About 80 percent of Americans live in cities, and many of us live in fairly large ones. Big cities have their appeal: they’re the best place to go to a museum or catch a concert, for instance, and they are great places for building powerful careers.
But they’re also stressful and unhealthy in a lot of ways. If you’re not careful, your city lifestyle could hurt you. Below, we’ll lay out some of the ways that big-city living could harm your health — and give you a few tips for fighting back.
Cities make you work too hard
Workers in cities like New York City and Washington, DC are notorious for being “always on”. In addition to working longer hours, on average, than those in many other areas, big-city professionals have a bad habit of taking work calls during meals, answering emails from bed, etc.
You need to fight for your work-life balance. That means setting boundaries — do you really have to answer that email right now? And know when to take time off. Remember, proper work-life balance can actually improve your productivity, so even professionals in competitive markets like Washington, DC would be smart to take a break or a vacation once in a while.
Cities can wreck your diet
In the big city, you have tons of options for food. From fine dining to fast food, there are eateries everywhere. But there’s one place where you may find less food than you’d expect: your own kitchen. City apartments can be cramped, and kitchen working and storage space can suffer.
Plus, our busy city work and commuting schedules can leave us with little time or energy to cook. And with so many options for takeout and delivery, it’s easy to rely on outside sources of food. That’s not great for our health, though: unless you’re Grubhub-ing a lot of salads, you’re probably not eating what you should.
It can be tough, but try to cook more in the city. Meal prepping — cooking a lot of food at once and saving it for later meals — can help, and so can grocery and ready-to-cook meal delivery services. If you manage to cook more healthy food at home, you’ll save yourself money and save your body a lot of grief.
Cities can cut into your exercise schedules
When you’re working long hours and managing a long commute across your crowded city, you may find that you don’t have as much time for exercise as you used to. And when you do get home and put on your workout clothes, you may find that the crowded city streets are not ideal for your healthy jog.
Making time to exercise is tough. One of the best ways to get exercise throughout the day is to choose to walk more. Get of the subway one stop early, for instance, or just choose to walk to a restaurant instead of taking a cab. If you can’t enjoy jogging on the streets, find a park or join a gym.
Cities can mess up your sleep
Healthy sleep is key to both your physical health and your mental health. But big cities have bright lights and loud noises, and those things can go on all night, messing up your sleep.
Make an effort to protect your sleeping space. Regain the dark by using blackout curtains or a sleep mask. Get earplugs or a while noise machine to counter big-city noise. And do your best to keep your sleep schedule consistent by going to bed and waking up at the same time every day.
Cities demand that you care for your mental health
Cities aren’t always great for our physical health, but they can be even tougher on our mental health. Maintaining your mental health requires you to do many of the same things that you’d do for your physical health (like eat well and exercise), but it also means maintaining proper work-life balance, finding time to be alone, and enjoying calming spaces — all tough things to do in the city.
That’s why professional mental health care is so important in cities, explain the experts at Therapy Group of DC. Seeking cognitive therapy and other professional treatment options can make a world of difference in everything from your happiness to your productivity. Don’t let the city get to you — get help instead!