October 31, 2013

How to Deal with Stress: The Highs & Lows of Being Instafamous.

There are two sides to my life.

One—I live in Aruba. Life is peaceful here, very quiet, calm. I live in a beautiful home surrounded by cacti and ocean together with my fiancé and our four dogs. On a typical day, I wake up without an alarm clock telling me when, or why, it’s time to get out of bed. I have no office to rush off to. No sitting in traffic, no need to make it anywhere “on time”. No 9-5. I spend as much time as I want on my yoga mat in the morning, I drink tea, have long breakfasts, walk the dogs, go to the beach…whatever I feel like.

I do not have a regular job that requires me to live a “regular” life, with all the stress that comes along with it. I might teach a class here or there, but overall my days are very calm. Even if I had an office job, life on a small island in the Caribbean would be quite calm compared to life in a big city.

I am very blessed to work in a field I am passionate about, and grateful that I have the freedom to create my own schedule.

However, there is a second side to this life; there is stress surrounding me—all the time.

Half a million followers in social media is a lot, and it requires a lot of attention. Posts, comments (not all of them nice), questions…my daily email quota has gone from 200-300 per day to 400-500. And rising.

Brands looking for marketing (you wouldn’t believe the time I spend saying “thank you, but no thank you”), people looking to join workshops and retreats, companies asking for ambassadorships, companies asking to send me stuff, regular people asking to send me stuff (stuff meaning stuff: clothes, jewelry, yoga mats, bags, drawings of me, letters, and some stuff so nuts I can’t even share it with you in this blog), emails about events, festivals, parties, conventions, conferences, journalists asking for interviews, bloggers asking for blogs, yoga students asking for advice, yoga teachers asking for promotions, studios asking for promotions, Instagrammers looking for promotions (I have turned down four-figure offers for shout-outs, there’s none of that in my space)—the whole world is asking me to promote them! It’s invites to challenges (again, it’s a no), crazy people asking about my feet, stalkers asking for my address, real people asking for help, people in prison, people with cancer, people that lost a loved one…I get it all.

Opening my inbox is like opening Pandora’s box—I never really know what’s going to come out and once I’ve opened it there is no turning back. This is a huge origin of stress for me, as you might be able to tell.

I spend so much time staring at my computer screen just trying to figure out how to keep up with all that goes on around me.

Did you send me an email the past weeks and still haven’t heard back? Well, this is why.

I also lead nine to 10 retreats per year which requires me being responsible for very large groups of people—not just in yoga class twice per day but in everything we do throughout an entire week. I travel almost constantly for teaching, and we all know traveling (whether for business or for pleasure or for both) can be extremely stressful.

And when I teach, there is anywhere between 50 and 120 people waiting excitedly to talk, connect, ask questions and take pictures—I have had classes where the time taking pictures after class added up to more time than we spent on the mat during the entire workshop. It’s kind of nuts! I get stopped in the street, at airports, in supermarkets, even at bars by people wanting pictures, advice, hugs (I love hugs keep ‘em coming), autographs. You might not believe it but there are some extremely devoted people out there—it’s all a mystery to me.

I’m just a girl who teaches yoga and tries to be inspirational on the internet. I didn’t star in a movie, I didn’t write a book, I didn’t change the world. Why someone would want my autograph is beyond me, but people do. Life has changed for me and things are moving quite fast now—and I’m beginning to realize: with high speed comes both good and bad.

Trust me on this though: I am not complaining. If that’s what the above rant about my inbox sounded like, I didn’t mean it. Not in any way. I absolutely love what I do, I love all of my students, and I appreciate the hell out of every single person that makes the effort to come practice with me.

I have a dream job, and a dream life (at least it is for me) and I count my blessings every single day. The point I’m trying to make is, I do feel stress. Sometimes none. Sometimes a whole lot. And the quality of my day goes up and down depending on the level of stress I allow into my life.

Note the word i chose there; “allow”. This is how I deal with all of this. I believe that we have a choice; I can choose to let stress affect my day, I can let it make me anxious, nervous, give me the feeling that no matter what I do I can’t keep up. Or—I can choose not to.

I only do my emails three times per week. Really. I’ll check up on stuff every now and then, if there is something urgent I need to take care of, but I really only do my emails three times per week. The other days of the week? I don’t let it bother me at all. It will mean people have to wait for me to get back to them and I’m sorry about that but I figure if it’s important, it will still be there in a few days.

