A crash course from the Queen of Stress.
Presenting: the latest dispatch from Sharon Ainsberg, the fabulous co-founder of Sho + Co, a boutique NYC agency that focuses on celebrity and influencer initiatives—she also has years of experience in music and fashion. In case you missed it, she last shared all the qualities that make a really, really, ridiculously good leader, and this month she’s helping us manage stress. Because TBH, after fashion month, we could really use it.
I, like you, am only human. The good comes with the bad in one big bouillabaisse of personality, and that’s what makes each of us unique. One of my least favorite “afflictions” is that I am just not the most adept at managing stress. A less diplomatic way to put it is that I categorically suck at it.
Some people find my penchant for hyperbole and my spastic reactions, which go from 0-60 in less than a minute, sorta charming. I won’t name any of those people, but I know they’re out there. Maybe my dear friend Lyle is one, who worked for me for several years and used to proactively warn other staffers, “She has the police tape up today. DO NOT CROSS.”
If you research the effects of stress on physical and mental health, you’ll be barraged with frightening examples: stress causes heart attacks, cancer, acne, anxiety, hair loss, depression, weight gain, weight loss…need I continue?
WebMD puts it succinctly: “Everyone has different stress triggers. Work stress tops the list, according to surveys. Forty percent of U.S. workers admit to experiencing office stress, and one-quarter say work is the biggest stress in their lives.”
Fashion is a particularly crazy business to work in, and induces undue stress daily. For example, if that A-list celebrity who promised to come to your fashion show has now dropped out due to a change in schedule, I recognize that this occurrence should be treated with the same sense of urgency as say, a heart transplant or finding a solution to world hunger. And aside from our work (as if work isn’t enough), we have life stresses—death all around us, the health of ourselves and loved ones, money, fears and insecurities about a multitude of life occurrences, all of which we cannot control.
Over the last 24 hours, my daily presidential-election-stress has been temporarily overtaken by my fear-of-LA-earthquake stress. Now, I can actually hear you saying this as I type: “Ok, this chick they’ve got writing for Coveteur is completely mental.” But I’ve got scientific backup…so shut your traps.
Needless to say, as an award-worthy control freak, I have Googled the shit out of this topic as I sit in this City of Angels. I’m so obsessed in fact, I’d consider going back to school to get a degree in Seismology (with minors in Shark Biology and Aircraft Accident Investigation, naturally).
Now, regardless of if you are a bonafide worrier like me or a relatively chill, take-it-as-it-comes, rose-colored-glasses type of creature (which is so annoying), stress is a basic part of life—it WILL affect you and it’s worth giving it a swift boot to the ass whenever and however you can.
Here are a few steps I’ve personally taken to relieve stress, and I must say, earthquakes, sharks and airplane crashes aside, my overall management of my stress triggers has proven them to be a marked success.
This has changed my world, people. I meditate twice a day for twenty minutes, which I know sounds impossible to “fit in” in our non-stop lives, but I’m here to tell you, it is life-altering and so easy—you won’t believe it. No more insomnia, no more afternoon “crashes.” I have more energy and feel more centered, relaxed and focused every day. If I miss even one meditation, I feel the difference—which only makes me want to commit to it even more. I personally practice TM (Transcendental Meditation) and if you’re interested, I recommend checking out The David Lynch Foundation.
Savasana (sha-va-sa-nah) (Corpse Pose)
Yoga is commonly defined as “the cessation of the fluctuations of the mind.” Even if you do not practice yoga and it feels foreign to you, this restorative pose is unquestionably for everyone. Give yourself 10 minutes a day to lie down on a yoga mat or towel, palms and arms a few inches from your sides, facing upwards. Allow your feet to fall open naturally about hip distance apart. Close your eyes, and allow your breath to slow. If you concentrate on one thing, let it be each part of your body from your head to your toes, relaxing and sinking into the mat. Just ten minutes of this per day is one of the most powerful stress relievers I have ever experienced.
I mean, Dr. Ainsberg over here. Duh. We know this is a given, tried and true. The more you amp up those Elle Woods endorphins, the happier you will feel and the more you will alleviate the worries of the day. Now, if you are someone who nurses injuries (back, knee, shoulder, what have you) the best thing to do is speak to your doc and find out what you can do to exercise without hurting yourself. Because guess what, hurting yourself will cause more stress. I am a big believer in spinal health as part of one’s overall happiness and for stress relief, since our backs carry the lion’s share of our burdens, both physical and emotional. Pilates and yoga are exceptional for spine strengthening, can be done at home (once you are educated in the exercises best for your body) and just 10-20 minutes a day can relieve tightness and create a sense of calm in the body and mind. My favorites in New York are Yoga Vida, and New York Pilates.
Let me tell you something, whoever coined the phrase “take a deep breath” in order to talk someone off a ledge should get a medal or a big-ass hug or something. I have been taking three long, slow deep breaths in a row once or twice a day for the last several months, just to try to regroup if I’m having a wacky day or whenever I’m having a “moment” (i.e. the police tape is up). I am always surprised by the immediacy of my shift of mindset. This one is absolutely fabulous for the people who think tackling any of the above is entirely impossible. If you have lungs, you can nail this one.
Do a Cleanse
I am absolutely convinced that I just stressed you out saying this. But believe it or not, I cannot tell you the effect a detox has on my stress management, even if I only do one per year. There are so many to choose from, but I am a fan of Dr. Frank Lipman’s cleanse, mostly because the effect it has on me is remarkable in body, mind and spirit. I sleep like a baby and my mood is at an all-time high. I assume I will be sluggish, stressed out, antsy and all-around pissy; but instead I am always relaxed, glowing and energized. Whatever you decide to do here, I’ll tell you that doing a “reboot” once or twice a year has been my favorite way to destress and detoxify. If you don’t feel like doing an actual regimented cleanse, just knock out what nutritionists call the “big five” for two weeks and see how you feel. The big five are: gluten, dairy, sugar (this one hurts), caffeine (this one hurts a lot more) and alcohol (you can say it: Go f*** yourself, Ainsberg).
I’ll leave you with a few of my favorite songs to chill to. I recommend lying down, turning the volume way up, closing your eyes and just letting yourself get swept off by these melodic winners right here:
Inside of Love by Nada Surf
Heartbeats by José Gonzalez
Summer Was A Day by Pete Yorn
The Thrill by Miguel
Different Stars by Trespassers William
If all else fails, I recommend retail therapy.