Living in a city can be exciting and energizing. But according to psychologists, it can also mess with your mental health. Anxiety and serious mental illness are all more likely in a large city. Don’t despair. Follow our tips to shake off the stress of urban living. And then enjoy it!
From noise and pollution to loneliness and traffic nightmares, the urban environment can be overwhelming and unpleasant. This is urban stress. It affects millions of people, most of whom have no choice but to endure it.
Stress isn’t unique to city life; people surrounded by hills, cows and trees can succumb too! But urban living seems to magnify the effects of stress.
City living is fast, stimulating and unpredictable. From an evolutionary point of view, this is the perfect reason to remain on alert, prepared for any ‘fight or flight’ reaction. We adapt to city living, but the chronic feeling of edginess takes its toll on our health.
Loneliness is another factor. The ironic urban mix of being lonely in a crowd isn’t good for our brains. If you’re particularly susceptible then city stress can even trigger serious mental illness.
Dopamine may be the culprit. The repeated stresses of city living can increase our dopamine levels, altering our brain chemistry. Combine this with social isolation and – voila! – you have the perfect cocktail for mental ill health.
Meditation. When life feels overwhelming you need an escape. This could mean 2 minutes sitting quietly at your desk, or regular mindfulness/yoga classes.
Get to know your neighbourhood. Whether this means trying out a new gym, exploring the parks or regular coffee shop visits, you’ll feel more socially connected and secure.
Home exercise. City life can be exhausting but getting active will help combat this urban exhaustion. You will release endorphins and boost your immune system – essential to counteract all that pollution. If you can Hussle in green surroundings all the better. Try mountain biking, walking, running or cycling.
Use the gym. Regular Hussles at the gym help you meet new people and get rid of stress. Sticking your headphones also gives you a break from all the urban noise. Seen some gyms you like? Take advantage of our 3 month offer to try them out.
Healthy diet. City living means 24-hour access to fast food and caffeine which can lead to obesity, illness and stress. Combat this with a healthy, unprocessed food when possible.
Listen to music. Had a long day? Put on your earbuds. Studies show that our nervous systems recover more quickly from stress when listening to music. Whatever your taste, music you enjoy will relax you and boost your mood.
I have a friend who lives in a small village - she says that even the most 'I get up really early' of her visitors sleep like logs at her house. Peace, quiet, fresh air.... although I'll settle for the empty tube train in the picture!
Well, I do regular coffee shop visits and I definitely think this helps me relax in the hubub of the busy city. I love to sit, sip and watch from my calm corner. I don't meet anyone though, but nor do I want to!
I was interested to read about how urban living keeps us on edge. That makes sense to me. When I visit Scotland I feel myself physically slow down and I'm sure that's the environment.