Depending on your temperament and preference, living in the city can either be a joy or a challenge (or a mixture of the two, if you’re anything like me). Mass urbanisation is a relatively new and growing occurrence that’s created living parameters which are a far cry from the conditions under which Homo sapiens evolved. Coping with a fast paced and unforgiving city lifestyle requires active measures to ensure that body, mind and soul are kept in balance. The 10 tips for a healthy lifestyle we’ll delve into in this post spring from my own experience adapting to living as a city rat with a country mouse heart.
10 tips for a healthy lifestyle in the city:
Get your fill of green space
Whether we think we need or like green space or not, we do subconsciously miss the deficit of foliage and open spaces that a more rural setting provides. Nature can have a calming effect on the nervous system and helps us reconnect to the here and now. The hustle and bustle of the city, on the other hand, is immensely distracting – we literally absorb the frenetic energy of the people and goings on around us. Therefore, making an effort to find some green space to hang out in several times a week (or daily, ideally) is so important to counterbalance the urban rush. If you live in London, you’re lucky: 47% of London is green space, according to Greenspace Information for Greater London.
Spend an hour outside each day
Hand in hand with getting green space, is getting outdoors. You might not have easy access to a green space, but getting some fresh(ish) air outdoors even amongst the concrete jungle is more beneficial than staying inside all day long. Opt for a jog outside instead of the treadmill at the gym, walk instead of taking a short bus ride or go for an aimless stroll around the block. We might have the excuse of bad weather here in the UK, but it’s during the miserable months that getting outside is even more important for overall good health.
Spend time with your community
Connecting with others plays a vital role in morale levels, mood and mental health. Human beings are social animals and when deprived of a supportive community can perish. Modern life is often socially compartmentalised. We often live away from family members, work remotely or choose to live alone. And even if we are surrounded by people all day it’s still possible to feel as if we’re alone. If you don’t do so already, get involved in a group activity around a shared interest or volunteer one half day or evening a week.
Avoid public transport
As mentioned in point number 1, it’s easy to absorb the stressful energy of millions of other stressed out humans in a busy city. And nowhere does this happen more effectively than on public transport. Now, we don’t expect you to give up public transport entirely (if you can, that’s brilliant), but try to avoid it whenever possible. Choose to shop and eat out locally, walk or cycle as much as possible and be clever about organising your week so that you can at least reduce the number of days on which you need to take public transport.
Cook meals from scratch
It might take that extra effort, but cooking from scratch is so much better for you and from an eco-conscious stand point. By cooking from scratch you ensure that you know exactly what’s in your food, it’s a wonderful stress reliever and you avoid the excessive packaging of take away and pre-prepared food. If you work in an office, consider bringing a home prepared packed lunch instead of grabbing a sandwich on the go.
Find time to meditate
No 10 tips for a healthy lifestyle blog post would be complete without meditation, whether you live in the city or countryside. If you’re a meditation newbie, there are loads of apps and guided meditations you can plug into. Check out this list of meditation and mindfulness apps for inspiration.
Make physical exercise a daily habit
When you’re mentally exhausted from modern living, it’s easy to mistake that feeling of tiredness for physical tiredness – and use it as an excuse not to exercise. We’ve all been there. If you’re able to break through the wall of resistance, you’ll find that exercise will revive and energise you. Otherwise exercise in the morning before you’re exhausted from the day. Start with a warm up to get you into it, or meditate before exercising to help you unplug from the mental tiredness. It works for us!
Get hands on and creative
Unless you’re lucky enough to work in a physical occupation, chances are much of your daily activity is cerebral. As such your poor hands are relegated to typing on smartphones or laptops. Very boring for your right brain. Can you introduce any hands on activity into your daily routine? Perhaps it’s simply cooking a meal from scratch (see point 5), baking on the weekend, knitting, drawing or gardening (even if it’s just your pot plants).
Air conditioning, central heating and rushing around all dehydrate us, without us realising it. Keeping hydrated is therefore essential for balancing the depleting effects of modern city life. Drink plenty of filtered water or herbal tea and keep soft drinks and caffeine to a minimum (coffee, tea and chocolate are powerful diuretics that dehydrate).
And, relax. Rest is a required aspect of living. Without it we can’t integrate all the activities to which we devote so much energy. We burn out, increase stress levels and impede ourselves from making healthy lifestyle choices. Without rest our lives are unsustainable. As well as getting in your zzz’s, find time for pauses within the day – over a cup of tea, for example.
What are your 10 tips for a healthy lifestyle? Do you have tried and tested routines or behaviours that keep you sane living in the city? We’d love to hear them: share your 10 tips for a healthy lifestyle in the comments below.