If I had to do this every day there would be no joy in my life. My happiness comes first. Emails, business, work…not nearly as important.

Another way I stay sane? I do not allow any technology of any kind in the bedroom. No computer, no phones, no television. I want to start my day with a kiss from my boyfriend (or the dogs), not by staring into a screen. And ending the day with checking in on Instagram, then setting my alarm for the next morning? That would mean I start and end my day with my phone in my face. No bueno.

Take my advice here: let your bedroom be for sex and sleep and that alone. Make time for life to happen in between work and social media!

These two things: only checking my emails a few times a week and not allowing technology in the bedroom is what keeps my head from exploding and lets me have an enjoyable life that I love.

Just now, I was sitting in front of my computer, feeling stress creeping up around me (it’s what inspired this post, as a matter of fact) as I was answering my umpteenth email of the day. One particular email had me feeling especially stressed; something about “Here is a once in a lifetime opportunity to MAKE A LOT OF PROFIT THROUGH YOGA and you better work with us on this because if you don’t WE’LL GO ASK SOMEONE ELSE because this is REVOLUTIONARY”—the regular crap I get on the daily that comes down to just one thing: money.

You might have noticed by now; go to my Instagram, my Facebook page, my website…there aren’t a lot of commercials on there. As a matter of fact, there are none. You will never see “Use this code and get 20% off on these amazing super special yoga pants!!!” or “Buy this! I use it which means it’s awesome!” or “Click on this link and i will make money if you buy some stuff!!”

Never. I like to keep my space genuine. I might tell you about something that I absolutely love, simply because I want to share it with you. I’m not saying I will never work with endorsements or sponsorships, because sure, if it resonates with me on a deep level I might, but so far absolutely nothing has. I don’t want to represent 100 companies. I don’t want to sell you as much stuff as I possibly can. I don’t want this to be about money.

What I do want?

I want you to come to class. I want you to come to a retreat. I want to connect, to inspire, to create a space from where you can derive something that allows you to see the limitless potential that is inside you. I want you to follow my Instagram or like my Facebook page, sure, but not so I can push yoga pants down your throat. I want you to do that because it might make you feel good, or make you feel something, anything, because the words I write resonate with who you are. I want you to practice, to breathe, to love. There are no discount codes for that. I want you to see me in the street and I want you to hug me but not ask for a picture.

Do you see the difference?

What I meant to say is: stress is a choice. We allow it to affect us. When I was sitting in front of the computer just now, feeling the stress creeping up, I decided to stop. Before it took over. I looked around me. Where am I, really?

Right now. I’m home. Sitting on my couch. Dogs at my feet, my sister next to me playing Nintendo. A cup of tea on the coffee table. Ocean outside. Where is the stress right now? It’s not here, that’s for sure. There is no stress here. My mind creates the stress I feel—it doesn’t even come from my inbox. It comes from that little voice inside my head that tells me on repeat “you have to get this done”, “you have to hurry”, “you have to make things happen”.

Well, fact of the matter is…I don’t. I don’t have to do anything. I don’t even have to answer the emails in my inbox. Life will go on without it. I will still be ok. No disaster will come from me not writing 500 emails per day. (Actually, disaster might come if I do!)

I close my eyes. I take a few breaths. By directing my attention away from what’s occupying my mind and towards my physical experience of this moment I choose to not allow stress to take over my wellbeing. I put my computer away and I spend five minutes cuddling with Ringo (coziest Italian Greyhound you’ll ever meet), or I go for a walk. I might roll out my yoga mat. Or read a book. Listen to a song I love. Eat something delicious. I take five minutes to direct my attention back to what’s important.

This, right here.

Tea and family and puppies and breath and life. Not computers or smartphones.

When I turn my computer back on, I feel different. I no longer have the urge to hit “select all” and drag my entire inbox to the spam folder. I see instead how remarkable this all is! So many people reaching out. Everybody just wants to be loved; be it through money, or success, or finding a yoga practice that works for who you are. I can’t help them all, but I can help some.

I answer an email from a woman asking how to deal with stress, she works in finance and doesn’t have enough hours in her day. She is losing her hair from stress and can’t find a way to slow down. You live such a perfect, serene life she says, maybe you can help?

I write her back; hold on, I’ll post something on the blog.

Here you go.

This post has been adapted from the original which can be found here.


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 Ed: Bryonie Wise


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