and also the mind. Whether you prefer a leisurely stroll or a brisk walk, you’ll be able to return to your work with mental sharpness and an improved mood. Sign us up!

    7. Connect with a friend or coworker
    Call it comedic relief, venting, or the beauty of human connection, but nothing helps us de-stress quite like taking a minute to talk with our work friends, best friends, significant others, or family members. Besides the fact that we enjoy the people we surround ourselves with, there’s science behind it: When we connect with people we love, the brain releases the hormone oxytocin, which can help reduce stress levels by affecting cortisol levels (the stress hormone). If that’s not a case for catching up with your bestie, we don’t know what is.

    6 Techniques to Reduce Stress That My Therapist Taught Me

    This post contains a sponsored inclusion of obé, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    Anxious about the Reopening? Same. I Asked Experts How to Cope

    In 2019, I considered myself to be a social person (pre-pandemic and pre-reopening): I’m a decent conversationalist, never had a Taco Tuesday that I didn’t like, and tended to gravitate toward the people I didn’t know at a party. When I got vaccinated and restaurants started opening back up at the beginning of the summer, I thought I was ready to dive all in, see people I hadn’t seen in over a year, and even make new friends. Spoiler alert: I was wrong. 
    Instead of the pre-2020 excitement I felt before going to a large social gathering or meeting someone new, dread set in. Questions like, “What do I do if the conversation lulls?”, “What if I’m awkward?”, and (the worst of them all) “What if I’m still not safe, even with the vaccine?” plagued the nights out where I used to only worry about what to wear or if my mascara would smudge. The truth is that we’ve been at home with only our quarantine crew and Uber Eats drivers to keep us company, and a lot of those “fun” things (like crowded bars or concerts) became situations that put us in danger. Of course, there’s going to be some adjusting. 

    “Feeling anxious about reopening is quite common,” explained Dr. Tyson Lippe, MD, a psychiatrist at Heading Health in Austin, Texas. “A lot of our fear in returning to pre-pandemic functions, like the office and engaging in social events, stems from uncertainty. It is unclear who is vaccinated, what precautions will be implemented, and what the new social norms are.” Basically, even the most social of butterflies are way out of practice. Add on stress about safety and dangerous new strains, and it’s no wonder so many of us are feeling stressed RN. So I did what any wellness editor would do and asked experts for their best tips to cope if reopening and getting back to “normal” isn’t as easy as we thought. 
    Just as a brief disclaimer: We always recommend seeking help. Whether that’s leaning on your best friend, finding a therapist near you, or joining a community for your mental health, it’s always important to prioritize how you feel, especially when going through a tough time. Find a therapist you love, come up with a game plan, prioritize self-care over anything else, and try out these seven tips from experts on how to cope with getting back to “normal.”

    Recognize how you feel
    It may sound basic, but the first step is identifying and acknowledging the way you feel. Maybe you haven’t historically been anxious in social settings or maybe you didn’t know our lack of normalcy throughout 2020 and 2021 affected you as much as it did. Once you recognize what you’re feeling, you can make a plan. “The first step is to recognize that you’re feeling anxious,” Dr. Lippe said. “Pay attention to your emotional state as well as any physical manifestations.” For example, does your stomach get queasy when thinking about going back to the office or does your heart start pounding when you enter a crowded restaurant?
    Keeping track of how and what you feel will help identify certain triggers. “Is it a particular place, group of friends, type of setting, etc., that’s making you feel anxious?” asked Merissa Goolsarran, LCSW, a licensed therapist who specializes in anxiety treatment. “Keeping a log of situations where you might experience anxiousness is helpful in determining if a pattern is present.” 

    Appreciate those feelings (yes, even the negative ones)
    I get it. Any negative emotion, whether it’s stress, worry, annoyance, frustration, or sadness, can feel so uncomfortable that we actually get mad at the feeling. But take it from someone who has been in a toxic relationship with anxiety for years: Thinking “why me?” or “I just need to get over this already!” makes it worse. “We have to give ourselves time to be programmed back in the other direction,” said Dr. Emily Stone, PhD, LMFT-S, a professor and licensed marriage and family therapist. “Of course we are going to experience anxiety returning to work and other pre-COVID activities: We have been telling ourselves that these situations are dangerous.” 
    Any extra worry or stress may be annoying, but it’s not irrational. In the big picture, “negative” feelings can actually keep us safe. Feelings of anxiousness and fear are biologically useful—the mind reacts to help us avoid danger so we survive (that’s where “fight-or-flight” comes from). After all, emotional reactions like fear, worry, or empathy are what drove us to make safe decisions during the pandemic in the first place. Appreciate the purpose of that extra stress and worry, and then remind yourself that you aren’t in any immediate danger like the fight-or-flight response tells us, and those feelings aren’t serving a purpose anymore.

