Nicole and Marina talk to Danielle Ryan, a registered Yoga teacher and mindset coach from Ontario Canada.
Danielle is a multi-passionate twenty-something whose mission in life is to help to improve the lives of millennial women everywhere through the workings of the mind, body, and soul. She has created space for people to confront the stress & anxiety of day-to-day life in order to foster the confidence they need to build a life they love.
You can find Danielle on Instagram here and in her membership program, Soul Society, designed for millennial women looking to find purpose while living a life they love, using the power of their mind, body, & soul. You can also listen to her podcast, Adulting 101, here.
Thank you to Serena from Get Me Out Of This Job for sponsoring this episode. Learn more about Get Me Out of This Job here and follow on Instagram here. Mention GenTwenty and get 10% off your coaching package.
This transcript has been gently edited for clarity.
Nicole Booz: Welcome back to the GenTwenty Podcast I’m Nicole…
Marina Crouse: And I’m Marina! Today we’re talking about stress relief with Danielle Ryan, a registered yoga teacher and mindset coach from Ontario, Canada. Danielle is a multi-passionate twenty-something whose mission in life is to help to improve the lives of millennial women everywhere through the workings of the mind body and soul.
She has created space for people to confront the stress and anxiety of day-to-day life in order to foster the confidence they need to build the life they love. Danielle, we’d love to hear about how you got started in the space!
Danielle Ryan: Hi all, thank you so much for having me I’m so excited to be here. I’d love to share my story. I think it’s a little bit unconventional I suppose and it might be a bit of a novel so I’ll try to be as succinct as possible. But basically about, I guess 6 years ago now, I found myself in a desk job and I was working in municipal government.
So I was working for a city and I found myself as an administrator hoping that I could transfer into a more hands-on role because at that time my educational background was actually in environmental studies and I wanted to be frolicking in the fields collecting water samples and doing that kind of thing. But the way that the union was structured within the place I was working didn’t really allow for that opportunity. If you were an inside worker you stayed inside, so when job opportunities came up I kept getting passed up for people that were in the correct union.
So ultimately I found myself in this place where I felt really stuck and I felt really sad and I would be like dragging my butt to work every day and so as a result of that I actually started my own podcast and this was back in 2017, so over 4 years ago now, and that was sort of just a means to have something interesting to do I would literally sit in my car on my lunch breaks and record the episodes.
I sort of just wanted to share advice with people about the experience I was going through and hope that they could relate to it because I’ve always found myself in this position where I’ve been like the advice giver I don’t know if either of you can relate to that but like within my circle of friends people are always asking me like “what should I do about this? What should I do about that?” And I’ve always loved anything on the internet.
So I decided to give it a shot and it sort of spiraled from there so that really opened me into the world of you know the online space, online businesses, entrepreneurship, and all of that and the town that I was living in at the time had this contest where we could pitch a business idea and they would pay our rent for a year in a space in the downtown core which was really cool.
So I put a business plan together for a yoga studio and sort of a coaching practice and I made it into the final 3 positions. Ultimately I didn’t win but that sort of sparked the idea to be like okay this is actually something that I could do and so I decided on a bit of a whim I guess based on the fact that I had been so envious of all my friends from university who had gone off and become yoga teachers thinking like oh that would be so cool to do one day but I’m never going to be able to do that because I’m stuck here at my job.
So I decided essentially to book my yoga teacher training and resigned from my job a month later. I got a part time job waitressing just so I could supplement my income while I figured out this whole like starting a business thing. I basically took the business plan I had from that contest and turned it into a mobile service.
I would just drive to people’s houses offer them yoga, and then again that was three years ago now. Since then my partner and I have bought a house and we converted part of it into a yoga studio and an online community. I still offer those mobile classes but it’s definitely been a journey getting from this place of being sad and stuck and stressed into sort of finding a way to create my life by design.
