If you live in New York City, you’ve probably heard it from a thousand visitors: “It’s wonderful — but ugh, I could never live here.” You disagree, of course, but there’s a haunting doubt in the back of your mind. Sure, these people spend too much time in Times Square, but the crowds in New York City don’t exist only in tourist traps. The long lines, the subway doors that close in your face, the rude people — they can be everywhere. They surround you. And they stress you out.
That’s why every New Yorker needs a stress strategy — or three. Here’s our best advice for cutting down on the big-city stress.
Get off the city streets
Be aware of work-life balance. Make sure you’re not working so hard that you mess up your mental health by denying yourself the rest you need. Well, we’d like to propose a new concept: city-life balance.
Sometimes, you just need to get off of these crowded city streets. Maybe you can take a break by meditating in your apartment, or maybe finding a “non-city” spot is as simple as going deep into one of New York City’s larger parks, like Central Park or Prospect Park. But you should also take a trip out of the city once in a while, especially to natural spaces. Being in nature calms our minds and helps our mental health.
If you’re exercising while you’re out of the city, that’s even better. Have you considered any of the hikes that you can do off of the Metro North trains? You don’t even need a car to escape the city in search of nature.
Focus on your sleep
When the subway doors close in your face, you’re likely to feel furious. When a cab hits a puddle and soaks your pants, you’ll likely feel miserable. Sometimes, things just get stressful around here. But it’s also important to remember that how we feel about these setbacks and frustrations does not depend entirely on what’s going on in the moment — it’s not just the incident itself, or even our own thinking in the moment. The groundwork for the thoughts we’re having may have been laid last night, and the night before, and the night before that.
Lack of sleep makes us irritable. Lack of sleep makes us less effective at our jobs and less precise in our thinking and actions. Lack of sleep, in short, can make us more likely to get into stressful situations and more likely to react poorly to them.And considering how notoriously bad the “city that never sleeps” is for getting shut-eye, it’s a good idea for you to examine your sleep habits if you want to reduce stress in New York City. Fight the noise of traffic and revelers with white noise machines or earplugs. Fight the streetlights with blackout curtains or a sleep mask. Reclaim your sleep, and you just might find that you chill out.
Stress is bad for you. It’s hurting your health, and studies show that it can take years off of your life. If a physical ailment was threatening your lifespan, you would probably be in a doctor’s office very quickly — so why aren’t you getting help for your mental health?
Taking your mental health seriously means getting help from mental health professionals, explain the experts at Therapy Group of NYC. Don’t try to go it alone. New York City has a lot of great therapists, psychologists, and psychiatrists who can help you find meaningful solutions to your mental health challenges, no matter how small or large they are (remember, you don’t have to have any kind of mental health condition to benefit from therapy or a check-in with a psychiatrist).
New York City is a wild and wonderful place to live. It will always have its stresses, but you can do a lot to make sure that New York’s worst won’t get to you. Enjoy your big-city life.