We caught up with Ryan Norville, better known as Cinnamon Ryan, a floral artist, mom, and wife, to chat about her memories of stress as part of our “Stress Memories” series. “Stress Memories” is a series of questions we ask our featured humans to encourage and normalize stress-related conversations. Because it is Pride Month, we also asked Ryan her pronouns and if she considered herself an ally of the LGBTQ+ community.
My pronouns are: she/her.
An LGBTQ ally: Absolutely!
My first memory of stress was in college. I think the first time I remember it coming to a point where it was hindering my everyday activities was during my second year of college. I was working to one, put myself through college as a full-time student, and two, support my family. It was coming to a head where I had pressure, it felt like, on all sides. I experienced my first tension headache. I didn’t know what that was. It felt like this rubber band around my head. That was the first time I clearly remember being stressed out.
Stress looks and feels like boundaries. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity and privilege to manage my life in a way where I only allow certain energies around me. I really know my boundaries well. I know what I can do work-wise. I know what I can do in terms of supporting my family. I know what I can do in terms of how much access I allow people who stress me out to have. My stress doesn’t get as physical anymore. What stress looks like for me now is more like self-composed pressure and internalized pressure I put on myself. A lot of the times when I speak on the things that are causing me stress, people around me say it’s my own higher expectations of myself. But, I’ve really allowed myself to manage any external stress. I tough those things out a lot of the time and have people put me back on a nice, leveled playing field.
I have many boundaries. I don’t answer emails on the weekend. I don’t answer emails after 5:30pm. I don’t respond to text messages immediately–if I don’t feel like it’s necessary. I don’t answer phone calls. I may not emotionally be in the space to have a conversation with someone who has a repeated history of putting a lot on me emotionally without warning. I make sure to put myself in a space where I know it’s okay to say no to work that is not great for me physically. Even if it’s a good opportunity, I don’t take it on.
I put my phone on Do Not Disturb at night. I allow myself to not feel guilty about not being able to meet other people’s expectations of myself. I do a good job of managing expectations for people who work with me, people with whom I have a familiar relationship or any friends. So, if I’m not meeting their expectations or what they want of me, I’ll allow myself to not feel guilty about that. Obviously, I want to be at peace with everyone, but I can’t please everyone and I’m okay with that.
When I’m stressed, I listen to music. I really really love music and I love to work to music. I love Brazilian. Samba. I love listening to Jazz. I love R&B. Things that feel calming but familiar. I’ll gravitate towards a playlist I already have. Usually, anything that feels restful is good for me.
Scents lower my stress. I love candles. I love earthy scents that have a bit of sweetness and woodiness to them, whether that’s like cinnamon or geranium leaf. I’ve been burning this candle by Boy Smells. It’s in collaboration with this yoga brand Sky Ting. It was really mindfully made. The notes are like Sichuan pepper, angelica seed, and a bunch of other really beautiful earthly notes like jasmine. Also, some amber which is funny because I don’t love strong amber, but I think those notes balance well. It’s really perfect for me. I use it for being active in my yoga practice or when I’m trying to go to sleep at night. I love it when I’m taking a shower. It’s just amazing. I use it for everything.
I’ve been wearing Byredo for a long time. I haven’t had any new developments in scents I wear because during quarantine, I wasn’t wearing a lot of perfume because I was home. I’m very curious to see this new phase and new life of things slowly opening up and continuing on. I’m gravitating towards those things and interested in new scents as well.
When I’m stressed, I prefer darkness. Low light. I am under my blanket or a thick quilt. I am usually tired when I’m stressed out. I don’t engage in active recovery which is work a little bit, rest, work a little bit, rest. I burn myself completely out and get stressed out and hide underneath my blanket.
I eat and drink terribly when I’m stressed. Oh my gosh, terrible! I’ll drink anything super sugary like a root beer or a sparkling apple cider. Sometimes, I’ll have a hard cider or a beer. A beer means I’m super stressed because actually, I think beer is disgusting. If I’m stressed and there’s some in the fridge, I’m gonna have a beer. I definitely respect people who love beer and have that knowledge. I’m still open to finding some I like. I had a couple that I liked, but it’s not a go-to. I definitely lean towards comfort food. Anything warm and brothy. Usually ramen. Ramen is my big comfort food when I’m stressed.
When I’m stressed, I prefer something that’s high-intensity. I’ve been boxing for a few years. I think boxing, whether I’m stressed or not, is an all-mood sport. But, it especially helps when I’m stressed. I can do it without thinking at this point and I think that’s what I really need when I’m stressed out. I think a lot of people think of boxing as releasing this anger, and that’s not how I think of it. I think of it as a fully engaged physical activity, to the point where there’s nothing else I can think of. And after that, I feel like I’ve had a breather, and I can come back to whatever is stressing me out with a clear head.
This interview has been edited for clarity and length.