In this year of chaos and uncertainty, two things have gotten Gabrielle Union through: therapy and guided meditations. Among the many revelations that she’s had in 2020, the powerhouse actress realized that in order to show up for herself and others she needed to dive deeper into her wellness and healing journey. In doing so, Union has now entered into a chapter of her life that is all about finding peace and giving herself grace.
Understanding that we all need to prioritize our wellbeing (especially this year), Union partnered with Chase Sapphire to create a one-of-a-kind wellness box ($150) filled with some of her favorite self-care essentials. As part of the initiative, Union also called on her friend and fellow actress Logan Browning to lead a guided meditation service on YouTube. We recently had the chance to chat with Union about her wellness staples, morning rituals with her family, setting boundaries, and her tips for surviving the holidays during this unprecedented year. Keep scrolling to read everything she had to say.
Can you tell us a little bit about what went into curating the wellness box that you partnered with Chase Sapphire on?
I do include some of my favorite things. But, I also really wanted to use my platform and this opportunity to highlight Black-owned businesses that have helped get me through the quarantine. So, one of the brands that I highlighted was The Dream Luxury Candle ($45) from the Harlem Candle Company. I had heard about the company through a friend and went down the rabbit hole of Teri Johnson, who created the company, and became inspired and really wanted to include her company. The Dream Candle is one of those scents that kind of speaks to peace and grace when you need that relief. I like a stronger scent that's not overwhelming, and it's just this beautiful combination of lavender, vanilla, and flowers. It's perfect for my nighttime and bathtime ritual.
If you could describe your 2020 in one word, what would that word be, and why?
Surprising. My husband and I do vision boarding every New Year's Eve before whatever party we go to. We set our intentions and our hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. Over the last couple of years, we've stopped really focusing on very specific things, and we leaned more into words and realized we shouldn't put a cap on the dream. Years ago, I might have said I wanted a trip to Hawaii and cut out a picture of Hawaiian island versus putting a picture of water, or a sky, or the word hope. Doing that takes the ceiling off of your dreams and opens up the world so, with that type of dream manifestation, it could go anywhere. You have to leave open this space of surprise and revelation and discovery, which has been really awesome and fun, and it's led to really amazing adventures.
You have to leave open this space of surprise and revelation and discovery...
So, you know, I had my vision board, and I'm ready for whatever. We start the year off, and I surprised [Dwyane] with Paris Fashion Week for his birthday. And then Kobe [Bryant] dies, and it's just utter devastation. And then it's the coronavirus, the quarantine, murder hornets, and they confirm aliens. And for the first time in my adult life, I have been trapped with my own family. Between my husband and I, we've lived very transient lifestyles where we're constantly moving from city to city. We're rarely home for long periods of time, so this is the longest I have ever been with my own family. We've had to get to know each other in a different kind of way and be open to what comes with learning each other, discovering each other, and figuring out different ways of loving each other to see what that can lead to.
I thought I loved my husband for certain reasons, but throughout this pandemic, I've fallen in love with this man so many times where I'm like, "Who the hell are you?" but I keep getting more comfortable and feeling safe with me. He's tapping into parts of his life, his brain, his healing, and the world that he never thought he would or didn't even know existed. And so we're all changing and evolving and healing. We've all been heavily into therapy. We want to come out of this better. But doing all of this work has led to a lot of surprises. Some pleasant, some not so. And we're being open to where the world takes us and trying not to be so rigid in our opinions, beliefs, and rituals.
How has your morning routine shifted from pre-pandemic to now?
My morning routine changed when I started getting eight hours of sleep. Once we put our phones away, we just kind of went to sleep. You realize being on your phone will add so many more hours to your day because you just have to keep scrolling and feel you're going to miss something. But you might not be getting to bed until 2 AM. But in our house, my daughter wakes up early. So that's not going to change. Her schedule has not changed. So I can either get eight hours of sleep to deal with a toddler or, you know, four hours. So, being able to wake up at 5:30 or 6 AM because I've gotten a full night's rest has given me the energy and the time to workout. We work out in the morning together, usually from 7 AM to 8 AM. We have breakfast as a family. And then the day goes on. Zaya has school. Even [Kaavia] has her little schedule.
So, what does your morning routine look like?
So, you know, from the second I get up, I do my guided meditation in the bathroom because there's a door, and it's a private space that most people respect. During the quarantine, Logan Browning started doing guided meditations and putting them on her page, and Logan's voice is so soothing. It is like a little angel. I find a lot of [guided meditations] really aggravating and their voices aggravating. And so, when I find a voice that feels healing and soothing, I run with it.
This is why we've partnered with Logan and Chase Sapphire to get these guided meditations to the world so more people can get this healing. But that's how I start my day. Before I look at social media and see that the world is ending, I do my guided meditation, get in the shower, and do my morning beauty routine. And as I'm doing my morning beauty routine, I'm listening to positive affirmations. I found these positive affirmations by Josie Ong probably like two years ago, and they're bite-sized affirmations. I listen to that while I'm doing my face stuff and my hair routine.
That sounds great. How do you keep that same energy throughout the week when it feels like we just keep getting hit with negative news?
It's supposed to be once a week that I do therapy. But a couple of weeks ago, I did four hours of therapy. It was a jacked-up week. I felt like I was losing it. I had to draw a firmer boundary because sometimes I'm going from 8 AM to 6 PM and barely have time to pee or eat. It's overwhelming, and I was cracking, so I canceled a bunch of things. I leaned heavier into my peace, grace, and healing and did four hours of therapy. And I'm unashamed. I need help, and I'm getting it. I can't be of service to anyone until I am of service to myself. It feels counterproductive when you're a mom, a business person, and a wife, where you're everything to everyone, but you've left nothing for yourself. I needed to reclaim my time and I did, and it made a difference.
I need help, and I'm getting it. I can't be of service to anyone until I am of service to myself.
Are there any tips or advice you can offer on surviving the holidays this year?
Give yourself the grace to be okay with boundaries and to be okay with saying no. Because there are still people who are like, "Come to my house, we won't tell anyone." It's okay to say, "There's a pandemic. I'm actually cool." I'm proud to say "no." Give yourself the grace and the space to protect yourself and your sanity. If there are people around, even if it's your own family, that can cause you stress, it's okay to create boundaries and your own personal safe spaces. And a lot of that just comes with saying, "No, thank you." It sounds weird to say to a person. I say "no thank you," and it's funny watching people's faces. They're like, "You said no thank you to like my presence," And I'm like, "Yeah, no thank you."