Now that the period of summer vacations is ending here in Brazil, it is a good idea to revise some aspects of your daily life to make sure it is satisfactory enough for you not to have to live just for the vacations.
This is especially important if you reside in a huge and busy city such as São Paulo. Whether moving to a big city as a newcomer or returning to the concrete jungle after vacations, the contrast between the relaxing settings you might have been experiencing before and the reality of the mega city can be challenging. The city seems to knock you down with its accelerated pace, big crowds, lack of space, privacy and air. So how to deal with it? Or get your rhythm back without suffering too much?
Here are a few tips and tricks that I have learnt living in São Paulo to make the day-to-day as painless and as enjoyable as possible. Anyone and everyone can easily copy these and see the difference they make almost instantly!
- Get immersed in your neighborhood!
This is a tip that has made a real, most substantial difference in my life in São Paulo. So here it goes:
Once you have settled down in a place that has the best price-quality relationship for you, it is time to get local. And I mean really local! Get your tennis shoes out and take long walks around your neighborhood whenever you can. Try out small local cafes, restaurants, bars and businesses. Talk to people and try to get recommendations on where the best coffee is served, who sells the cheapest towels, where to get your shoes repaired and when the best time is to pick up fresh fish.
Once you find your preferred places for most errands and activities of your daily life from working out to buying beautiful shoes or having the best juice in town that are all comfortably within a 20-minute walking distance, you can finally say you have made it in São Paulo.
Managing to do everything you need in your own neighborhood will dramatically decrease your stress levels, save time and create connections. All of which makes you feel more efficient, successful and secure, maybe even more welcome, as people in your neighborhood start to recognize and trust you more.
- Work out!
This is an obvious one that works for most situations in life. Exercise is not only good for your overall health but helps to clear your head, releases endorphins (read: makes you happier), even helps you eat and sleep better, which all, in turn, help to reduce stress and anxiety. The latter two, unfortunately, go together with living in a huge bustling city like bread and butter and are much more common than most of us would like to admit.
Therefore, whatever your sport or form of movement, just go for it. At least twice a week to make it count.
- Do not just train the body, shape your mind too!
Even though your daily job might be mentally strenuous, your brain still needs different kinds of exercise to keep you healthy and balanced. Relaxation and positivity do not always come naturally if you have stressful obligations or are just struggling to adapt to a new environment. You can take this matter to your own hands, though, by training your mind to stay calm and happy. Here you can find a few (but not all) ways how to do that:
- Learn meditation and breathing exercises and practice them daily. You will be amazed to find how helpful these tools can be.
- Do not give up on learning the local language. Even though at times it might seem just too much to cope with all at once, your brain is actually absorbing impressive amounts of information and will let you see and use it when it is done processing.
- Play around and practice your creativity. Everything from painting, to playing games or designing you dream house goes. As Einstein put it: “Creativity is intelligence having fun.”
- Try things for the first time, especially if it scares you. This one helps you not to get stuck in your comfort zone and to always keep moving forward. The result? Adrenaline, sensation of achievement, fulfillment and more confidence in yourself.
- Create a pleasant routine to start your day positively!
Do not just rush to work or school straight out of bed. Take time for yourself. Think through your day, your routes and objectives. Give yourself enough time to actually wake up and get into a good mood before starting with the tasks of the day. Meditation and/or exercise are a great way to do that!
- Make your home your castle!
Make sure your home is every bit as comfortable and cozy as you need. Your home should be a place where you feel safe and can relax and enjoy yourself with no strings attached. Do not think as much about what others would think, but how you will feel the best and safest in your home.
- Adopt an animal!
Animals are great company and they teach you some valuable lessons on how to take time off and play. In addition, they will make the atmosphere in your home warmer and might even be a great excuse to get some exercise and/or talk to other animal lovers in your neighborhood whom you would not otherwise know how to strike up a conversation with.
Moreover, I strongly believe in adopting over buying. You get to improve or even save an animal’s life and win a grateful loyal friend for a long time, whereas when buying an animal you are just feeding the system that puts so many cats and dogs on the street to start with.
- Log off, shut down and read a book!
There is indeed such thing as too much information or too connected. Try to put and keep your real life before your virtual one. More importantly, do not forget what it is like to be alone in your own company with no external distractions. It is okay to be alone and take some time just for yourself every now and then. So disconnect, have a cup of tea and read a book or – just be!
- Take a step back!
Do not forget to zoom out and get a broader glimpse of what life is really about. We all tend to get too stuck in the problems and worries of our daily lives and even blow them out of proportion as they are all we can see.
My husband and I sometimes like to sneak and climb to the rooftop of the apartment building we live in. We usually take a whole picnic set with us there – some foldable chairs or a sleeping mat to sit on, fresh coffee in a thermos and still warm pastry bought from the bakery on the corner of our street. Then, while watching the sunset side by side, we feel the immensity of the city and the world wash over us.
All those buildings stretching as far as the eye can see in all directions, countless planes passing by and the sun setting in its own rhythm, not ever minding any of the fuss of the private lives of millions of tiny persons it overlooks.
This distance, this view – they help to put things into perspective. Sometimes all you need is to remind yourself what a tiny and insignificant particle of the universe you actually are, and things start to make more sense again. It pulls your nose out of the all the small things that we tend to obsess about and makes you see how petty they mostly are.
- Get out of the city every now and then!
Although, a fulfilling life in São Paulo indeed is possible, you should try to escape it whenever you can even if it was just for a couple of days to breathe some clean air, get in touch with the nature and experience different ways of living. More about that in the post How to Dance to the Rhythm of São Paulo.
- Last but not least: forge meaningful relationships!
As you might have noticed, many of the previous tips actually serve as a way to meet more open-minded people with whom you might have a thing or two in common. In my experience, you know your people when you meet them.
You will also recognize the ones you will not get along or share any values with. My advice is: do not be afraid to let go of those people. Once you have done that, take your time to find and then put an effort into winning over the persons you actually click with, even though it might seem more difficult, time consuming and/or intimidating at first. Believe me, it is worth it.