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5 Tips for Productivity Despite Anxiety + Depression

Jalyn Harden

There’s a couple times a year where the symptoms sneak in and it becomes possible to succumb to Dirty Diana, or depression. Over the years, the time and seasons have changed; but most times the feelings of hopelessness, negative thoughts, irritability, and fatigue remain the same. We may try continue to carry out professional and academic duties; sometimes, not even to the best of our ability. After we’re done putting on our different hats for the world, we come home and give up on ourselves and the people + things we love most.


There's also been days where we wake up with so much on our plates, that going back to bed would be the ideal option. However, as young professionals, most days, we cannot afford to call out + we must show up. On the days that you have to put on + you begin to notice your mental isn't quite right, try being proactive + positive about how you get through all the planned (and unplanned!) madness for the week. Here are 5 tips to consider to get you through. 

Take it one day at a time.

It’s ideal to take a look at your calendar + be mentally, physically, and emotionally prepared for every task and appointment you have to get done. In the real world, where humans exist, life is not always this simple + it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Know what you have planned for the day; break it down by each task, appointment, or meeting; and focus on it until it ends. (Because, it will end.)

Take 10 deep breaths

Deep breathing is a practice that I started during my yoga journey. Since then, I began practicing it at any point in the day when you feel overwhelmed, sad, irritable, etc. Try taking 10 deep breaths before you start what’s on your agenda for the day or before each task.

Pick up pen and paper

I truly love journaling and will forever consider myself a journal connoisseur. No matter what you’re going through, feel free to write (or type) in a private space. Whether it’s an affirmation, something you read on a blog, heard in a podcast, or 3 pages worth of mess; it’s all a form of expression. Journaling helps during these times because, you can be authentic with your own thoughts, vibes, and emotions on situations you’re going thru when you’re busy or picking up the phone won’t suffice.


Self-care can enhance your life in all aspects. Once you begin to feed your own needs, you'll be able to give more into the lives of others. Planning at least 1 mini self-care activity for that crazy day and/or busy week. Here’s a list of self-care activities you can consider.

Talk with your support system

The best thing to do, which I’m still struggling with, is calling on the people who always show up for you. Support, if you’re blessed enough to have it, can be huge relief. Sometimes we can use a mid day pep talk/text. Let these people know how they can be there for you + vice versa. You may find that this can positively shape your interactions in the future. 

Thanks for reading! Please like, share, and comment below!

Until next time,

Jalyn Tai 



Important Lessons in Self-Care We Can All Learn From Viola Davis' Acceptance Speech

Iyalua Pope

Photo by Entertainment Tonight

Photo by Entertainment Tonight

This past Sunday, I watched Viola Davis approach the mic on the Oscars stage in her bright red evening gown that complimented her skins so well and a hairstyle that framed her face so well. She delivered an awe-inspiring acceptance speech for winning best supporting actress for her role in the movie Fences. (let's chat about Fences later, k?) I was so deeply moved by her speech because she exemplified eloquence, grace, elegance, courtesy, professionalism, humility, gratefulness and what it means to be a class act in less than five minutes. Every 20 seconds or so I kept finding myself saying the word 'yes', as in 'yes God'. It was a powerhouse of  lessons in self-care. In The five minutes of her time, she laid out a roadmap to happiness (I have been enjoying my happiness planner way too much these days). Viola Davis engineers a roadmap to Joy. Here are some key self-care takeaways from the Viola Davis' excellent speech on Sunday.

