Our cities provide us with an incredible abundance of culture, diversity and opportunity, however, fast paced and frantic living isn’t for everyone. Do you ever feel as if you're drowning amongst an ocean of people around you? Or feel anxious and unsettled in a crowded place? If so, then do not fear - these are all signs of being human! We are all complex and sensitive, which we often ignore when our surroundings are overwhelming. These 5 quick tips will help make non-stop city living a breeze. Without them, I’d definitely be living in a forest, away from all human contact, foraging for nuts.
1. Mindful breathing
Your breathing is everything. It's your lifeline. Breathing is often something we forget to notice but once we re-connect with ourselves and bring the attention back to our breath we instantly calm our nervous system. Start simple - listen to your natural rhythm of breath. Is it irregular? Do you feel tight chested? Tense in your shoulders? If so, start by taking 1 deep, slowly inhale, then count to 5 and then let go. Repeat until you feel a calming sense of stability. This may take practice, but boy is it worth it!
2. Keep a mantra or quote in your purse
When you are winding down after a long day in the city, write yourself a mantra or a note to keep in your purse or wallet so you can read it whenever you need, to gain some perspective. For example, the current note I have written is “You are safe, you are grounded and you are loved”. Keep it simple, with effective words that you might need to hear in that very moment. Give it a try - your future self will be deeply grateful!
3. Use your imagination
Perhaps you’re at your desk, on the tube or at the supermarket checkout. Suddenly, it hits you out of nowhere - a massive wave of anxiety. You are not able to step outside, there’s no time to find open space, no way to breathe in fresh air or connect with nature. Or so it may seem.. Go there in your mind. Imagine yourself in a meadow surrounded by wild flowers and trees. What can you hear? Picture your feet sinking into the grass and the sun on your skin. Why not even go back in time to a memory that makes you awash with happiness. Not only can this guide you to a calmer state of mind, but it also reinforces the fact that you are in control. Your mind is your anchor - use it to stop you drifting.
4. The power of music
Leave the world around you and escape into a safe place for 5-10 minutes. Plug in those headphones and listen to your favourite song. Perhaps even something soothing like the sounds of nature. You can find an array of ambient, relaxing playlists which you may prefer to use. Listen to every lyric, note and melody. Don’t let any of it pass you by. I personally like to listen to classical piano, as it reminds me of sitting in my Grandma’s house, eating freshly picked cherries.
5. Look up!
It’s not all skyscrapers and power lines. The sky is a perfect reminder that you are part of something much bigger and can help put your thoughts and worries into perspective. There is no ceiling above you. You are not trapped. Just start by following the clouds as they pass your vision and into the never ending blue canvas. Let them come and go freely. You’ve got this!
Finding calm is not always easy. In fact, it can even seem impossible at times. So if you are coming home after a testing day in the city, drained and achey, you might be feeling that this pace of life isn’t for you. But I hope that by giving these tips a read, you can see that this is not the case! By tuning in to your instincts and giving your mind some TLC, living amongst this concrete world can be a wonderful experience.
Have your own tips on how to find calm in the city? We’d love to hear them!