Megna Paula
3 min readFeb 25, 2024

When I moved into my new apartment, just five blocks from my old place, I stacked up my drawing notebooks and just let them sit in a cabinet for the last almost-two years. Just recently inspired to take up painting again, I opened a beautiful notebook that I had presumed to be blank, and found that it, well, wasn’t.

Just one page was taken up in tight script traveling along neat rows and the sight of the page brought back many memories. The sitting in an artist friend’s loft in SoHo, long ago, inspired to write and having not much of my own writing materials. The borrowed pen, the armchair and sunlight, the thrill of emptying my mind onto paper.

It was a simple thing, the page I wrote. I didn’t edit it all, just typed it below, as I meant to do about four years ago. Looking at it now, I enjoy the simplicity of it. I hope you will too.

morning sunlight on my desk; you can see the handwritten page I’ve typed for you here.

My first few months of living in Manhattan were beautifully chaotic. Navigating city blocks crowded with shops and a new home crowded with boxes, it took me a couple months to realize: I was stressed.

Stress, which is the underlying factor of every major disease, can be divided into two categories: acute stress, and chronic stress. Acute stress is short term, intense, and many in the realm of the body. Systems designed by evolution to help us outrun predators kick in every time we have a big meeting or are caught with our hand in the cookie jar. When the situation passes, so does the stress.

Chronic stress, on the other hand, usually filters from the mind into the body. Concerns over the future (will there be enough, will we be ok) and combing through the past (what could I have done better, why did that happen) can escalate into stress, not to mention anxiety.

Chronic stress is mainly a mind game — it occurs in times of physical safety. Which is to say that there is no observable, imitate threat, and the planning/ reflecting has crossed the threshold from adaptive to stressful. This can also occur when we feel unsafe or vaguely ill at ease — the mind is watchful for some expected threat, which may or may not be rational (anything from crazy pedestrians to the constant drive too prove yourself in a city of millions).

The body responds to chronic stress by tightening, becoming more rigid in self defense, often storing tension in habitual places such as shoulders, neck, stomach, and hips. And while drinking, eating, shopping and other common responses to our stressful modern lifestyles to temporarily distract us, they do not physically relax the body.

Massage and body work do wonders, but to de-stress as a part of your daily life, the best tools come from yoga and mediation.

Me in that artist’s studio where I wrote that piece — feeling much love and gratitude, the best antidotes to stress.