Nicole Booz: That’s amazing. I love it. The thing that really just stood out to me is how you pivoted to move around instead of just being in one place. I think that was an incredible change that you made.
Danielle Ryan: Thank you. Yeah, it was definitely eye-opening to have that experience of like wow I really could own my own business. So how can I make this work even if they’re not gonna you know, give me free rent for a year?
Marina Crouse: Yeah I relate to your path as lot as well, based on just how I got into doing what I’m doing, but I know that it’s not a smooth ride. It’s very hard to make those decisions and take the leaps of faith. The obvious question I want to ask you is why is stress relief so important, and how did you incorporate what you do with stress relief while you were just getting started?
Danielle Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. I think that regardless of whether you’re an entrepreneur or you’re just a person with a regular job stress is inevitable. We all have it in our lives. But what a lot of us don’t really have is healthy coping mechanisms and I’ve learned this just from my own experience and I see it a lot with my coaching clients.
We have lots of commitments whether it’s in our personal life, our careers, whatever that is and our schedule tends to keep us feeling stressed out like there’s always things we need to be doing. We forgot to do them, we have to do them tomorrow, whatever that looks like and I find that there’s usually two things that happen.
We either don’t address it and we pretend that the problems don’t exist, so we just do avoidance and you know hope that tomorrow’s a better day, or we neglect the problem by continuing to add to the stress. I know, especially in the infancy of my business, I was notorious notorious for this. I wouldn’t have time to do something but then I would commit to doing five more things so I’m just distracting myself from the fact that I don’t have time to do the first thing by committing to this other thing and I’m sure that both of you can probably relate to this in your life. This is a very common. Yeah, and so stress relief becomes imperative at this point because.
Marina Crouse: Man that, yeah, that sounds really familiar.
Danielle Ryan: In order for us to be able to effectively show up in our businesses or in our careers or in our relationships and to be able to do so wholeheartedly where we’re actually giving to other people we need to have an outlet and a way to let some of those things go that are causing us that stress. So that we can be present because ultimately if we continue to either avoid or stack our stress. We’re going to end up sort of five steps behind where we actually want to be if that makes sense.
Nicole Booz: Absolutely absolutely. I think especially for me personally I have a lot of you know ideas and things that I want to do and I don’t necessarily think that I always just start new things to replace other things. What I tend to do is outsource the first thing a lot so I can do something else.
Danielle Ryan: “This is boring now I’m just going to pass it off to my associate.”
Nicole Booz: Yeah, that’s kind of what I do but to me that’s like how I guess deal with stress is that I outsource things to someone that I find trustful. I don’t know if that’s a healthy way to cope or not.
Danielle Ryan: I think if that thing is no longer serving you for the purpose that you wanted it to in the first place then there’s no harm in letting it go to someone else who can better execute it.
Because similarly with stress I think that there’s also this sort of importance to recognize when our heart is no longer in something. I think that if we can also learn to normalize changing our minds and understanding that like okay this sounded cool and I was interested in it for a day/a month/ a year but now I’m not into it anymore. I think that’s okay, too. That’s sort of part of stress relief really because it’s allowing ourselves that space to be like yeah. I’ll try again later.
Nicole Booz: Yeah I think the letting go is really important personally.
Marina Crouse: And I think as a society we hold on tight real tight to things that we don’t need to because it’s about control. Like “okay if I can hold on to everything, I’m not stressed, I’m managing,” but clearly the tighter you hold on to things like more stressful it becomes. I know that’s what I do.
I have a lot of post-it notes everywhere and one of my friends who is a clutter coach, she was like “you know you could just throw those post-it notes away” and I was like, “huh, then I could write a new to-do list” and she was like no, you can just do less and focus on what you really want to work on.
But it’s hard. I think stress really feels like it has to be a big thing sometimes but you can do it. You can manage it in really small ways right? Like day to day.
Danielle Ryan: Oh absolutely. So actually it’s funny. You say this with your friend telling you to like throw everything away because I often do this exercise both with myself and with clients and it’s just essentially like a very small audit.
