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I Walked Away From My Six-Figure Corporate Career, This Is How I Manage My Stress

As much as I want to believe I am Wonder Woman – I am not.

Workin' Girl

Like most people, I hate feeling stressed even though I work well under pressure. Yes, I am one of those people who often get things done last minute because set schedules do not work for me. I have had plenty of structure, but I need the flexibility to just do me. Though, I don't think I can continue to keep up this level of procrastination. But I promise you I am working on better time management habits. The minute I start to feel overwhelmed, I feel like I'm mentally drowning in my to-do list. Fear and doubt begin to slowly dominate my mind as I began to go down a rabbit hole of "what ifs". I'm sure many of you can relate to what I just described.

Parts of me feel like I should no longer feel stressed anymore, after walking away from a six-figure corporate career. I physically removed myself from an environment that no longer served me or my purpose. I finally reached a place of happiness and peace too. And the life I am creating now is completely under my control. At least, that's what I tell myself.

But now that I am self-employed, managing my personal life, family, friends, and my craft seemed to get a whole lot harder. If I don't pre-plan my week, the day will surely run away from me. Other times, I have to give myself grace because there are days where I just can't do it all. As much as I want to believe I am Wonder Woman – I am not.

Thankfully, we now live in a society that supports mental health and well-being. And there are so many different ways to manage your stress. For me, managing my stress looks like anything that I can do to get my mind off what tasks I still need to finish and how much time I have left. Typically, my go-to stress relievers are mindfulness and physical activity. Sometimes, this could also look like enjoying a hot cup of tea that I made. For whatever reason, a warm drink is very soothing to me. Hell, holding the warm cup by itself even makes me feel calm. But let's look at some simple things you can do during your day to minimize stress.

Manage Your Time

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Time management sounds easier than it looks but learning to manage your time looks different for all of us. And for me, time management is currently my number one stressor. I have a bad habit of piling things on my plate and not knowing how to plan my day to succeed. Mainly, because I like my flexibility and I find block scheduling quite stifling. Over the years, I have also learned to prioritize deadlines. Apps like Trello, a daily planner, or calendar can help manage your time. The key is to figure out what time management looks like for you and commit to some form of a schedule. But also realize, it's OK if certain things didn't get done the way you would like. Think about how you can fit whatever that is on the next day. You are not a machine and you shouldn't treat yourself like one either.

Stay Grounded

When I say stay grounded, I am not only referring to breathwork and meditation. I mean connecting with nature. According to an article by Harvard Health, 20 minutes in nature helps lower stress hormone levels. Do you ever stop to notice how you feel when you are outside? Do you pay attention to the colors of the grass, leaves, and flowers? What about how the fresh air feels on your face? How about how the sun feels on your skin? And by all means, if deep breaths and meditation is what gets you through your day, try doing it outside. It's a game-changer. Next time you're feeling stressed, step outside for a few minutes, you'll notice the difference in your energy level.

Get Moving

Physical activity is my all-time favorite stress reliever. It allows me to refocus and clear my mind. Remember, your physical, mental, and emotional well-being are all interconnected and exercise helps all three. But for me, it just can't be any workout. It must be high-impact – boxing, running, plyometrics, jumping rope, or a boot camp style strength training workout. It's the high-intensity workouts for me that give me the out-of-breath feeling that I need to feel a sense of relaxation. Some prefer low-impact workouts like yoga or walking while others enjoy Pilates and Barre classes. But honestly, as long as you're moving your body, that's all that matters.

Take A Break

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Put down your phone, shut down your laptop, and walk away from your workspace. Take a break. Do nothing for 15 to 20 minutes. Your body is good at telling you when you need a break too. The key is learning to listen to your body. The excessive yawns, stiff joints, dry eyes, and back pain? Those are all signs you need a break from whatever it is you are doing. So, next time you feel that pain in your neck while you are working, know that your body is telling you to take a break.

At the end of the day, you know yourself best. At least I hope you do. Self-care practices vary for everyone but do realize the way you choose to manage your stress is just as important as a healthy diet and setting boundaries.