Video from ABC Network

1. Don't Start Dying Before You Live

This one is very vague and cliché, this I know. But it is one that goes over our heads and gets lost in translation many times. I thought I'd be a darling and help translate for those who may not understand. So let's get into it. Davis opens her speech by saying that the only place where people with the greatest potential in the world meet is the graveyard. And this is true. Let me give you some proof. Have you ever had a dream so big that you could visualize it? You can taste it, you can feel it, you can breathe it. But you give up that dream somewhere along the way because it is too hard or you think you overreached? That is because you are not in concurrence with the existing agreements/beliefs you have made with yourself. You say, for example, "I'm going to be the best fashion stylist the world has ever seen!" but you've made the agreement with yourself that you can't handle rejection. Well, the first time you don't get a gig or that celebrity stylist doesn't hire you as her assistant you are going to give up, because you have more faith in the fact that you cannot handle rejection than you do in your dream of becoming the most famous stylist you could have ever imagined. That dream dies and so does a little part of your spirit because you did not explore a part of your destiny that would have taught you many valuable lessons. You neglect and kill the person you could have become because your doubt stood in between you and your dreams. Don't let this happen. At the end of this thing called life you will end up with stories of your 'dreams that never came to fruition'. You might feel a little guilt and together, that concoction creates this thing called regret.  So, in order to avoid that, what you have to do for yourself now, is audit the agreements that you have made with yourself and get rid of the ones that are harming you and replace them with ones that will help you reach heights that have never imagined. Break free of all those agreements that are holding you back from your true self!

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

2. Express Gratitude For The Things That Give Your Life Meaning

... And I don't mean your new car or your closet. Viola Davis was moved to tears as she began to extend praise and for love into all of the elements of her life that validate her existence and give her life meaning. She thanked her parents or bringing her into this world and her sister for fueling her imagination. She also thanked her nuclear family, her husband and her daughter for being the foundation of her life. IT was absolutely beautiful. But the awards stage and an acceptance speech should not be the only time that we praise our loved ones, alive or dead, for bring such irreplaceable value in our lives. We should do this everyday. So I encourage you, dear reader, to make a daily list of all of the people and things that you are grateful for in your life. Do not feel guilty if your list is short when you begin. When you begin to extract joy from the little things, you will observe the growth of your list over time. And you will be grateful just for that! As you find more things to be grateful of and you see this gratefulness will multiply and magnify your joy. Furthermore, this will help you implement number lesson #1 more efficiently in your life.  

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

3. Enjoy Every Step of Your Journey

Art is supposed to make artists happy. When you create art, you should feel relieved and pleased that you have created something with intention and love. You have to love the painting even while you are just filling in the background. You have to love the dance even when you just choreographed the first two 8-counts. August Wilson, the playwright of Fences, enjoyed the process of celebrating people as they were, enjoying the journey to find meaning and purpose in their lives. How do we know? Because he kept doing it, play after play, series after series. Davis praises August Wilson and his particular selection of his muse, the ordinary people whose lives were the subject of most, if not all, of his plays. His muse works like this: by bearing witness to his plays, he  instructs his audience to examine the life of these ordinary people and correct the mistakes they made. If you have never read the play, the opening quote of fences reads,

When the sins of our fathers visit us, We do not have to play host. We can banish the with forgiveness as God, in His Largeness and Laws.

His plays were lessons about life for the ordinary person. He made the lessons relatable. We have all had to make sacrifices, we have all had that coming-of-age phase in our lives and we have all had to stare forgiveness in the face and embrace it. These are all themes in the movie that Viola Davis won her Oscar for on Sunday that August Wilson wrote. How can you learn a lesson if you don't know what mistakes were made in order to correct them? That's where the self-reflection comes in. If you have made a mistake somewhere along your journey, keep going! Keep going until you have reached failure. Not only will you have added texture to your character, but like a math problem, you will be able to go back right to the points where you felt like you went wrong and examine them, like Wilson instructs his audience to, so that you can learn the lesson and avoid the mistake in the future. Remember success is because of failure, not in spite of it! 


Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

I say all of this to say, Viola Davis' speech was the GPS that we all needed in our journey's to finding our purposes. If you are lost or just nee help getting back on your path, begin with these three simple steps and watch your joy grow, your skin glo and your character soar! 


Baggage Claim

Iyalua Pope

Photography by Vogue Paris

Photography by Vogue Paris

i take pride in knowing that i have these weird theories about life and living. One of my favorites is the ‘bedroom theory’. Basically, i’ve always been a believer that your room is an exact reflection of your mind. If your room is a cluttered.. well.. so is your mind. (don’t be ashamed girl, my mind and my room is always a hot a** mess). If it’s tidy and organized, then you’re probably well on your way to being on the Forbes 30 under 30. If your room is a mess because you got some things you can’t let go of.. and you don’t have a proper place for them fit neatly in your room, two pieces of advice from me to you. 1. let it go, sis and 2. examine your emotional plane. You might be weighed down by baggage that doesn’t even belong to you! And in 2017, when we tryna secure the bag, we ain’t got time for that. 

