Gabrielle Union Says Finding the Perfect Therapist Is a Lot Like Dating

Kelsey Hurwitz
·4-min read
Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth
Photo credit: Rodin Eckenroth

From Woman's Day

To say 2020 has been a stressful year would be an understatement. Between the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic, the presidential election, human rights protests, and the near-constant reminders that life will never be "normal" again, it's easy to see how the stress of this year has been overwhelming for many people. For actress Gabrielle Union, finding a way to manage that stress has included therapy.

"I probably haven't gone to therapy this much in over 25 years," Union tells Woman's Day. "The upside of not leaving my house is I don't have to factor in L.A. traffic in getting to my therapist, so I've made therapy a part of my week."

Union says she's been able to navigate the ups and downs of the year by adjusting her therapy schedule. "That week when they were like, 'Oh yeah, there's these things called murder hornets,' it's like I can add a couple extra sessions that week," she laughs.

Finding the right therapist to confide in and trust is the main reason why therapy has been so beneficial for Union during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. "I kind of think about therapy the way I think about dating, or the way I talk to our kids about dating," Union explains. "The first person you date will probably not end up being your spouse or your soulmate. And it's OK to date around, to talk to different people, and to figure out if the vibe works for you, if their philosophy about therapy matches what your needs are. And if at first you don't succeed, try, try again, but keep trying until you find the fit that works."

Therapy isn't Union's only tool to improve and maintain her mental health these days. "I rely heavily on therapy, on guided meditation, on positive affirmations, and trying to create enough of a routine that I don't ever feel overwhelmed," she says. She says she has also gotten better at giving herself the "grace and space" she needs to say "no" on days when she needs a break to reset.

"You think people won't be OK with it, and you'll lose your job, and you'll lose your fiends, and people will be mad at you," she says. "But I think everyone kind of waits for the one person to draw the boundary, and then they're like, 'Oh my God, the water's warm, I'm going to try drawing boundaries too and saying no and asking for grace and extending grace.'"

Union has also been leaning into a new meditation practice. She says meditation had been suggested to her for years from friends and wellness professionals, and she would try it out occasionally, but never really got into it.

"I have to say, when the rubber hits the road and your back is against the wall — like our backs have been collectively against the wall during this pandemic — I circled back to it, and I found it to be so soothing and stress relieving," she says. "I just kind of knew I was hitting an emotional rock bottom, and I was willing to try anything at that point. And I knew I needed something daily because therapy was more weekly, and I needed something daily."

She ended up doing research on YouTube and watching countless meditation videos led by different people with different voices and philosophies. Eventually she stumbled upon Logan Browning's guided meditations on Instagram, and fell in love with the Dear White People star's sessions. "Her voice to me sounds like heaven," Union says. "She is literally an angel on Earth." Union has been saving Browning's meditations to her phone to listen to at the beginnings and ends of her says, and she even partnered with Chase Sapphire and Browning to bring her meditations to more people.

For Union, the daily mediations have been a "game changer" during quarantine. "You light your candles, you get into your routine, you're not looking at social media, and you just give yourself that solid, peaceful foundation to start your day, to tackle the world," she says.

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