CITY LIVING CAN WREAK HAVOK ON YOUR MIND, BODY & SOUL
Combat It With Traditional Chinese Medicine
If you’re an urban dweller, you’re constantly surrounded by sirens, smog, and probably smug attitudes, too. While all that might become less impactful as you get used to it, the stress and environmental pollutants can take a toll on your mind and body over time. In fact, many studies have shown that people born and raised in cities have higher rates of psychosis, anxiety disorders, and depression.
Additionally, another study compared city folks to rural dwellers and revealed that those from the city tend to be far more reactive to social criticism. Participants were asked to carry out difficult math tasks while being criticized harshly for errors. City dwellers showed greater activity in the amygdala (the part of the brain that regulates emotional responses) than those from the countryside, indicating they were having to process and regulate rather than brush it off. Shocking, isn’t it! You would think that people dealing with the daily grind of city living would be far less affected by this, but it turns out your mind and body doesn’t really get used to the constant demands, threats and alerts from city life
So what’s a city dweller to do? We’ve got a few TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) approved strategies to help you cope.
Meditation is one of the fastest ways to calm the mind and the body. It’s known to cause a significant reduction of stress and can be done anywhere. It’s like a soothing blanket that you never leave home without. #winning
Just take a seat in a quiet(ish) place, and focus on your breath. Now, take a deep breath in and imagine all of that air being tinged with the color that represents positivity to you. Imagine it going deep down into your belly and all the way down to your toes. Then, as you exhale, imagine it’s taking the negativity with it. Pick a color that represents that well for you and watch as your breath removes all that yuckiness. You can do this in your parked car, on the subway (with headphones), or in the office. You’ll find that the things that have been causing your stress to spike won’t have the same sting after a few deep meditative breaths.
Nope, We’re not talking about reducing your carbon footprint (even though that’s a great idea). We’re talking about going outside and enjoying nature. A new study has found that exposure to nature, even in small doses, can help lower your risk of developing high blood pressure and depression. It can also improve cognitive function.
City parks offer a perfect escape! You may want to consider living near a park or in an area that has some forested areas nearby. Easy access is always best!
Treat Your Feet
You run to catch the train, hike up umteen sets of stairs, and walk 6 city blocks for that really good cup of coffee every day. Needless to say, this does a number on your feet. Not only will a foot massage feel oh-so-good, it will also alleviate stress! According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the feet connect to the earth, providing an entry point for nature’s energy to come into the body. Through the feet, this energy is circulated to our internal organs which are responsible for stress management.
Aside from the feel good factor, the list of benefits for foot massages is longer than you would expect since there are so many pressure points in the feet that can trigger healing. Foot massages can help to improve your circulation, reduce headaches, anxiety, depression, and PMS symptoms.
Put simply, exercise causes your brain to release of endorphins and endorphins make you happy. And who doesn’t love happy. A favorite go-to is yoga given it’s a proven stress reducer. Plus, there’s a version for everyone no matter what your skill level. In all types, however, the constant is that the mind and body are always connected. While the postures can improve strength and flexibility, the focus is on moving with your breath and being present in the moment.
If you’d like to try something a little more outside the box, we suggest Qi Gong. It still focuses on the mind/body connection, but as part of the martial arts family, it can really get your heart racing.
Have an Escape Plan
When all else fails, vacate the city. If your mom’s been on you about coming home for a visit, take her up on it. It’ll make her day, and we’d bet you’ll find the slower pace and family connections will be just what you need. Other options – attend a retreat,rent a cabin in the mountains, or pop to a beach for a little sand and sun.. Consider turning off your phone to enhance the chill factor. There’s nothing like disconnecting from the world for a little R&R. You’ll come back refreshed and feeling fresh as a daisy.
Try to focus on your physical and mental health each day so you don’t get to a place where you feel stressed or run down. Making good daily choices will avoid a massive meltdown later…