The city that never sleeps
Foreigners love Moscow because it is a high energy city. The 14th biggest city in the world literally never stops. Supermarkets, restaurants, gyms are all open 24/7. But it’s not only the size and infrastructure of Moscow that make it a high energy city. The atmosphere created by the Muscovites themselves ads a special kind of vibe to the big city buzz. Muscovites are colorful, extravagant, energetic, entrepreneurial and a little crazy. You need to be a little crazy to survive here.
Short-term and long-term Moscow
Short-term, Moscow gives you a rush and energizes you. When you stay in Moscow for a longer period of time however, you get to see the flipside of this energizing buzz. Moscow is always changing; in constant flux. Moscow is unpredictable and offers no guarantees. Whoever you are, whatever you do, wherever you live, whatever you own; it all may change radically from one day to the other. On a practical daily basis Moscow is safe but in the long-run and deep down most Muscovites feel unsafe. And that is because in the long-run, Moscow is unsafe. Moscow can lift you up, but if you don’t pay attention, you run the risk that Moscow swallows you up and spits you out. And when Moscow starts to swallow you up, stress is the inevitable result. During the 25 years I have lived in Russia, I have lost and built up my businesses five times. Two times I was defrauded out of substantial amounts of money. I was arrested three times and put in a holding cell twice (the third time I used the experience of the previous two arrests to keep myself out of jail). Three times my dacha and land were threatened to be taken away from me. Only in the last year I was assaulted twice, leading to old fashioned fist-fights in a restaurant and a supermarket. And the list goes on and on. For the average European, this is quite extreme but for the average Russian, such a list of life-events is nothing out of the ordinary. Do Russians experience stress because of this unsafety? Yes, they do, just like Europeans would if they lived in such an environment. The only difference is that when you live long enough in such an unpredictable environment you become desensitized and your resilience to stress increases. But in the end, there’s no hiding from long-term stress in Russia.
How to deal with stress?
Because of this long-term stress my Russian friends regularly ask me how I deal with it. I answer them with these 7 tools I use to reduce stress:
• First of all, slow down and take a step back. Do this regularly as it will make you more aware. When your awareness increases, your understanding increases and your acceptance (of the outside circumstances) increases. When you accept more, you can let go more easily. When you let go, your stress decreases.
• A second tool is self-love and self-acceptance (this is a difficult for many people, myself included). Just regard yourself positively. Give yourself a break. Look at yourself like you would look at your 7-year-old self. You wouldn’t judge your 7-year-old self, would you?
• A third one is setting creative or useful but achievable aims for each day. Do not include your daily chores in these aims. They should be positive and not ordinary aims like: writing a friend a real paper letter, or paint something, or meditate on a topic, or write that blog or finish part of that online course you started or anything else like that. Any activity that has a value for you that goes beyond the daily household chores or work chores will do. Important is that the aim you define is achievable in a few hours’ time so that even if your whole day got messed up you can still sit down at eight pm and just do it before bedtime and still feel fulfilled before going to sleep.
• A fourth valuable tool is connecting with deep time and deep energy (follow to link below to see the reading on deep time and deep energy). Facebook LinkedIn
• Fifth. During the entire day make sure you breathe from the belly and not the chest. Take moments of just a minute or two to breathe deeply from the belly. Focus at breathing in.
• A sixth and practical tool is physical self-awareness. Watch your voice and gestures. Stick to calm gestures and a relaxed, low voice.
• Last but not least, make sure you exercise regularly. Anything beyond 20 minutes will do. Running, yoga, stretching, making love. On second thought, maybe start with this last activity;-)
Have a great stress less week!