    Have a mini escape plan
    If you anticipate that your first day back at the office or a larger social gathering might garner some overall overwhelm, have a game plan to help ease discomfort during each situation. “There are several useful techniques to keep you calm when faced with anxiety-provoking situations,” suggested Dr. Mimi Winsberg, a board-certified psychiatrist and the chief medical officer at Brightside. “Try self-talk, breathing exercises, or even rehearsing worst-case scenarios to realize they are not that bad.” Planning ahead is crucial when easing into uncomfortable situations you’re not used to. For example, mentally repeat an affirmation when you start feeling a little overwhelmed at the office, make a list of topics in your head for when there’s a lull in a conversation, or have a back up plan if the restaurant feels a little too crowded for your comfort level (takeout and wine nights are still fun!). 

    Say “no”
    Just because everything is opening back up does not mean you have to totally open back up. In other words, just because you’re happy that concerts, office happy hours, dinner parties, and restaurants are coming back in full swing does not mean you have to do it all. “Go at your own pace,” advised Jenny Okolo, an occupational therapist from London. “While it may be tempting to say yes to everything, do so at your own pace until you feel more comfortable as your confidence returns.” Also, it’s OK if your comfort level looks different from your friends, significant other, or coworkers. “You’ll probably have different standards or a different ‘normal’ than others,” Goolsarran agreed. “It’s helpful to communicate what you’re comfortable with so that you don’t get stuck in an uncomfortable situation.” Let friends know that you’re sticking to small groups or invite your work friend to meet up at a coffee shop with outdoor seating.

    Get into your body
    Whether it’s a day at the office or a night out, if you anticipate any uncomfortable feelings coming on, try a ritual that will help you calm down before heading out the door. “Think of something simple that leaves you feeling more confident, like exercise or meditation,” suggested Teri Schroeder, a licensed clinical social worker and co-founder of Just Mind Counseling. “For many people, focusing on the body before a challenging event can help reduce stress and clear the mind.” Dr. Winsberg agreed, explaining that she often recommends her clients try jumping jacks or even singing out loud prior to social situations to loosen up and let out anxious feelings. Sometimes the secret to calming the mind is as simple as putting energy into the body. 

    Start small 
    Even if you frequented clubs, concerts, and crowds all the time pre-2020, there are many “muscles” you haven’t worked in over a year. That’s right: Feeling social can be like a muscle and requires work to keep it healthy. “Too much too soon may feel overwhelming right now: start small and try to exercise that social muscle again. Resume social life with your inner circle, and gradually expand outward,” Dr. Winsberg suggested. “It may feel most comfortable to first interact with one or two other people who are vaccinated in an outdoor setting,” Dr. Lippe agreed. “As you begin to acclimate [and the CDC guidelines say so], you can move toward larger groups or indoor environments.” Just like biceps or glutes, it may take some time to warm up that social muscle and to identify what will make it fatigue too quickly. Identify what feels doable and enjoyable, and then limit what might be too much, knowing you’ll work your way there.

    Adjust your routines
    So you’re still in the habit of sleeping in until two minutes before the workday starts, staying in pajamas, and then eating Postmates for dinner in front of the TV? No shame in your quarantine game, but we can all agree that our routines are very different from the days working out at 7 a.m. or putting on a full OOTD before commuting, and then running errands or heading to happy hour after 5 p.m. (how did we do it all?). If your routines are the same when you were staying at home, of course, any difference will feel overwhelming. Even if you’re not ready to go back to the office or fill up your social calendar, start adjusting your routines.
    Roxanne Francis, MSW, RSW, a psychotherapist and owner of Francis Psychotherapy & Consulting Services, recommended structuring your day as if you were going into the office (even if you’re still working from your couch): get up earlier, get dressed as if you were going to work, and treat your WFH space as if it was your actual office (no more empty candy wrappers or dirty dishes). Also, if you’re Zooming with friends after work, put on jeans (pause for shock), take a walk around the block beforehand, or just do a quick makeup routine to start feeling that normalcy come back.
    *These tips are meant to be used as inspiration for coping with stress or anxious feelings, not as a treatment for anxiety. Anxiety can feel isolating, but you shouldn’t have to feel as though you’re going through it alone. Please reach out to your doctor, a therapist, or another trusted professional for support.
    If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts or actions, please get help immediately. 
    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
    Crisis Textline: text CONNECT to 741741

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    Matcha Is Not Just a Trend: Here’s What You Should Know About It

    Move aside, espresso! Whether matcha is a new ingredient you spotted at Starbucks or a longtime staple in your household, this superfood packs some serious benefits that many Everygirl editors have experienced for themselves. FYI, matcha isn’t just a trendy caffeine craze taking over coffee shop menus and health food store shelves; it has roots in ancient Chinese and Japanese history. The powerful powdered tea is said to have originated in China (over 4,000 years ago!) before making its way to Japan and becoming a key part of tea ceremonies for thousands of years. With a history like that, you know it’s gotta have the health benefits to back it up.

