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3 Steps to Transform Stress

3 Steps to Transform Stress

The way of the heart is the way of courage.
It is to live in insecurity,
to live in love and trust,
to move into the unknown.

— Osho

Stress, the Monday morning killer. You might have heard about those crazy people who claim to thrive on stress, but for most of us, stress is a royal pain in the ass. It can be all-consuming, debilitating to the mind and body. Typically we do whatever we can to avoid it. Have another drink. Watch another movie. Doomscroll the hours away in bed. Have sex. Or a fourth cup of coffee. Short-term jolts of pleasure and long term agitating, nagging pain. 

For most of us, stress is uncomfortable and so we keep finding ways to distract ourselves to numb the unpleasant sensations.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Last February, I got a surprising text message. I called back and my Director of Private events was on the line, utterly confused by a recent email. The Game Developers Conference was being canceled. Canceled?! How was this even possible? This was like the Super Bowl being canceled. Before we had a chance to sort out what this would mean for our Yerba Buena Gardens restaurant, which typically hosts any number of high-end, specialty events for conferences like this, it happened again. One after another, conferences out.

Why? People were concerned that this new virus threat from abroad — which we heard was now ravaging Italy — was predicted to impact us. There were no cases in SF, but that didn’t matter. The virus was coming.

Like pretty much everyone else in the Bay Area, and across the globe, my world got rocked.

In my 49 years of life, I’ve never experienced anything like this new intensity of stress. With everybody on heightened alert, we pivoted the business 180-degrees, 18 different times. Curbside pickup. Meal delivery. Farmer’s market baskets. Delivery for urgent care workers. Toilet paper. Bottles of wine. Face masks. Coffee. Heck, we even developed breakfast, lunch, and dinner subscription meal plans. I’m still blown away by our team’s ability to adapt and deliver. With a smile. And, also by our customer’s show of appreciation and support.

The highlight from this period was probably watching the lines of grateful San Franciscans lining up at our cafes on Valencia Street and Fillmore Street for the “Samovar Cares Lunchbox” including a bowl of Jook (savory rice stew) and a cup of turmeric tea — offered completely free as our act of local support. All told, we served more than 5,000 completely free meals to the deserving citizens and support workers in San Francisco.

But nothing broke my heart more than Monday morning, July 20, the first day of Samovar’s cafe and restaurant hibernation. With cases skyrocketing in San Francisco, closing up shop until the situation improved was the right thing to do.

So, when I’m called on to dig deeper — whether I’m thrown into chaotic situations or juggling too many balls, or forced to adapt on the fly, again and again — I’ve learned to rely on a variety of strategies that help me stay calm, maintain a clear head, and use stress to become more productive and more present.

3 Steps to Transform Stress

Step 1 — Name Your Emotion.

Our culture isn’t good at identifying feelings. Especially for men, we often don’t even have a vocabulary for describing feelings. This is a big topic in it’s own right, and I encourage you to explore the work of