Let’s face it, New York City is a stressful place. The cost of living is high, the pace is frenetic, the cabbies are always honking, and the crowds can be overwhelming. Add in a summer of tourists, hundred-degree days, and ninety-percent humidity, and of course your anxiety level is going to rise.
Take a long, cleansing breath and rid yourself of all those exhaust fumes. Then consider these five ways to stay stress-free this summer in the Big Apple.
Seek Out Silence
Noise can be very grating and contribute to our stress and anxiety levels. It’s very difficult to avoid some level of noise in the city. In fact, Midtown South comes out on top in terms of filed complaints and overall noise pollution in Manhattan. Cars, crowds, and construction are unavoidable, though you may find some relief in neighborhoods with fewer noise complaints like the Upper East Side, or away from the street-edges of Central Park.
A better and more geographically neutral solution is to create your own oasis of calm. Use earbuds, whether you’re listening to music or not. If you do prefer to listen to music, choose tunes that are calming rather than raucous. Consider listening to the ambient noise of lapping waves during your morning walk to the subway, or turn your commute into a gentle meditation while listening to water running over rocks.
Seek Out Space
Times Square in July may not be the best place to go if you’re looking to relieve stress. There are too many tourists and too many Elmos vying for attention. Instead, seek out the less-tourist-popular wide-open spaces of the outer boroughs if you need to stretch out your arms without hitting anyone. Consider the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, the Bronx Zoo, the Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, or the 250-acre New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx.
Seek Out Air Conditioning
If the heat and humidity are causing you anxiety, you don’t have to leave the city to find some relief. Plenty of public spaces offer a respite from the worst of a heat wave. Consider taking a ride on the Staten Island Ferry, popping in to the Oculus downtown, wandering through the Chelsea Market, admiring the ceiling of the Grand Central Terminal, ordering a coffee at the Atrium at Lincoln Center, or spending an hour or two in one of the many local art museums.
Seek Out Exercise
Regular, vigorous exercise is a great stress-reducer. If you can’t stand the idea of running through a sweaty afternoon, consider waking up a little early to jog before the full heat of the day. If you’ve got a gym membership, now’s the time to take advantage of the air conditioning to get some strength training done. If money is tight, check out these places in NYC where you can drop in to a class and work out for $25 or less.
Seek An Escape
A getaway is the perfect way to shake off the stress of day-to-day city living. Consider hopping on a train north to the Hudson Valley for the many craft and music festivals that take place along the river. Check out the Hot Air balloon festival in Rhinebeck, the Putnam County Wine & Food Festival, or the Hudson Valley Brassroots Festival in Kingston. If you don’t want to wander too far from the city, there’s always Coney Island, Brighton Beach, and the Rockaways.
Learning to cope with everyday stress is a vital life skill, but sometimes it can be overwhelming. If you need help dealing with anxiety that is affecting your quality of life, never hesitate to contact a mental health professional.