Fitness & Health

Tips to Manage Mental Health & Big City Life: NYC Edition

February 22, 2023 | BTSNYC
Three people crossing the light in the Streets of New York City

The city never sleeps. Do you? Hype or burnout? Which one is it? Here is how to manage mental health & big city life.

Three people crossing the light in the Streets of New York City

Fellow urbanites – how are you? Really. – A question to be taken somewhat seriously. What lurks beneath the polished, well-dressed surface? Hype? So, how can you manage mental health & big city life?

To call New York City your home, well, it’s a privilege. No price is too high. We can take it. We can take it all.  Job, finances, rent, social life, romantic life, vegan lifestyle, naked yoga – and others.

Well-being? Pro. But how manageable is it? Objectively. Let’s try and be honest; it’s just us here—you and me. No eavesdropping.

Burnout, anyone? Autonomy is a costly affair. Thrive or survive? Mental health problems are exquisitely common in urbanites. Why? Euphemism: absence of balance.

Truth? Self-neglect. How do we go about it? How do we tackle the perpetually hindering obstacles?

Let’s find out. That is how to manage mental health & big city life like a professional.

The Holy Tripod

We know this already. We just tend to forget. Or rather choose to ignore. Balance. What do we mean by it? There are not one, not two, but three planes to a human being: emotional, mental, and physical.

If one collapses, the others will follow. Two-legged tripod? Improbable.

Now, big cities and the holy tripod are a perpetual battlefield. Work, mental effort, push – intellectual strains, and long shifts. Months go by; the body starts withering away.

Track club? – For sure, just not right now. May? June? Maybe. Long hours. Can’t make it. Can’t wait, though. – Can it wait? Can the body wait that long? Our mental health? Our emotional apparatus? – Venting. A mental health must.

Woman in fitness clothes stretching in nature doing yoga
How do we manage mental health & big city life? – Easy. Ready, set, go.

The cliché: exercise

Yes, we know. Exercise advice is so passé. We’re tired of people telling us we need to buy running shoes. But we do. It’s science. (we can’t argue with that, can we?)

Here’s how it works. Vanity first.  Exercise improves our physical appearance, no matter its shape or form. The better we look (“OH, YOU HANDSOME DEVIL” mirror reflection), the better we feel about ourselves—self-esteem, self-confidence, and overall, a healthy Narcissus narrative.

On a physiological level, there’s dopamine, a significant factor. The feel-good chemical is released into our under-the-weather brains as we shed tears and sweat.

Kind and benevolent, this neurotransmitter improves our mood (from downbeat to upbeat), increases motivation, and betters our attention span and memory function.

Addiction recovery experts from Bright Futures Treatment Center report: “Exercise is of paramount importance for sobriety and mental balance.” A walk a day can do wonders. No exceptions.


Close your eyes

(not to be read in a threatening tone) What’s more essential than sleep? Name one thing. Except for air. Too obvious.

To manage mental health & big city life (and get them to work in unison), we must consider interconnectedness. “Cause and effect.” Simple as that.

Without quality sleep, our body starts to shut down. It refuses to cooperate. And we have work to do. Without cognitive capacity, our work and interpersonal relationships begin to suffer. Things begin to crumble down. Prematurely. And incomprehensibly.

Getting the right amount of sleep would increase our brain function, and the “cause and effect” momentum would live to a happier ending: creativity and concentration drive, anxiety resting, and depression at bay—all that jazz.

With noise pollution, crime anxiety, and impossible working hours, it’s hard, not impossible. Find a routine that works for you.

Person lying on a sofa with blue blanket depicts how to manage mental health & big city life
You know you want it.


Social fort

It goes for us introverts, too. Leave no man behind. Social butterflies or solitary cocoons, human beings are hardwired for connection.

An inherent need gifts us a sense of purpose and belonging. Of course, this doesn’t mean we need to throw ourselves under the party bus if we’re uncomfortable with the idea.

However, having that one (preferably 2?) go-to friend, when the much feared (often unannounced) “night of the soul” unravels is more than crucial. Social activities involuntarily lift the holy tripod.

But, again, party mode is not mandatory. Organizing a night with some high-quality company will suffice. And we don’t even have to drink ourselves to oblivion.

Ever thought about throwing a sober party for once? It’s just as fun (and maybe a bit more awkward at first, but give it an hour). Fearing for your mental health? Try to spend quality time with your friends as often as possible.

Invite novelties

Neophilia – love for new stimuli. Unfortunately, following the same routine (and falling into a rut) is a frequent occurrence. Yes, NYC is no exception.

We walk the same streets, ride the same train, and enjoy happy hour with the same familiar faces, day in-day out. But science says: new experiences improve our mental health

. So, how do we do it? We expand our comfort zone.

Continuous learning is innate to human survival and our well-being; novelties impact our mental apparatus positively, whether we’re strutting new neighborhoods, shaking unfamiliar hands, or simply learning a new skill.

New experiences keep our neural pathways awake. And, come on, it’s NYC. See that new play. Bars? Museums? Concerts? – all things imaginable within arm’s reach. Excuses, much?

Person in a zebra costume Circus
Surprise yourself; try something new.


Solitude hour

“I’m not feeling too social right now.” – Got it. Lose the entourage, and put your running shoes on. Just in case. Is money tight?

Plenty of amazing things we can do for free. Yoga classes, botanical gardens. Looking for some peace in New York City? Try:

  • The Cloisters
  • Green-Wood Cemetary
  • Hayden Planetarium
  • Wave Hill
  • The Rambles, Central Park
  • The basement of the Strand Bookstore
  • The Rose Reading Room
  • Septuagesimo Uno (New York City’s smallest park)
  • Grant’s Tomb, Riverside Park
  • Burp Castle

Final thoughts on tips to manage mental health & big city life

To manage mental health & big city life, we must permit ourselves to whine about all the drawbacks. Articulate your hardships.

Is it uncomfortable? Let it all out.

Finding someone who can nod and validate our experience sends a message: You are not alone.

If you’re dealing with anxiety or depression, contact a mental health professional.

Photo Credits: Courtesy images

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