    In this article

    What is matcha?
    “Matcha has been an all-star for centuries and was traditionally used in Chinese medicine,” explained Shizu Okusa, founder of Apothékary, a brand of plant-based medicine supplements based in Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Japanese Kampo Medicine. “Matcha is made from green tea leaves that are grown in the shade to avoid direct sunlight. This process increases the content of nutrients, including amino acids and antioxidants, and is rich in chlorophyll.” In other words, it’s a powdered, more concentrated version of the green tea you’d find as loose leaf or in a tea bag, giving it a bright green hue, earthy taste, and high levels of antioxidants. 

    What are the benefits?
    “Matcha is known for boosting the metabolism, sharpening cognitive function, and basically keeping you on your A-game,” Okusa said. Yes, matcha is known as a coffee alternative because it contains caffeine, but the effects are very different. According to U.S. News & World Report, matcha gives you a calmer, more sustained energy, whereas coffee can make you feel jittery or leave you with that dreaded caffeine crash. Every body is different, so it’s important to experiment for yourself, but if you’re experiencing negative symptoms from coffee, like energy crashes or trouble sleeping, matcha might be a good alternative. 
    Beyond the caffeine, matcha itself is a powerful health food. It contains a high amount of antioxidants (one study found the number of antioxidants in matcha is up to 137 times greater than in other types of green tea. That’s a lot of antioxidants!), can help boost brain health, and may help promote heart health. Traditionally, matcha was seen as having energetic benefits as well. “This powerful superfood contains both Yin and Yang aspects by increasing energy while promoting calmness,” Okusa explained. 

    How to DIY Your Own Matcha at Home
    Matcha is a simple ingredient to incorporate at home, and even DIYing a frothy matcha latte is just as doable as brewing a cup of coffee. The traditional method is to put matcha and hot water in a tea bowl and whisk with a bamboo whisk, called “temae” (or a procedure for making tea). Also, be aware that matcha has not only been used for health benefits or as a delicious morning beverage, it also has important ceremonial ties. A tea ceremony is a Japanese ritual based on principles like hospitality, minimalism, and simplicity. To honor the tradition (and reap the benefits), view making and drinking matcha as an opportunity to take a pause from busy life rather than just a quick caffeine fix. Try a few minutes of meditation while drinking or share a cup of matcha with a friend. 
    If you prefer something a little frothier or sweeter, try adding your favorite latte sweetener, like honey or stevia, and whatever milk or creamer you prefer after whisking the hot water and Matcha powder together. Think of the whisking process like your machine making coffee or espresso. You have to fully blend your coffee before adding milk or sweetener, right? The same goes for matcha. Whisk with less hot water if you want to add more creamer to make a latte (think: similar to an espresso shot). Alternatively, whisk with more hot water if you want a thinner consistency. Pro tip: Matcha also works in baked goods too. 

    Try it:

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    5 Things My Therapist Taught Me About Self-Love

    If we’re being honest (and slightly egotistical), one of my best talents is self-love. That’s not to say that I don’t have days where I’m unhappy looking in the mirror or that I second-guess a lot of choices I make (trust me, I have my days). But I also really love myself. It’s weird (and sad) how hard that is to admit out loud (self-deprecation is so much more the norm), but I think part of self-love is expressing it so that other people can feel comfortable expressing their self-love too (we’re all in this together!). 
    However, “self-love” hasn’t always been on my list of achievements. The pre-teen age brought puberty and the idea that my body isn’t good enough as is, and most of my teenage and young adult life has been spent trying to look or act different so that I was more “likable.” It’s taken me many failed relationships, major life changes, and a whole lot of therapy to feel this way about myself. My therapist (shoutout to Dr. Kelly!) taught me a lot about self-love and where I was holding myself back. The good news is that self-love is not a destination; it’s the most important lifelong relationship you’ll ever work on. Now that we have all the cheesy clichés out of the way, read on for five things I learned from my therapist that helped me love myself and will maybe help you love yourself too. 