So if I’m feeling really stressed out I’ll literally just sit wherever, at my desk or my computer, and I’ll ask myself, “Okay, what is causing me stress?” First of all, what is it? Is my schedule too full? Do I have too many commitments? Is it this one particular project I’m working on? What is causing me stress and why and how would it feel for me to feel the opposite.”
So right now I’m really stressed. What would the opposite of that feel? And what is going to be the thing that bridges that gap? How can I get from feeling so stressed to feeling euphoric happy carefree whatever that is what do I need to let go of or what do I need less of or what can I shift my focus to more, so maybe instead of focusing on how difficult this project is that I’m working on, I’ll switch focus to the easy parts of the project that I can knock off the list to sort of relieve some of that stress if that makes sense.
Nicole Booz: That definitely makes sense.
Danielle Ryan: It’s really just sort of this exercise of awareness I guess because a lot of the times we’re stressed out and we don’t know why but we don’t take the time to ask ourselves. What is it? Why do I feel this way?
Nicole Booz: Yeah, that’s a really really fair point, I think. So do you do any exercises where you check in with yourself once a week, or once a day, or something along those lines?
Danielle Ryan: Yeah, so typically for me I try to do this at the beginning of the week, schedule permitting, where I’ll be like okay, what are my priorities for the week how does my schedule look do these two things align? Is the way I plan to spend my time in alignment with things I actually want to accomplish this week? And if there’s sort of a disconnect there then it’s like okay I’m going to be stressed out by Friday if I don’t figure this out right now.
Nicole Booz: That’s so true. I think a lot of that kind of leads to burnout for a lot of people. So what advice would you give to someone who feels burnout in their job/ relationships/life…that kind of thing?
Danielle Ryan: For sure. I think ultimately it comes down to allowing yourself the space to evaluate again. We tend to live on autopilot where we’re just like “okay these are the things, I’m doing them and let’s go” and we forget or we get so focused on the doing that we forget about being. So obviously me, I’m a yoga teacher, so I always say yoga, meditation I like to use those as tools but I know that those aren’t for everyone.
Not everyone loves yoga. Not everyone wants to sit around and meditate and so I guess what I would encourage people to recognize is that it doesn’t have to be this long drawn-out practice. You don’t need to commit to an hour of your day doing yoga or whatever it is. When I’m working with clients and they tell me that they’re feeling really stressed I literally tell them to pull out their cell phone set a timer for two minutes. That’s all you need.
Close your eyes come to your breath and just ask yourself: How do I feel in my physical body? How do I feel emotionally? What am I feeling and more importantly, where am I feeling it? Because what a lot of people don’t realize is that stress tends to ruminate in specific parts of our body. So through cultivating this sense of awareness and doing this little mini evaluation, we can start to come back to what the cause of our stress really is,
But we need to allow ourselves the time to create that space because when we’re so burnt out or we’re on the brink of burnout, we think we don’t have time for anything. But I think everyone can make two minutes of their day to set it aside and just ask myself “Okay, what’s really going on for me right now?”
Marina Crouse: I love that and absolutely we have two minutes a day to do that. But you know what I was thinking? We are kind of like you were saying on autopilot. We’re a very stressed out society and I wonder if people even know what an unstressed life looks like? How does stress affect our ability to see clearly and build the life we want to live?
Danielle Ryan: Yes, That’s such an important conversation to have because I think stress can play two really important roles in our life. Stress can be good when it challenges us to sort of push our boundaries or overcome new obstacles trying new things sort of that sense, but long-term stress like you’re saying when you’re constantly stressed out, you don’t even know that you’re stressed at this point because that’s all you’ve ever known, can actually have really negative chronic implications.
