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Managing the Stress of City Living

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Living in a city can be harshly stressful. Everyone around you is rushing to get from point A to point B, living a fast-paced lifestyle, and working extremely hard. The pressure to keep up with that can be overwhelming and exhausting. If we do keep up, we might experience burnout. If we don’t keep up, we might feel anxious. So how do we make sure to manage our own personal expectations for ourselves and avoid getting consumed by the energy of the people around us?
1. Book end your days with stress-relieving activities. Implement a routine in both the morning & the evening that will allow you to begin your day on a calm and focused note and end it in a way that helps you de-compress and relax. Some examples of activities that can be done during this time are reading, meditating, writing positive affirmations, journaling, drinking tea, or exercising.
2. Make positive associations with your commute. Let’s face, commuting is often one of the most stressful parts of the day, especially in a city. Finding a route that is less crowded or more scenic or listening to a motivational podcast or audio book, for example, can ease some of the tension caused by traffic and other commuters. You may also consider listening to some relaxing music, enjoying a healthy snack or drink, or doing a guided meditation if you’re on a train or bus.
3. Set daily, weekly, and monthly goals. Goal-setting helps us feel productive, organized, and in control over our progress. Setting weekly & monthly goals and making a daily to-do list that involves steps to attaining them is the most effective strategy to avoid feelings of overwhelm from disorganization or lack of focus. It also keeps us aligned with our own goals and minimizes our likelihood to compare ourselves to others. Make sure your goals are specific and realistic otherwise this step will backfire.
4. Make time to escape. Getting out of the city once in awhile can be extremely positive for our mental well-being, but we often feel like we don’t have the time or resources to do so. Plan time, at least once a month, to get out of the city for even just a few hours. It could be to a neighboring town or, at the very least, your city’s park. Being in nature and/or stepping outside of our daily environment helps us to slow down, ground ourselves and be more present which in turn helps us feel relaxed, calm and de-stressed.
5. Find and use your supports. Sometimes our strategies and systems to avoid and manage the stress of the city fail and we need someone we can vent to and share our frustration with. Identify the people in your life that you can turn to during particularly overwhelming times and make sure you communicate to them what you need from them when you do, whether it’s someone to listen, someone to help you problem-solve, or someone to give you tough love. Letting others know what we need from them avoids additional frustration and helps us to relieve our stress quicker.
Keep in mind that our strategies will need constant re-adjusting, so don’t be afraid to switch up your routine or to try new techniques for managing your stress. We are ever-changing, our lives are ever-changing, and our environments are ever-changing, so it only makes sense that our routines & coping mechanisms need to be ever-changing, too.

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