There are plenty of benefits to living in the city; you’re close to almost everything you need, and it can be an exciting, fast-paced lifestyle. But, what makes it great can also start to wear on you, over time.
Simply put, city life can be stressful. Studies have shown that living in a busy city can have a negative impact on your mental health. One study discovered that people living in cities were 21% more likely to develop an anxiety disorder.
City life isn’t actually how people were ever supposed to live. In centuries past, it was more common for people to have small groups and communities, rather than throw themselves into a group of millions.
But, cities are here to stay. Whether you love your city life or not, almost everyone can agree that it can be stressful at times. So, what can you do to live a healthier and more relaxed life?
Finding Some Peace and Quiet
Bustling cities aren’t exactly known for being peaceful. Even in movies, city scenes are loud, fast, and chaotic with car horns, people shouting, police sirens, and construction. New York is called the “city that never sleeps” for a reason, but that could also be impacting your sleep.
If you’re truly not able to find any peace and quiet, even when you’re home, you could be dealing with constant stress and not getting enough sleep. Unfortunately, that can lead to problems like:
- Increased blood pressure
- Heart conditions
- Impaired immunity
While you can’t turn the city off, there are things you can do to find some peace and quiet, from installing noise-reduction shades in your home to using thick, heavy rugs on your floor to absorb some of the sounds.
To relax at home, you can also try things like mindfulness or meditation. Both allow you to focus on your breathing and your thoughts in the moment, without letting the distractions of the outside world get to you. You can also try alternative, safe solutions like CBD oil. If you’re hesitant about CBD, its psychoactive properties do not get you “high” the same way marijuana does. These properties are found in other common things, including caffeine. They simply alter your brain enough to help you relax.
There are also ways to find peace and quiet, even when you’re not at home. Most cities across the country have “hidden gems” where you can escape the chaos of urban life for a while, and feel like you’re not constantly crowded by others.
Struggling With the Pressure of Too Many People
Speaking of constant crowds, that can be another issue for people living in the city. When you first move to an urban area, it should come as no surprise how many people there are. At first, it might be exciting.
But, it can also be scary, overwhelming, and exhausting.
Having to weave through thousands of people on your morning walk, being crammed in the subway like sardines, or getting stuck in rush hour traffic can all make you feel completely crowded and even suffocated.
Dealing with people every day is a part of city life, and there are very few ways to avoid that aside from staying at home. If you already struggle with issues like anxiety, feeling cramped or surrounded doesn’t usually help matters, and you might start to feel like you’re nothing more than a small speck in a big fishbowl.
Overcrowding in cities isn’t just an inconvenience. There are instances in which it can be dangerous, especially when it comes to overcrowded housing. Overloaded apartment buildings have a reputation for not being well-maintained, and living in such close quarters with so many others can trigger feelings of anxiety even more.
Finding time to give yourself some space is important if you feel overwhelmed by crowds. Whether that’s in your own home, at a park, or even if it requires you to travel somewhere, it’s crucial to “get away” from time to time just to feel like you can breathe. If the city life and the crowds that come with it are just too overwhelming, you might even consider making a move to a more rural area for the sake of your mental health.
Feeling Lost in the Crowd
Another potential problem that comes as a result of so many people living in the city is loneliness. That might not make sense on the surface. After all, how can you feel alone in a city full of millions?
Unfortunately, it’s easier than most people think. Because you’re surrounded by so many people, it can be difficult to know your place. You’re in the presence of millions of strangers each day, but that doesn’t mean you’re forming healthy connections or relationships. Over the last year, in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, that has gotten even worse. Major cities were put on various forms of lockdown, social distancing was required, and “self-isolating” became a widely-used term.
While the isolation brought on by COVID was/is beneficial for everyone’s physical health, that kind of loneliness can take a toll on everyone’s mental health. In fact, social isolation has been linked to issues like:
- Weakened immune system
- Higher levels of stress
- Sleep problems
In older individuals, loneliness has even been found to impact mortality. It can be even harder to be alone if you’re already dealing with issues like depression, anxiety, or even addiction recovery. There is a loss of routine, an interruption of services you might be used to, and a lack of important connections that can help you through the hard times.
Forming new connections and keeping existing ones is crucial when you’re feeling alone or isolated. While that isn’t easy during a pandemic, use technology to bridge the gap and regularly contact the people you care about as well as receive the medical and emotional help you need. It may not be the same as getting together in-person, but it can let you know that you’re not alone.
Living in the city has its advantages and disadvantages, just like anywhere else. You might love most things about it, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore your health and find time to relax. Keep these ideas in mind and take notice of how the city lifestyle could be impacting you. When you find time to relax, breathe, and “escape” from it, even for a while, it can make a big difference in your wellbeing.