So whether that’s physical health problems, emotional health problems, it can sort of present itself differently in different people. If we think back to more primitive times say like thousands of years ago, stress was actually designed to protect us so we constantly were living in this place of like a predator is going to come eat me while I’m sleeping and so that’s sort of translated now into our lives whether it’s in our careers, our relationships…where we’re continuously living in this heightened state of where there’s no off switch.
I’m constantly thinking about all of the things I have to do right until I fall asleep and then as soon as I wake up I’m thinking about it again. I can’t slow down. And all we can think about is this stress which in turn just perpetuates itself over and over again. It gets worse and worse, so we lose sight of our desires if we’re constantly focused on why we’re stressed or what we need to do today tomorrow the next day. And so that’s why it’s so important to come back to these tools like the one I just mentioned where all you need is two minutes you need to think about “why am I so stressed.”
But also ask “what do I want for my life” because we get so caught up in the day-to-day of constantly being stressed that we forget that we actually have that power to decide. “You know what? I’m gonna let go of this project I was working on” or “I’m gonna not worry about this this week, maybe I’ll try it again next week if I have more time in my schedule.” Ultimately, it’s up to us to decide that if. I’m trying to create life x y z whatever that looks like whatever my big dream is I have the power to pull the control back to create that and make that my reality.
Marina Crouse: And I think that’s so powerful and it’s funny how we try to hold such tight control on our day-to-day life that we forget that we have the power to change things.
Before the pandemic I had dreamed of being my own boss and just never took the leap and then when I was forced to reevaluate my life because I lost my job and left my apartment and moved home, I realized “oh I don’t want to go back to that traditional nine to five. I want to pursue what I’m really passionate about” This pandemic that’s going to last “a couple weeks” is going to be the time I tested out and I think that was a huge turning point for me to realize I really can make the choices to build the life I want but it was really eye opening.
It’s still eye opening to this day where I’m trying to manage stress day to day just because I am so used to burning myself out because that’s what we’re trained to do so I think that’s what you’re saying is so powerful.
Danielle Ryan: Yeah, and isn’t that funny that we sometimes need that sort of external pressure or turning point to make us recognize that like hey all these things that I’m doing aren’t even the things I want to be doing. And it’s hard for us to come to that conclusion on our own.
So It’s almost as if we’re… I don’t want to say self-deprecating but we’re creating this space for ourselves to not feel good about the life we’re creating and we’re too afraid to do anything about it until someone on the outside is like “hey actually you’re fired” or this tragic thing is happening in your life. We need this sort of pivotal moment to recognize like “hey I didn’t want that stress anyway.”
Marina Crouse: Yeah, so we have a lot to think about, but it’s it’s comforting to know that we really do have the power to make changes and make these choices. Is this something that you talk a lot about on your podcast Danielle?
Danielle Ryan: Yeah, it’s definitely been a topic of discussion. We talk about stress in not so much as a holistic topic more so stress in specific areas. So, how to handle pressure we feel in relationships or how to let go of that stress that we feel, or pressure we feel to follow what society has said is the right thing to do.
And I sort of like to explore all different aspects of our lives especially as millennials to sort of create this more holistic approach versus just like stress itself is just a very big umbrella term and there’s so many aspects of it. So I try to break it down into more manageable chunks so that listeners can really recognize “okay I’m feeling stressed in my relationships” or “I’m feeling stress in my career or my personal life” and sort of pick and choose what advice they need for that week.
Marina Crouse: Can you tell us the name of your podcast and where everyone can find you?
Danielle Ryan: Yeah, absolutely. My podcast is called Adulting 101 and it’s available on all major podcasting platforms wherever you listen. I spend most of my time on the internet on Instagram so that’s at @lifestylebydesignstudio. I share lots of helpful journaling tips again things that help with stress management and all of that on there.
Nicole Booz: We love that. Thank you so much for joining us today. We’re so honored to have you on and to talk about stress relief and to provide some really actionable tips.
Danielle Ryan: Thank you so much for sharing this space with me and I look forward to connecting with you again soon. Bye.