We all have days where we feel like things aren’t going as planned, and sometimes is hard to cope with it. This post, for example, came from an experience of speaking at a brand new event in my town, geared towards inspiring people.
It was raining Saturday morning, and I spent the night before working on about 40 slides that would flow and tell the story of how I came to leave my career as an Art Director to become a Meditation and Mindfulness evangelist. I was the second speaker of the day, set to start at 10:30 am, and it was a surprise when I started setting up on the room where I was supposed to be, realizing that there was no P.A. system for the presentation.
After a deep breath, I came up with a plan for a group workshop that could translate the same ideas of the presentation, and engage with the audience there. My plan, however, was short-lived. The speaker who was presenting in the main stage canceled at the last minute, and I was invited to take over the spot.
I’ll skip all the technical problems that were still happening, between computer failures and lack of I.T. support. Luckily, I was carrying with me a PDF version of the talk. “So long notes, hello anxiety.”
“Let’s go with the flow. Let’s see how this goes.” – I told myself. After all, what better way of living through my own words.
The presentation wasn’t so intimidating. Only six people were in the audience. There were plenty of people on the back; however, they were looking over the vendor tables that were set up in the same room. I thought to myself… “Oh, man, we’re all going through the same… Trying to give our best, managing expectations, and dwelling on the dilemma of the things we can’t change.”
That prompted me on trying to make the best of the moment. If six people were the ones paying attention, hopefully, those were the ones that needed this talk. And if I’m already on the stage, then this is the time to record this talk, and who knows how many more one day may see this, and I can live up to the title of the event – “Inspire.”
Below is part of the transcript of that talk on how I addressed stressful situations throughout my life. This 5 tips helped me to see a better way of working out situations that I can’t change, measure worries better, be more mindful and patient, and to take action on the things that matter.
Feel free to skip the text and watch this 10 minute video. In one way or another my intent is that people see that there are different ways to deal with stress, and in the end, the most important thing is how we perceive what stress is.
— I’m going to start talking about how stress is actually essential to you as wellbeing. There is something called eustress, which literally means positive stress.
Stress is everywhere in life. We need stress to grow.
Plants, they come from seeds. They accumulate energy, and it’s through stressing the soil that they sprout.
Stress is essential, but we don’t need to bring more of it to our lives than what’s already natural to us.
I’m from Brazil, and I’ve been living in the U.S. for five years now. I am a mosaic of all the things that gives me passion and make me thrive, and some of those things are very stressful to deal with. I love being a father, for example, but that’s no smooth ride.
My move from Brazil to Pensacola was a considerable change. In Sao Paulo, where I lived, we had a population of 12 million people. Pensacola has fewer people than the neighborhood where I was living. In that megalopolis, to take the subway some days was pretty stressful, with more than 1 million people being transported daily. If you wouldn’t be on public transportation, and you preferred your car, you may still stress out with traffic – on worse days where you could get stuck in about 120 miles of traffic.
For a decade or more, I worked with advertising and marketing. Deadlines were extremely stressful and competitive. Pulling all-nighters was common among everyone in the field. And most days I was going home and working on freelance projects.
All of that was taking a toll on me. Stress was literally eating me alive, and I was eating more and more because of stress.
I needed to stress less. I needed to take away from my life all these stressful things that were happening all the time.
Now, be mindful, this is about my life. This is what worked for me. I want you to think about how you can implement similar things in your life, but it may not be necessary that you need to go through all this.
And here is what I did that helped me to find better ways to cope with stress.
Tip 1: Volunteering.
I started volunteering.
You can imagine that with that massive population in Sao Paulo, we have lots of problems and thus lots of opportunities to volunteer.
To me, it started when I was in a group learning about mediumship – a common practice in Brazil. In Latin America, there are a lot of spiritist centers, where one can learn how to develop their mediumship. That’s literally how I started getting out of being stuck in my own mind.
Through one of the insights – one of the communications that I had – I got to truly empathize with other beings, and think beyond my soapbox. This was what led me to participate with this study group into volunteering with homeless people.
Every week we would go out and talk with the homeless, bring them food and water, bring all the necessary supplies for one more week struggling on the streets. Trying to comfort them to some level, developing relationships with individuals that most often are just ignored when people are passing by.
Volunteering was crucial to help me deal with stress, even if it sounds counterintuitive since you are adding something extra on your busy life. It was a powerful motivation to address my own reasoning with my stressful moments.
When volunteering, you are developing empathy, exercising compassion, and selflessness. You’re taking time to reflect on the things that you do and realizing where you stand in the world.
Not only that but physiologically you’re releasing oxytocin, a hormone that is associated with good things and pleasant emotions. So volunteering brings that happiness, neurologically speaking, to yourself.