As you read baggage claim, keep the bedroom theory in mind. Always remember to pack light and stay organized. Stay golden ✨

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

i decided yesterday that I was going to pick up and go. step out on faith, whatever you wanna call it. i just gotta get away from this place i’ve made a home. so i packed up and i left. didn’t tell nobody where i was going. figured it’d be peaceful that way. i had my mind set on a destination and i didn’t want nobody to try to talk me out of it so kept it all to myself. i figured this was between God, me and my stuff. 

i arrived at the airport the next morning. Me and all my bags. i don’t know how, but i managed to get them all inside and checked in. 478 whole dollars just so that i can carry all that stuff with me. i asked myself, ‘do you really need this stuff?’. i retorted yes loudly in the airport to everybody and nobody at the same time. Surely, the crying wolf made all the sheep alert. But nonetheless, me and my carry-ons meandered our way to the security checkpoint where i got held up over the particulars of what is and what isn’t appropriate and what can and cannot be taken on this journey with me. i had trouble parting ways with my stuff, but i had no choice. It was either throw it away and get to where i'm going or waste $478 and stay home..

i almost missed my flight. can you believe it? i mean, is it really that hard to believe? these bags are slowing me down! but conveniently enough the last row on the left was empty when i finally boarded. i took the window seat. and i dropped my bags in the other two seats next to me just in case somebody wanted to sit down while they waited for the bathroom. tuh, not today. the flight attendant tried to tell me that i had to move my stuff to the floor for ascension, i flipped her the bird and strapped my bags into the chairs. my declaration that the 478 paid for their seats..

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY

when i finally landed and got off the plane i made my way to baggage claim. but this time i paid the guy ride me through the terminal so i didn’t have to be so long. when i finally got to baggage claim, my bags came up one directly after another. it was like hell trying to catch them all by myself. i must have looked like a thief in the night. no one person should have all them bags! in thinking to myself. once i got them all, i was exhausted. i self- consciously made my way out of the way so that i could call my uber and get where i gotta go. but i'm tripping over these bags and ughhhhhh! this one just ripped… this is a hot mess!!! 

so when i reached my destination, i took a good look at my appearance. bags and all. i looked a hot mess, but 'a hot mess' is an aesthetic i embrace so i dismissed it. threw the bags down and started familiarizing myself with this new town i'd be calling home.  i took to the town. gathered some moss and made acquaintance with some people. and before long, i forgot about my bags and made what i thought was a home out of my new destination.

i think i may have taken too long to get settled into my place because i invited this guy home one night and the first thing he said when we got there was, 'why do you have so many bags?' lied and said some of them belonged to my sisters (that don't exist). i only brought a few and the rest were shipped ahead of them. but maybe the tone of my voice or the expression on my face gave it away, i don't know. but what i do know is that he didn't believe me. he told me he was going to the bathroom and he dipped. never saw him again. guess he thought if we got close i'd crowd his space because there's no way possible that any one person should have all those bags.. 

savoring the embarrassment endured by me and my bags the night before, i started to unpack. the most gruesome task i could have ever encumbered myself with. i mean seriously. i found bags inside of bags, inside of bags inside of bags. bags that didn't even belong to me. stuff i shouldn't have been carrying in the first place! i can just hear that ghost laughing at me, calling me all kinds of dumbasses. and i couldn't even rightfully be the least bit angry. funny how i didn't mean to bring a lot of these things, but here they are staring me right in my face like i owe them rent. halfway thru my baggage, i stood in the middle of my place and let out a deep ass sigh. No one person should have all these bags. 

it finally became clear to me that I have got to get rid of some of these bags. i brought that same home i was escaping from right along with me. my room had become overcrowded and overcapacity. since that baggage has been evicted i've been living life. and this one person will never have that many bags again. 

Photo by GIPHY

Photo by GIPHY