New Yorkers often live on the edge.
On the edge of excitement. On the edge of making their dreams come true. The city is built for people who thrive on competition at a breakneck pace.
You’re here to make life happen. Fast. No time for much else. Whatever you’re into, the pressure is real. You may start the day with caffeine and a mental “rush” urging you out the door.
If you look and listen closely, you might also notice that the streets, subways, and offices are teeming with fellow New Yorkers who are also over stimulated and overwhelmed by the anxious worry that maybe they just can’t hack it.
Can you relate?
Is your New York state of mind increasingly worried and weary from keeping up with the Joneses, proving yourself, and wondering whether you can ever really measure up?
Consider the following plan to help you thrive in a city of superheroes that seem to have it all together. You may think living on the edge gives you an edge, makes you tough, and pushes you toward success. But as you find yourself becoming increasingly worn down mentally and physically, it may be time to trade in that nervous energy for the type that comes from healthy habits.
In other words, get back to some self-care basics:
1. Eat. Coffee is not a food group. Choose foods that will fill and nourish your mind and body. Cut back on the stimulants that only serve to amplify anxiety.
2. Exercise. Running out the door every morning is not enough. Yoga is a great way to get your body moving and center your thoughts.
3. Sleep. The city may never sleep, but you must. Rejuvenate your body in order to tolerate New York’s hectic pace.
4. Relax. If you have to, schedule down time. It seems like an option you can forgo, but all work and no play leads to heightened levels of mental and physical stress that lead to burn out, shut down, and, for some, anxiety attacks.
5. Resist self-medication. It’s sometimes tempting to give yourself an extra push with drugs or alcohol. Carefully choose healthier, non-addictive ways to find relief.
Anxiety is usually fear located in the past or future (“Have I done enough?” “What do I do next?” “What if..”) that interferes with your daily life. City dwellers often find themselves hustling through life, highly concerned with where they’ve been and where they’re going. Consider the benefits of mindfulness. Practice being present and aware to help you focus on your goals and accept the state of your progress with less concern about what other people are doing and how you compare. You may find you are able to put the rat race into a bit more perspective.
Life in New York is intense. Clearing your head may seem impossible as you rush from one obligation to the next. Keep a notebook and pencil on hand so that you can take advantage of unexpected delays or wait times during the day. Jot down what you notice, what bothers you, or what you wish were happening. At the end of the day, jot down a few things you’re grateful for.
Journaling helps you find your own voice in the noisy city and gain mental and emotional clarity.
Finally, anxiety in the city can sometimes stem from “urban loneliness.” That is, you feel socially isolated even though there are literally crowds of people around you all day. Alleviate anxiety by resisting isolation and avoidance of social interaction. Acknowledge that even strong, capable New Yorkers need someone to talk to.