How Urban Living Can Stress You Out, and What to Do About It

It’s fair to say that the American population is becoming increasingly urbanized.

It’s fair to say that the American population is becoming increasingly urbanized. Around 80 percent of Americans live in urban settings, but not all of them would stay in the city if given the choice. Gallup research from 2018 states that most Americans live in cities due to their jobs and better career opportunities. 

Perhaps these urban dwellers are complaining without a cause. After all, the city is where they hold stable jobs and have countless coffee shops and delis during their break, and also where they have enough cell signal to call cabs and get takeout after a long workday. However, rural living is linked to a healthier and longer life.

Would daily life be as convenient in rural settings? Probably not, but here’s the thing: while urban life has lots of opportunities and benefits, you should count the stressors in. What are those stressors?


When pollution levels are so bad that you can smell it in the air and even see it on furniture, something’s not right. Still, “pollution” isn’t only related to disease-causing filthy air, but also to noise pollution that can be more than just vexing.

The Washington, DC area is one of the country’s most polluted cities during high-ozone days, a 2014 State of the Air report stated. As if that weren’t enough, the headache-inducing noise is a primary cause for complaints and it can be just as unhealthy.   

High costs

When living in the city, you’re influenced by pretty much everything you see: attractive food ads, store sales, seemingly cheap gym memberships, movie tickets, etc. 

Recreational costs mixed with insurance, taxes, and high rent prices can take its toll on your wallet and mental health if you don’t prioritize your finances wisely. Money stress is real, and it can either cause or worsen symptoms of depression, panic, and anxiety if difficulties become critical.

Decreased contact with nature

City dwellers don’t often pause to hear the birds sing, take deep breaths of fresh air, or simply revel in nature. That’s why their ideal vacation getaways usually involve the polar opposite of the urban environment: quiet rural areas.

But unfortunately, they can’t just escape to nature whenever they feel like it. What most people don’t know is that even the simplest connection with nature can improve mental health, like the sight of trees and a blue sky.

You don’t even have to plan a whole trip. Simply give yourself a break and visit your city’s botanic garden, or walk your dog in the park for a little exercise and a daily dose of vitamin D.

Is there a way out? 

Moving out of the city and into a quaint ranch house in the countryside would be the best alternative, but maybe not the most feasible. For this reason, you should make the most of where you are.

If you’re in the DC area and feeling overly stressed, you could benefit from local group therapy or individual therapy, but of course, you can find services anywhere. Outside stressors may interact with what’s already been going on in your life, physically, financially, or emotionally. Solving one problem at a time can bring the relief you need for your best life in the city. 

In addition, regular exercise improves mood and aids relaxation. Turning exercise into a habit can ease your mind and boost your health, particularly on stressful days. Washington flaunts plenty of greenery and trails (like the Rock Creek Park) to hike, run, bike, or simply shut off the bustle and enjoy the calm.

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