During my time in quarantine, I've noticed that it's been a bit on the difficult side of the spectrum to develop consistent content when all I hear is "coronavirus this" and "COVID-19 that" all over the news and in the blogs.
As a journalist and creative, I've had tons of conversations with my fellow creative friends and realized that the pandemic is pushing us out of our comfort zone to think outside of the box for content aside from popular Tik Tok challenges and #QuarantineBae hashtag followings.
While some of us may be struggling and holding onto our creativity by our edges, some are taking this opportunity of time and space by the reins.
The Art of Ebb and Flow
Others are taking life day-by-day and allowing their ideas and inspiration to blossom naturally. "I've really allowed my creativity to ebb and flow naturally. I think the goal should be to prioritize balance and to lean into your own timing, without allowing the pressure to produce constantly consume you," Imani Ellis, founder of CultureCon and the Creative Collective NYC, shares with xoNecole. With the stay-at-home orders here in New York City, Ellis has been able to take full advantage by kickstarting a new program for The CCNYC. "I'm really proud of the Creative Curriculum virtual workshop series we launched recently. It allows creatives from our community to teach tangible skills from the comfort of their couch and it's been inspiring to see that we're still staying connected, especially during such daunting times."
YouTube Is Your Bestie
Actress and fellow creative Andrea Lewis turns to technology and app recommendations to keep her creative skills sharpen and on-point during quarantine. "Idillionaire App is one of my favorites for reminding me to be grateful and giving you positivity updates everyday. But I always recommend using Skillshare and YouTube to learn anything you want!" shares the filmmaker, Degrassi alumna and Toronto-born entertainer. "Especially in this time, when most people are looking to make some changes to either their careers or themselves, both of these sites can give you the best quick education that you need. I go to YouTube for everything."
Andrea also encourages creatives to not succumb to the pressure of joining other social media platforms if they aren't in your niche lane. "I encouraged most of my friends to stick to the work that they've already been working on. Further develop the scripts you've already started writing, edit the videos that you've been sitting on, just sit and daydream about the type of work you want to create right now but don't feel pressure to release it tomorrow. Maintain the audience that you already have, because just like you, they aren't going anywhere so don't feel the pressures of needing to hustle while being in the middle of a PANDEMIC!"
Keep Your Juices Flowing
For a lot of us, as the days roll by, they begin to blend together more times than none. Keeping organized and being on top of your daily tasks is an integral part of remaining sane and staying on top of your creative game. When it comes to allowing your creative juices to flow, award-winning millennial tech speaker, consultant and artist Alex Wolf has the perfect remedy. "Some of my favorite things to do to keep my creative juices flowing are listening to Ari Lennox, opening up all my Pinterest boards on my desktop computer (versus my laptop), go online window shopping, text my random ideas to my group chats," shares the Creative Business School founder.
During the stay-at-home order circling the nation, Wolf has even successfully developed a new program for her online platform. "[During this time,] I think I'm most proud of the audience calculator we made for my online education platform, Creative Business School," she shares. "The calculator is 100% free and for creators who are starting to realize trying to get a million followers just to make pennies from AdShare is not enough. You pop five answers in and it shows you how much extra money you could be making if you converted only 1% of your audience by selling your own product. I haven't met a creative that takes it and isn't shocked about what's possible for them."
Have a Good Balance
Alex Wolf has been on top of her creative game, but what about the rest of us who may feel pressure to overwork ourselves because we're not keeping up with the other accomplishments and dope things we see on Instagram? "To avoid overworking, on Sundays when I set up my week, I always give myself days I set aside for work and days I set aside for relaxing, you have to have a good balance," says social media influencer and YouTuber Tyla-Lauren Gilmore. She also shares her tips and tricks to avoiding laziness and keeping your work ethic strong. "To avoid underworking I'm constantly on Pinterest and YouTube looking for inspiration to keep me motivated to create."
Take a Pause
I don't know about you ladies, but this pandemic is a time to practice stillness and being OK with resting instead of creating at every single second of the day. On-air talent and podcast host of Black Girl Podcast Gia Peppers says, "All in all, this is a traumatic time. Give yourself grace to take a moment to be, instead of always having to do. I've used a lot of this time [so far] to check in with myself. I've been doing a lot of meditating, praying, and reconfiguring parts of myself I may have ignored during busier seasons in my life."
During this time, the VH1's Black Girl Beautyhost shares that she has been giving herself time and navigating how and what she wants to create. "I want to make sure I'm not rushing the dream God has for me, and for any creatives who feel the same, there's absolutely nothing wrong with having a creative process that develops from the inside out. Take the pause you need to, if you need it. Your future self will thank you. Pausing is an absolute privilege that I am aware that I have."
