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Self Care

In Elemental. More on Medium.

Why does tea calm our nerves?

Photo: Loverna Journey/Unsplash

You’ve had a terrible day. The car wouldn’t start and you walked to the bus stop in pouring rain; you spilled coffee on your trousers; your boss was a pain; your deadline is late. You’ve finally dragged yourself home, damp and deflated, and all you want is a cup of tea to calm your nerves and soothe the day away. It works! But — why does it?

We have been using tea of one kind or another for thousands of years, but green (and black) tea originate in China. Tea has been found in tombs dating as far back as…

Pandemic Winter Health Hacks

How to calm the chaos (on your coffee table)

I’m not entirely sure what goes on in my brain when I work on a jigsaw puzzle, but I do know there is something uniquely engrossing about it. As Marisa Evans reports for Elemental, the slow gathering and careful study of a pile of pieces serves as a form of “play therapy.” By creating order out of chaos, puzzlers arguably experience a mini triumph over (albeit manufactured) anxiety. Puzzling also reportedly delivers a tactile, focused lesson in patience.

I realize this is old news to anyone who has either been puzzling for years or reignited the instinct when social distancing…

If you have to do it, here’s how to do it right

Photo: PeopleImages/Getty Images

There are plenty of very good reasons to be wearing a mask. As we slowly emerge from pandemic lockdowns, face masks, even simple fabric ones, can drastically reduce the spread of Covid-19.

But wearing a tight-fitting covering over your nose, mouth, and chin has its drawbacks, especially as temperatures and humidity rise and we all start sweating behind our masks. Even when washed regularly, a mask can act a bit like a petri dish against the skin. Enter “maskne,” the newest pandemic side effect.

Skin care companies have begun peddling maskne-specific offerings, dermatologists report that calls about breakouts are skyrocketing…

‘In the anxiety of this moment, I deeply appreciate the calm and resilience I’ve found since changing the way I eat.’

Close up of unrecognizable woman cracking an egg for breakfast while putting it in a frying pan.
Close up of unrecognizable woman cracking an egg for breakfast while putting it in a frying pan.
Photo: skynesher/E+/Getty Images

Normally, having an article of mine tweeted by Bernie Sanders would have been all I could talk about. But on the day it happened, my doctor told me something that made the career high pale in comparison: “I’ve never had any patient stay on a low-carb diet this long.”

That was six months ago; I’ve now passed the two-year mark as a strict adherent of the ketogenic diet. Originally used as a treatment for epilepsy, keto (as it’s commonly known) involves cutting out virtually all carbohydrates and instead eating a moderate-protein, high-fat diet so that your metabolism flips from burning…

Welcome to the world of crying therapy sessions

Illustration: Alexis Jamet

It’s the first thing most of us do when we enter this world: cry. And yet by the time we reach toddlerhood, we’re socialized to learn that crying is undesirable behavior. Big boys and girls don’t cry.

Why does our society censor this reflexive expression of emotion? Surely something so instinctual must have an evolutionary purpose.

This is the sentiment echoed by entrepreneur and author Hiroki Terai, the Japanese creator of crying therapy sessions. Over the past few years, his Tokyo-based crying sessions have gained popularity as a self-care method offering supposed mood-enhancing effects.

According to Terai, many people are…

An “invisible illness” that changes everything

Art by Jessica Siao

If you saw me now, you wouldn’t think I was ill. I don’t look ill. I have an “invisible illness” called lupus.

It’s hard to convey to people how I’m feeling and what the practical consequences are. Writing this is painful. I feel stalked by shame when I have to explain why I can’t go out in the evening because I’ll be overcome by fatigue, or why I can’t sit in the sun because I’m photosensitive and the sun makes my joints ache.

Lupus is an autoimmune disease, which means that your own immune system attacks your body — potentially…

Being healthy shouldn’t feel financially out of reach

Credit: Westend61/Getty Images

I’ve always known it was important to be “healthy.” But for much of my life, I didn’t know how to get there.

Growing up in the South, “health” was most often framed around spiritual wellness. As far as my elders were concerned, as long as there was time to regularly pray and read the Bible, I’d achieved the only self-betterment that mattered.

Don’t get me wrong, my family found it sinful to move through the day without having a “good breakfast.” …

Virtual reality is the hottest new way to relax

Illustration: Jon Han

The first time Ralonda Dittmar went to Esqapes Immersive Relaxation, a new virtual reality spa, she was so relaxed exploring a beautiful garden, so captivated by the vivid imagery of rippling water and swaying branches, she thought that her 30-minute experience lasted for hours.

Dittmar, 48, had been stressed with work and constant travel, and needed some time for herself. So she drove to a nondescript office building in Los Angeles, chose her virtual world, and settled into a state-of-the-art massage chair for a full-body massage. The experience led her through a series of deep breathing exercises, and then left…

How my diagnosis and treatment of fibromyalgia changed my self-perception

Photo: Caiaimage/Paul Bradbury via Getty Images

During one of the lowest moments in my year without sleep, I remember watching some silly Disney Channel sitcom where the kids were all settling in for a sleepover. They told each other good night, lay down in their bunk beds, and went to sleep.

I was so jealous.

At that time, I wasn’t sleeping at all. Instead, I was living in some weird twilight zone day and night. Words would often elude me, and minor traffic accidents were frequent. I found myself bruised from running into things. …

Devotees of cycle syncing argue that tracking their physical and mental fluctuations helps them to plan better for everything from workouts to social time

Credit: Ekaterina79/Getty Images

For the past five months, 27-year-old Sara Robbert has been tracking her menstrual cycle — in a graph-ruled notebook, scribbling down a sentence each day about how she feels. Every 28 days or so, she has a new set of data points, which she mentally adds to an ever-expanding portrait of her own emotional and physiological patterns.

Though she’s been tracking her cycle since high school, Robbert says, she now uses these patterns less to predict her periods and more to predict — and make decisions around — her mood and energy levels, using the information to guide her social…


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