Mental Health, Self-Care, and New York City

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New York City may be the most romanticized place on earth. Countless movies, books, and stories describe New York City and its five boroughs as the center of the universe—an urban paradise where dreams can come true if you work hard enough. Will it be easy? Probably not. Is it one of the most expensive places to live in the world? Absolutely. But as the song goes, if you can make it in New York, you can make it anywhere. It’s no wonder why people from all over the world have come to New York for generations in search of money, success, and a better life.

These idealistic portrayals of New York and the lifestyle it can offer are, for the most part, true or at least can be true. However just like almost anything else in life, there are shades of grey, and the reality is that in a city of over eight million people, not everyone is living out a romantic comedy or striking it rich on Wall Street. In fact, surveys over the past few years have indicated that a significant portion of New Yorkers are dealing with depression or other mental health issues.  

Life moves at a fast pace in New York, but everyone needs to take care of their mental health, and New Yorkers are no different. Here are a few ways to practice self-care in New York City.

Seek therapy

Despite its size and population, New York City can be a lonely place. Its highly competitive culture can easily cause anxiety and feelings of inadequacy. If you are feeling isolated while simultaneously surrounded by other people, talking to a therapist for a neutral perspective could make all the difference.

Sunday in new York Central Park credit Kim Brixen Wikimedia Commons
Central Park New York

New York City is home to first class services in virtually every industry, including therapy and mental health support. There is no shortage of therapy practices in New York City, so much so that your biggest problem may be finding the right therapist in Manhattan for you. It’s common for people to try out multiple therapists before finding one that suits them, so don’t become discouraged if you don’t immediately click with the first therapist you visit. In New York, there is always another option.

Block out the noise

New York is known as the city that doesn’t sleep, but that doesn’t mean that its residents don’t need some rest. New York City is quite literally a symphony of sounds. Police or ambulance sirens are blaring almost nonstop and the sounds of the city are constant. This noise pollution is so all-encompassing that most residents simply register it as background noise.  But everyone needs to get away sometimes. Escaping the hustle and bustle of the city can do wonders for one’s mental state, even if just for a few minutes.

Finding a quiet spot to truly enjoy some silence or meditate for just ten minutes a day can cut down on anxiety and help alleviate stress.

Fresh air

Make sure to get some fresh air into your lungs every once in a while. The air in many areas of New York City tend to be stagnant and slightly polluted, and that’s outside. This air pollution, combined with the fact that most NYC jobs include sitting indoors for eight hours per day means that most New Yorkers could use a breath of fresh air. While taking a trip outside of the city is definitely an option, a simple walk through Central Park or Prospect Park can do the trick, as well.

Take a break

New York City is largely recognized as the financial capital of the world. There are billions of dollars to be made in NYC, and that means high stakes and high stress. While these factors are part of what makes New York so great, it’s also important to take a break if you are working in a high-stress environment. Removing yourself from a stressful situation or problem at work will give you time to recharge and tackle the problem with improved focus.