Recenter and Take a Moment
Kéla Walker has been in quarantine under stay-at-home orders like the rest of us, but has a different outlook on the idea of being forced to create content under pressure. "I don't think it's forcing creatives to create more content so much as it's forcing us back to our roots, back to the basics [and] remember why we became creatives," the seven-time Emmy-nominated media maven enlightens xoNecole, "Allowing us to tap into that creative center to produce and leverage our skills, and now do more with less. It's also pushed me to create more content to help and encourage others."
When it comes to her own content development, Walker says it's all about recentering. "My mind has been all over the place since being at home for this extended period of time. One minute I'm working on something and then the next I feel like something else deserves my attention. It's like I'm being pulled in multiple directions, going nowhere fast. That's when I have to just take a moment to pause and recenter."
Featured image via @tylauren/Instagram
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
The first big leap was moving to a new city and getting settled into my new home. The next big leap? Was finding community and belonging. Moving to a new city excited me! I looked forward to having my own apartment, decorating it, and exploring what the city had to offer. I also found excitement in the thought of meeting new people and expanding my connections. When it actually came down to it, I felt nervous. I heard that making new friends as an adult can be hard because we all have different responsibilities and schedules that may not align. I knew in order for me to really feel at home in my new city, I had to create community.
Having a community of people who I can share memories with, lean on in times of need, and inspire each other is something I always valued. I took a moment to truly center in on what I desired from the new friends I would make. Then I realized it all would have to start with me. I had to be centered and confident in who I was to attract who I desired to be aligned with. As someone who moved to a new city and established quality friendships, I gathered these six tips that helped me feel grounded and create community in hopes that it will help you, too.
6 tips to start building community and making new friends in a new city:
Sean Anthony Eddy/ Getty Images
Be true to yourself
Do you know who you are? If someone asked you to describe yourself in three words, what words would you use? In order to develop deep friendships, you must be a friend to yourself first. Know what refuels you and what zaps your energy. Self-study your habits and why you do the things you do. All this will be important to keep in mind when looking to create bonds with others. Every day there’s all kinds of people telling you who you should be, how you should act, or what you should wear. At the end of the day, the only opinion about yourself that truly matters is your own. Spend some alone time with yourself indoors or out at an event you like to truly discover who you are in this season of your life.
Pray about it
Before you step out into the world and cross paths with all kinds of people, it’s important to pray about building your community. God outlines what true friendship looks like in numerous Bible verses such as "Iron sharpens iron." - Proverbs 27:17 and “Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.” - Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. If you desire friendships that last, pray about what you seek in friendship. I remember praying for mentally stable, happy, and whole women who moved through life with abundance mindsets. Take a moment to journal about the community you want to build and then pray on it.
Go to fun events to meet people who share your interests
Most metropolitan cities like Washington, D.C., New York City, and Atlanta are known to have strong young professional communities and events where you can connect with others. I highly encourage you to attend events in or near your community to see what the city is like and meet people. It’s likely that the people at the event have the same interests as you, which is a great way to start a conversation. You can start by searching for events on Eventbrite or following Instagram pages that highlight events happening in your city.
Carlos Barquero/ Getty Images
Accept that you won’t be compatible with everyone you meet
While living in your new city, it’s likely you’ll meet a variety of people. Please know that everyone you meet will not bud into lasting friendships, and that’s okay! You are uniquely created and not made for everyone. Then you’ll meet people who are good for only surface-level connections, and then you’ll have your girls who you can get deep with. I think sometimes people can look down on surface-level friendships, but not everyone needs to fully know you. That’s a privilege to have and to accept within yourself. Continue to check in with yourself and be real about who you crave to spend more time with and who is nice to see for a monthly or quarterly catch-up.
Join Facebook groups & GroupMe chats
If you haven’t used Facebook in a couple of years, it’s time to dust your profile off. Facebook Groups is a great place to join online communities for people who just moved to a new city like you. Typically, you have to agree to the group’s guidelines, and then you can join. For example, you can search for groups in the Facebook app by using keywords like women, Black girl, or [the name of your city] foodies. With the GroupMe app, you’ll have to be invited to join an already existing group. While you’re out and about networking, don’t hesitate to ask if they’re in any online groups/communities they recommend you join too.
Be friendly to folks in your neighborhood
When I first moved to my new apartment, I spent the first week walking around the complex and working in the community spaces to get a better feel of it. I was able to meet people in my neighborhood, enjoy small talk, and learn more about what the community has to offer. Step outside of your comfort zone and work in your apartment’s community space or a local coffee shop to connect with others.
Overall, you may feel alone in your new city, but I guarantee you’re not. There are other people experiencing living in a new city too, and all you need to do is find each other. I hope these tips help ease the nervous feelings you have about building a new community and inspire you to make a new friend today!
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