That was my start. Be happy became my motto because, upon reflection, I realized I didn’t have reasons not to be.
Tip 2: Change your environment
We all know, it’s easier said than done. And as much as I wanted that mantra to dictate my life, there were a series of things that weren’t only stressful, they were making me unhappy.
At work, the deadlines and crazy requests were getting me out of my mind and giving me twitches, anxiety attacks, and taking a toll on my physical health. That made me decide to take action and open my own company.
If I couldn’t change the policies and structure of the place where I was working, I would then to create my own. Again, I wasn’t removing the stress of my life, as much as finding positive stress that could motivate me to face it in a healthy way and not overwhelm my mind.
That gave me time to enjoy more relationships with my friends, to focus on my hobbies, to do more of the works and projects that I love. I discovered that changing my environment, I could change my perception of stress and the amount of weight I could take.
Tip 3: Self-Development (or get a hobby)
Volunteering with the homeless led me to volunteer with children. That gave a completely different perspective on what I was doing and how I was living. It made me see everything from these children point of view. Regardless of the position, they were in, they were children. They wanted to play, to be silly, to enjoy every second at its max, to extend every moment to its best, and live life as fully as they could. They would laugh even when life had taken away all the reasons of fun from their childhood.
That showed me what I was missing in my own life. To take things lightly, to enjoy what is in front of me.
I kept my journey of self-development. Looking for how can I be better at helping and improving myself so I can help others? I found my passion in that.
And while I was on that journey, another path of my life came to an end. My marriage fell apart. My marriage was one of those stressful things in my life, a co-dependent relationship, that with time grew apart, and as I found space for joy, there was no more space for the sorrow from it. That happens with a lot of people.
I kept volunteering. I kept changing the things in my life and the surroundings that I didn’t like. I got closer to my family. I kept my spiritual development going, and the universe was aligned and giving me more happiness than I could ever imagine.
Physically I was feeling better, mentally I was feeling better, emotionally I was feeling better.
Tip 4: Faith and Love
My life was movement and flow. Like rafting through rough waters, there was still stress, but it was positive stress, that led to focus on where I was heading while enjoying the ride.
For some people, that’s where everything starts.
I was in that stage of my life where I was really putting myself out there, giving myself more, focusing on myself. I found true love for myself.
Be compassionate, forgiving to yourself, and be open and honest to yourself.
Have faith in yourself. Trust in your journey, and the lessons that you can learn from your life.
Keeping those things in mind, before you reach out to something greater than yourself, before reaching to other people, find the real change in your life by believing in yourself, believing in your dreams, and keeping your expectations about yourself realistic.
Don’t be hard on yourself. Faith and love will really drive you and drive the universe back to you.
Faith and love also release oxytocin. Actually, this is the common thread to all these tips that I’m giving. To an extent, scientifically they may provide benefit to you.
Tip 5: Meditation
Meditation kind of came naturally at some point. I found this space for myself. And again a practice that put all the other things in place.
So I recommend creating your own space. Allowing yourself to have space – physically and mentally. And understand that meditation is an individual practice that varies with each individual.
Do what better works for you, different ways, different methods, different practices. Find what you really need to work on what works for you and for your development.
In meditation, the starting point is letting your thoughts to be organized. Sometimes it’s just taking a moment to reflect on what is going on. Just taking a moment of silence.
You’re going to develop resilience towards stressful situations when you meditate. You’re going to have more clarity in decision making. You’re going to have more focus and overall better health. Meditation, again, also releases oxytocin.
It’s all about how your brain works, and how we use it more efficiently.
Now I’m happily married. I’m five years married. I have a beautiful son. I’m starting a new company here in Pensacola, focused on meditation and mindfulness, focused on helping individuals through their journey of self-development.
It is stressful to start a new company. It is stressful to be in a relationship. It is stressful to be a father. Now I need to learn how to cope with those things.
But I feel less stressed. Not because there is no stress in my life, but now I perceive and feel the tension differently, dealing with it more mindfully.
I go back to those five tips regularly. Reminding myself of the journey. And I feel much better when I realize how much growth can come from that.
The natural stress really propels you to grow bigger, stronger, and more resilient than ever. It’s about mindfulness and purposefully living. Finding what really brings this joy to life, and that will bring the oxytocin back to your brain.
Do you need help implementing these tips in your routine and life? With Meditation and Mindfulness Coaching, Health and Wellness Coaching, and Life Coaching, you may find the right support and motivation to bring the right patterns and changes in your life. Schedule a visit with our coaches at Empathic Practice and see how you can take your journey further.