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How to manage stress

By | Blog | 927 Comments

How many of you have gone through a stressful situation? Do you think we can avoid stress?

No matter how good or bad persons we are, stress is unavoidable. One thing we can do though is change the way we respond to stress. Today, I would like to present to you few situations where I personally felt disconcerted and how I am learning today to domesticate this beast well-known under stress.


As far as I remember, I encountered stress for the first time in 2nd grade while performing a poem recital. My heart was pounding fast, my hands were shaking and my voice stemming, stuttering to the point I could barely speak. After that first experience, I felt anxious with my own body being out of control every time I had to do a recital. In order to limit embarrassment, I learned all poems by heart. The way it worked back then is if you don’t recite your poem correctly, not only you get a bad mark, but also you are publicly humiliated and pointed out to the corner. This type of educational approach put a lot of pressure on my younger self and somehow shaped my relationship with the beast (I hated stress to the point I would do anything to stay away from it). As a teenager, I was smart enough to avoid situations that caused such discomfort. Over the years, I built up my little comfort zone that I very much liked and enjoyed until the day I decided to study abroad! I think I was unconscious at that time but in retrospection did the right thing.

Moving to Canada turned into a dreadful situation the day I realized all points of reference were gone. I was left with no one except this beast that somehow found a way to sneak into my suitcase and chase me in my new home. Here I am, having to step out of my cozy comfort zone to build new relationships and familiarize with a new culture, a different educational system along with regulations and ethics.  As a matter of fact, the integration was easier to manage than expected since I ended up evolving within an international student environment and many people were going through the same situation, which was pretty heart-warming.

Next, I entered the workforce and had a very critical, angry boss, a man who would walk in each day and immediately begin to find fault with everything I did. I was becoming a nervous wreck, feeling inadequate and shameful, as well as developing a real bitterness toward him. My self confidence and self-esteem were at their lowest and I wanted to leave, but jobs were scarce and I had financial commitments. Moreover around the same time, my girlfriend broke up with me so I had to find a new place. So imagine this happening to you at the same time: job dissatisfaction, financial difficulties, break up and moving out. I think these are at the top of the list of known stressors for westerners. At that point, my mental and physical health deteriorated and I was going through one of the toughest if not the worst moment of my life, the bottom of the bottom (as I call it). I was in deep despair and didn’t know what to do except to lean in and let go. Meanwhile, I started looking for ways to calm my parasympathetic system and lower my cortisol level, cortisol being the hormone released in response to a fight or flight situation. As such, I came across two ancient wisdom approaches: mindfulness and meditation which supported me to overcome these roadblocks, reestablishing a strong and unshakable foundation by living one breath at a time.


In summary, I believe we can change the way we manage stress. There is a way to turn this beast into a docile creature. The way I personally go about it today is whenever I go through a stressful situation, I would ask myself :

1. “Do I have to believe all my thoughts?”

2. ”What’s the most important thing in my life at this very moment?”

These two questions help me put things into perspective and make my fuse longer. In other words, I learn to smile at stress, make it my friend and my ally. I would like to leave you on this note: “not all snakes are dangerous”! Our beliefs color our thought, word, and action. So let’s choose them carefully.


How to be mindful when reading emails

By | Blog | 921 Comments

When reading your emails, posts and text messages: do you let your mind being attached to words and content? Do you feel the essence of them with neutrality/objectivity and empathy? What’s your common reaction? I perfectly recall a time when I was sitting in my office struggling with e-mails, because of my busy mind, and hearing my own internal voice judging several communications I was involved into. This led me to a feeling of boredom, tiredness and preoccupation, with very little time for myself. I also detested, the so-called “late reply”; as if it has an expiration date on the e-mail’s time to respond. If I didn’t reply to the e-mail promptly, I felt guilty. If not the other will make me feel so. I quickly understood that it created unnecessary stress, to which I had 1/2 solution: proper management of e-mails, in term of time BUT what about the noise on productivity and health? Attachment to story and words can lead to unhealthy relationships not only with others, but also with ourselves.

Let’s take a few reactive patterns of human behaviors:

1. You send out a message to a friend via Facebook. Since you saw at what time it was “seen”, you are right away expecting a reply. If the person do not reply in a short period of time, you start wondering. What’s going on?

2. “An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth” mindset. Someone takes time to reply to your message, you simply decide to not put a priority on their message, thinking it’s the right way to behave because this person does it, so if you ever have to discuss this issue, you will know what to say; thus, will not feel guilty because you are not the one who has started this.

3. You are reading and re-reading words, and call upon your colleagues and friends to ask for their opinions about a message you have received, especially if the content is not what you wanted to “hear”. Looking for an external approval is a ground to feel secure.

4. A person is telling you they read your message but did not reply right away because they got caught into something else. Worse, you get offended and you apply the pattern #2 and perhaps the #3. Also, go outside your office to tell your colleagues what happened or call a friend or simple can’t work because you are simply stuck with a “not nice” feeling about the sender, and you need to go to a meeting in a few minutes.

I listed here some of the most common behaviors I recalled witnessing. All of them are tagged as a misunderstanding or misreading; rarely read with a full acceptance of true communication, which often leads to a lot of unnecessary noise. Here, I chose the word noise, for it’s exactitude; like an external sound that annoys our nervous system, and makes us react, the internal voice has the same affect on our body. If you are not listening to it, your body is.

Noise. Hearing. Priority. Time. Wondering. These are words, which refer to our own senses, and redirect to our own reactions of sometime fear. To communicate with a total acceptance of our true selves takes time, but is a beautiful art to cultivate. Awareness, mindfulness, paying attention to your communications certainly bring a total shift into the way you are reading e-mails, texts, or even letters. Having a higher purpose in life, developing compassion, cultivating empathy and a fresh mind, will bring clarity to your moment and most probably will help you refocus on the bigger picture – Regardless of the message nature, content and tone, be more confident with humankind and your myself, to better communicate ”what is” in a proper form, with empathy – the art of a lost form: compassion.

Here are some tips:

STOP! Breathe into the situation, observe, and let go of thoughts with kindness

Smile as it might come back, and move on. Forget about perfection here, and your perception of right or wrong, because the opposite of what we think is also true. Let’s put aside the « an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth » mindset, become mindful and aware of the attitude causing blockage in our body, while losing our ground.

When faced with a “you said so”or “so I read” attitude, remember that our being is designed to hear without having someone saying words

Computer screen is a good test to see if we can, don’t you think? While, words play a major role in our society, when reading an e-mail, a text or a letter we are alone with no one to blame, because we are alone with our thoughts, perceptions, fears, feelings, and noise.

Time is precious, smile every time you catch yourself, and accept that everyone gets caught into this nowadays

You don’t have to know what’s really going on with one person to understand human behaviors. It takes you to come back to a neutral place, have confidence in humankind, and your own kindness; life is perfect the way it is to make you grow, reconnect to the truth and develop compassion or resilience. Everyone is trying to be happy and move forward into their life.

It takes proper training, and not all of us have it; even, when we think we have it, we still need to practice it. So take your time to practice, and let the resistance caused by a few mentioned mechanisms aside, you will see how your breath will flow easily. Touching the real feeling of what is hidden inside of us might be a very difficult place to stand, but the more we turn inward looking at what causes a certain feeling, the more we get to know who we are, and how to dance with it. Thus, the more training we get, the more dancing with complete awareness becomes easy. Remember these questions when engaging in a speech: Is it worth saying? Is it necessary? Is it true?