Community Spotlight Series
Highlighting those that inspire us and spread their magic with the world. Join us for our bi- monthly series.
Bringing Wellness Wherever She Goes
Annya Santana was born in the Dominican Republic and grew up in the Bronx. Pre-pandemic, she spent most of her time in Paris, but since COVID hit, has been back in the Bronx with her family. She's an avid runner, vegan, takes joy in all seasonal fruit (including her family's farm in DR), is passionate about highlighting wellness & culture together, and founder of the clean skincare line Menos Mas (means less is more). In other words, she's incredibly intentional, driven, and connected to her family + community. She's always uplifting those around her, bringing her family and their culture alongside with her on this wellness journey.
1. What are a few things that help you find a rhythm in your daily life with everything going on?
Getting structure back in my life has been a blessing. I started the year on a big project that left me physically depleted by its completion at the end of February. After taking two weeks to regroup and then head back to Paris where I reside, we all got shut down and panic ensued with Covid. It was scary and my coping mechanism was to shut down all work and just exist. Be a bum, lots of puzzles, baking and family time. It was in many ways a once in a lifetime privileged experience so much of doing nothing. Until it wasn't. Having no schedule for months, consuming covid news packaged with the social unrest my community imploded with, made it nearly impossible for me to do absolutely anything I needed to do. when it was time to focus on work again I really struggled. I couldn't concentrate on even sending one single email.
2. What are three things you do to be well + immune healthy during the week?
I had to really find a solution because my anxiety peaked. There is so much we don't have control over at the moment but conquering the small daily things we do have control over make a drastic difference. I went back to the absolute basics and reintroduced discipline in small doses. I stopped drinking coffee (something I never did and picked up heavily while being locked in the house with my parents), I made space in my room to creative a productive environment (painted white, got plants cleared my desk), I started eating much better again and doing working micro workouts (15-20 minutes medium to high intensity workout to feel it but not so long that I wouldn't do it again the next day), and waking up at 6am. I spent a month normalizing this in my life again and that jump started my eagerness to be productive in work.
3. Stress is inevitable — What stresses you out?
Where do I start? I'm an entrepreneur, so that alone has a million subcategories. But being an entrepreneur, a woman of color and just a person figuring out life in this tumultuous climate brings a new level. Uncertainty for us all is scary and stressful. Most of the stress I have is brought on by my own thoughts. Thinking that I am never doing enough, that maybe I am not good enough and feeling like a failure because I am this tiny speckle taking on the planet trying to move a big needle sometimes feels really hopeless.
4. When you’re feeling under the weather or having a suboptimal day, how do you take care of yourself?
Rest. It's hard to turn off but these days, I take the rest graciously. I load up on vitamin c- a DIY tea tonic i down all day, and sleep. I rather kill whatever is coming on early as it's incubating than just not listening to my body and letting it get out of control by not taking the time off. 3 days of nothing but R&R may seem like a lot when we all have work but it's far better than 15 days of subpar work days whilst feeling like complete shit.
There is too much outside noise already keeping us down. In this climate, I am learning to give myself grace on the days I don't do the things I set out to do. Instead of crippling myself with disappointment, I spend that energy really practicing fully completing one thing on my list before the day is done. This way I feel some sense of accomplishment. When the day is completely done, I am kind to myself so I take my time ending the day- a full skincare routine, writing down my feelings, and watching a funny show while sipping on tea/adaptogen latte to fully relax all just make me let go of the day. I make a new list with more pragmatic expectations that will allow me to optimize the next day. Even going to bed early so that I can wake up at my early bird time goal all make feel like I will seize the next day.
5. If you recall an intense or stressful period in your life, what/who helped you move through it?
I work extremely well under pressure. Under extremities I somehow leave my body and go on overdrive until all problems are solved, deadlines are met and everyone is pleased.
6. When you think about the little things in life, what brings you joy?
Now more than ever, where we don't have access to all the things we think we need, its the little things- the memories, the laughter, the time we have and the experiences you create with yourself and those around you are what bring you happiness.
7. What lessons have you learned that help you keep things in perspective?
Life has taught me a plethora of lessons. Having values, integrity and purpose are far more important in anything you do. Loving and trusting yourself early on is something I wish all young people practiced. No matter how shitty people are towards you, always move with kindness. Vulnerability and love are beautiful and necessary. Fear is normal, having it means you should tackle that which you fear. It should drive you and if you embrace it, it will empower you. Failure and loss are a necessary evil but if you allow yourself to learn, be honest and take responsibility for where you fell short and adjust, it will be what makes you succeed and tying that back to believing in yourself is what will make you succeed because it means you won't quit.