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Why We Should Be Ignoring Rona-Inspired Productivity

Productivity is not the priority.

Her Voice

Quarantines are never a good thing. They are the restriction on the movement of people, intended to prevent the spread of disease. Yet, we've found a way to turn this period into an obsession with productivity; focusing on our ability to upskill, create a side hustle, or learn a new language. Even more exhausting is the obsession with a looming recession, to build the next billion-dollar company, like Airbnb, Uber, and Instagram. Though there have been a record number of unemployment claims, mass layoffs, and economic hardship, this is not a recession, yet.

So why the uptick in productivity now?

When we're bombarded by the number of positive coronavirus tests and those who have died. The answer lies in our inability to be still and make sense of our feelings. This mindset is a reflection of America's hustle culture, where we must get the most out of every working minute. Sadly, sometimes this comes at the expense of our mental well-being.

For some, their jobs were lost, left with a future of uncertainty. While the essential workers selflessly do their part to protect and provide for others. We are fighting a battle with an invisible force that's changing the way we work, think, and play. Productivity is not a priority. This quarantine is not a paid vacation. The sooner we realize this, the more gentle we'll become, recognizing the need for love and connection.

Our ability to produce is our identity. The Internet wants you to believe that you aren't doing enough. Like our world would come crashing down without constant output. What would happen if you did nothing? I promise taking a break from the computer or building out your next big course won't affect you. There's plenty you can do just for the fun of it.

Practice Gratitude Journaling 

If there's anything that this virus has shown us, it's the fragility of life. Write about a time you were grateful for something a loved one did for you. Got out of bed this morning? Journal it! Have a clean bill of health? Journal it! Are you spending more time with your family? Journal it!

Try Taking an Online Cooking Class

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Instead of seeing cooking as a chore, you can view it as a fun activity. It relieves stress and reduces negative thinking. Author of Addicted to Stress, Debbie Mandel, says, "Cooking is a great destresser because it serves as a creative outlet. And while stress can numb your senses, cooking activates them."

Adult Coloring

Coloring for adults helps reduce anxiety. Research has proven that it can be used as a prelude to conventional therapy for many mental disorders.

At-Home Workouts

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Working out has nothing to do with reaching your fitness goals. Exercise produces endorphins, chemicals in the brain that act as natural painkillers, and also improve the ability to sleep, which in turn reduces stress. The best at-home workouts don't necessarily require a ton of equipment or any equipment at all.

I'm not asking you to stop working. Do what you need to do to feel good. I am asking you to not use productivity as a scapegoat for not living in the present. Now is the time to embrace the little things that have a lasting impact.

Flattening the curve of infection depends on us. Your only duty right now is to help fight this virus through social distancing. Remember, laughter is good for the soul; gratitude raises your vibrations; staying home can save lives, including yours. Please take care of yourself.

Featured image by Shutterstock

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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