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Before she was Amira Unplugged, rapper, singer, and a Becoming a Popstar contestant on MTV, she was Amira Daughtery, a twenty-five year-old Georgian, with aspirations of becoming a lawyer. “I thought my career path was going to lead me to law because that’s the way I thought I would help people,” Amira tells xoNecole. “[But] I always came back to music.”

A music lover since childhood, Amira grew up in an artistic household where passion for music was emphasized. “My dad has always been my huge inspiration for music because he’s a musician himself and is so passionate about the history of music.” Amira’s also dealt with deafness in one ear since she was a toddler, a condition which she says only makes her more “intentional” about the music she makes, to ensure that what she hears inside her head can translate the way she wants it to for audiences.

“The loss of hearing means a person can’t experience music in the conventional way,” she says. “I’ve always responded to bigger, bolder anthemic songs because I can feel them [the vibrations] in my body, and I want to be sure my music does this for deaf/HOH people and everyone.”

A Black woman wearing a black hijab and black and gold dress stands in between two men who are both wearing black pants and colorful jackets and necklaces

Amira Unplugged and other contestants on Becoming a Popstar

Amira Unplugged / MTV

In order to lift people’s spirits at the beginning of the pandemic, Amira began posting videos on TikTok of herself singing and using sign language so her music could reach her deaf fans as well. She was surprised by how quickly she was able to amass a large audience. It was through her videos that she caught the attention of a talent scout for MTV’s new music competition show for rising TikTok singers, Becoming a Popstar. After a three-month process, Amira was one of those picked to be a contestant on the show.

Becoming a Popstar, as Amira describes, is different from other music competition shows we’ve all come to know over the years. “Well, first of all, it’s all original music. There’s not a single cover,” she says. “We have to write these songs in like a day or two and then meet with our producers, meet with our directors. Every week, we are producing a full project for people to vote on and decide if they’d listen to it on the radio.”

To make sure her deaf/HOH audiences can feel her songs, she makes sure to “add more bass, guitar, and violin in unique patterns.” She also incorporates “higher pitch sounds with like chimes, bells, and piccolo,” because, she says, they’re easier to feel. “But it’s less about the kind of instrument and more about how I arrange the pattern of the song. Everything I do is to create an atmosphere, a sensation, to make my music a multi-sensory experience.”

She says that working alongside the judges–pop stars Joe Jonas and Becky G, and choreographer Sean Bankhead – has helped expand her artistry. “Joe was really more about the vocal quality and the timber and Becky was really about the passion of [the song] and being convinced this was something you believed in,” she says. “And what was really great about [our choreographer] Sean is that obviously he’s a choreographer to the stars – Lil Nas X, Normani – but he didn’t only focus on choreo, he focused on stage presence, he focused on the overall message of the song. And I think all those critiques week to week helped us hone in on what we wanted to be saying with our next song.”

As her star rises, it’s been both her Muslim faith and her friends, whom she calls “The Glasses Gang” (“because none of us can see!”), that continue to ground her. “The Muslim and the Muslima community have really gone hard [supporting me] and all these people have come together and I truly appreciate them,” Amira says. “I have just been flooded with DMs and emails and texts from [young muslim kids] people who have just been so inspired,” she says. “People who have said they have never seen anything like this, that I embody a lot of the style that they wanted to see and that the message hit them, which is really the most important thing to me.”

A Black woman wears a long, salmon pink hijab, black outfit and pink boots, smiling down at the camera with her arm outstretched to it.

Amira Unplugged

Amira Unplugged / MTV

Throughout the show’s production, she was able to continue to uphold her faith practices with the help of the crew, such as making sure her food was halal, having time to pray, dressing modestly, and working with female choreographers. “If people can accept this, can learn, and can grow, and bring more people into the fold of this industry, then I’m making a real difference,” she says.

Though she didn’t win the competition, this is only the beginning for Amira. Whether it’s on Becoming a Popstar or her videos online, Amira has made it clear she has no plans on going anywhere but up. “I’m so excited that I’ve gotten this opportunity because this is really, truly what I think I’m meant to do.”

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