In Chill Chat, Bustle sits down with stars to chat about all things wellness, from their favorite workout to their hacks for getting a good night’s sleep. Here, Tabitha Brown shares how she relaxes and the importance of talking to yourself.
Tabitha Brown starts her videos with a catchphrase that will melt your tense, resting blue-light face immediately: “Hello there, y’all all right? Yes? Good.” It’s a warm bath of (vegan) chicken soup for the soul.
The 42-year-old actor first went viral on TikTok in March 2020 for videos featuring pep talks on self-care and thoughts on healing after trauma. In September, she’s adding author to her list of accomplishments with the release of Feeding the Soul (Because It’s My Business), a memoir sprinkled with vegan recipes. And while she says she’s never considered herself to be a wellness influencer, her content continues to resonate because, well, it helps people feel better.
“I've never thought of myself as anything other than a friend or family to people who need it,” she tells Bustle. “When I’m making a post about depression or loving yourself or taking it easy on yourself, it’s to make people not feel alone in their own struggle — to help them understand I’ve been there, too, and it’s going to be all right.”
Taking care of her combined 10 million-plus followers on social media means Brown has had to become a master of self-care. “I put me first and fill my cup up first before I try to fill up anybody else,” she says.
Here, Brown shares her ideal workout playlist, her favorite pre-sleep supplement, and the weirdest wellness rituals she practices.
Walk me through your morning routine. How do you start your day?
I drink water as soon as I wake up — it helps everything move, if you know what I’m saying. I go to the bathroom. My husband gave me this fun toothbrush with these little faces on it: It smiles if you brush long enough, and gives you a sad face if you don’t. So every morning I have moment of laughter with the toothbrush. The best part of my morning is taking my son to school — I love our little talks. When I come back, it’s gym and sauna time. I make a smoothie — this morning it was blueberries, banana, hemp seeds, and mushroom chocolate protein — shower, and get my day started.
What’s your go-to self-care practice?
Speaking things out loud to myself. In the evening, I ask, “Am I holding anything in from earlier in my day?” If something bothered me, I talk about it with myself out loud so I can really think about it. I do this every single day. Yesterday, I talked about how I was concerned about someone but didn’t reach out to check in. That didn’t make me feel well. I grabbed my phone after my self-talk and sent them a message to say I had thought of them and I loved them.
Has it always been easy to talk to yourself? Or did it feel awkward at first?
I’ve always checked in with myself mentally, like, “You good, girl?” but saying it out loud makes me more honest. In the beginning I was uncomfortable, but now I’m like, “Girl, why are you embarrassed to talk to yourself? Nobody is watching!”
Are there other rituals or wellness practices that people might be surprised you do?
When I worked in corporate America, I often felt stuck. I would walk down a very long hallway in the office with my eyes closed so I could envision myself somewhere else. That gave me peace whenever I was frustrated. So sometimes when I’m having a moment, I will walk with my eyes closed so I can take myself to a different place.
What about exercise?
Cardio. I like to get a good sweat, whether it’s a jog on the treadmill or hiking outside.
What do you listen to when you’re jogging or hiking?
Anything that gets me going. Right now, it’s Earth, Wind & Fire’s “September.” I listen to Cardi B or old-school hip-hop, like J. Mafia and Mobb Deep. But I also have a 20-year-old daughter who turns me on to people like SZA and Lizzo.
Do you do yoga or Pilates?
The Pilates machine makes me nervous. Funny story: I fell asleep in my very first yoga class. The teacher was like, “You did so good, you were really connected.” I was like, “Oh, no, honey, I went to sleep!” Now I’m into Bikram yoga. I live with chronic pain, and it helps, so I enjoy it.
If you’ve had a hectic day, how do you wind down before bed?
I love a glass of syrah wine. I call it “Sarah” because she’s my friend. I’ll journal if I have to do my self-talk. If I don’t want to think, I watch junk TV, like Real Housewives.
How do you ensure you get a good night sleep?
Ashwagandha. It helps you relax. But it also makes you feel good with your partner, you know what I’m saying? Getting busy will help you relax, too. I like it when it feels like my bed is giving me a hug. I sleep with three pillows — one pillow under my head, one under my left arm, and the other one is between my knees. People think I’m crazy, but I’m comfortable, honey.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.