    Self-love is not a destination; it’s the most important lifelong relationship you’ll ever work on.

    Source: @josie.santi

    1. “Perfect” isn’t a goal
    When I first started seeing my therapist, I told her about my anxiety by explaining it as “illogical” and “a little crazy” (as if that somehow made it less illogical or crazy?). I also explained behaviors like falling asleep with the TV on or scrolling through Instagram during my morning meditation time by prefacing with, “I know it’s bad for me.” I’d get frustrated if I failed a health goal, wasn’t able to sleep at night because stress kept me awake, or made a wrong decision. I used these “failed goals” to explain what’s wrong with me rather than questioning that something might be wrong with the goals (but more on that below).
    The judgment over my own behaviors came from the idea that I had to be perfect. But not achieving a goal or making a mistake is not a failure; it’s a way to get to know yourself better. Plus, you already know perfect isn’t possible thanks to every cliché self-help book and inspirational quote out there (so start believing it!), but even if it was achievable, achieving it wouldn’t make you happier anyway. Your goal as a human being should be to find balance, not to achieve perfection. 
    2. Self-love doesn’t just happen
    Self-love is a skill, not a circumstance. Just like happiness or gratitude, self-love doesn’t just happen to you when you reach a certain job title or pants size. It’s a muscle that needs to be worked repeatedly in order to make it stronger. Every negative thought, moment of self-doubt, or criticism that comes up is like a practice round to improve self-love because you can recognize the thought and choose a more positive thought instead. Also, please stop saying that once you lose weight, get a promotion, or have more money, then you will love yourself. That’s just not how the mind works. You achieve what you want in life because you first know you deserve it, not the other way around. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    3. The problem isn’t you, it’s your expectations
    So you don’t look like a Photoshopped influencer, can’t resist cheese fries, or are too lazy to work out five times a week. You probably use all of these “failures” as justification to criticize yourself, thinking things like, “If only I had more willpower or as a better person, I could achieve what I want.” But why do you want to achieve those things in the first place? Would looking like someone else make you truly happier? No. Would working out five times a week make you happier? No. Would saying “no” to cheese fries make you happier? Helllll no. The truth is that we get so caught up in what we’re supposed to do, want, and be that we forget to think about what would actually make us happy. If you’re not meeting expectations, the problem is not you. The problem is that your expectations and goals don’t truly align with what it takes to make you happy (yep, that’s some deep ish, read that again). 
    When it comes to my own self-love, I’m letting my body exist in the healthy space it wants to be in. My “ideal weight” is the one that I feel most strong, energized, and healthy in, but also one that allows me the extra indulgences, fun moments, and enjoyment that makes life worth living. Our own expectations and goals should be tools we use to help us live our happiest lives. Otherwise, what’s the point?  

    4. There’s a difference between what you think is reality and actual reality
    My therapist showed me how my thought patterns would go into “all-or-nothing” mode, or better known as black-and-white thinking. Either I was perfectly healthy and motivated or I stopped caring about my health altogether; either I was crushing it at work or I thought I was completely messing up; either I loved my outfit and my hair looked great or I felt totally insecure leaving the house. The problem with this way of thinking is that I believed what my mind told me, thinking it was reality. 
    PSA: Life always has shades of gray. Plus, it’s not just gray, but a variety of colors you can choose from. If you’re criticizing or hard on yourself, it’s almost always because of your mindset, not because of reality (read: no one else is as hard on you as you are). Realize where you’re thinking in black and white, then add in other options. For example, you can be really good at your job while still making some mistakes, you can be healthy while indulging in chocolate cake, and you can still be happy with your life, even when you’re stressed about parts of it. 

    Source: @josie.santi

    5. Self-respect is more important
    So self-love gets all the buzz these days, but I’d like to introduce you to a new word that’s even more important: self-respect. Unfortunately, most of us aren’t going to live with the Lizzo-level “I’m my own soulmate” vibes 24/7 (not even Lizzo!) and love everything about ourselves. Maybe you want to change your nose, hate the way you look in an outfit, or regret something you did. And that’s OK, because when you love yourself (and I mean really, really love yourself), it’s not that you don’t have those thoughts, it’s just that you know those things don’t make you less than what you are.
    You achieve self-love the same way you build up any other relationship: show you care, do what you say you’re going to do, enjoy time alone, be kind, and be thoughtful. Confidence just means that you trust your own word, and self-respect comes when you live in alignment with who you truly are. Aim for self-trust and self-respect instead, knowing that self-love will follow. 

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