Don’t Let New York City Get to You

New York city
Photo by Joshua Earle

New York City draws people in, and it’s not hard to see why. This big, thrilling city seems to have the best of everything — including, for many of us, the best of us. We believe that New York City can draw out the person that we’re meant to be, whether that person is a brilliant artist or a hard-charging finance pro.

We have to be careful, though. Because while New York City may be great at drawing out those qualities in us, it’s also great at driving us out of our minds. This is a stressful place, and it can be a depressing place, too. New York City serves up huge challenges, and it never seems eager to give us a break. So how can you navigate New York City living without letting the big city beat you down? The secrets are below.

How to make friends in the big city

New York City is home to about 8.5 million people. That’s a lot of people. Unfortunately, the overwhelming majority of those people are strangers — and they’re likely to stay that way.

Making friends can be surprisingly difficult in New York City. Apparently, having lots of people around can actually be a hindrance to meeting and making friends. But don’t be intimidated. It’s OK to chat up people in bars and other social spaces (just use your common sense, read their verbal and nonverbal cues, and don’t try this stuff on the subway). And you’ll meet like-minded people if you join social groups that mirror your interest. Maybe your new best friend is waiting for you on the softball team or in the bird-watching club.

Know when to say no

When you’re a part of a thriving social group in New York City, you’ll discover one of this cities biggest challenges: FOMO. Combine healthy friendships with an unhealthy place — the city that never sleeps, where the bars are open until 4 a.m. — and you have a recipe for exhaustion. And don’t forget that your work is likely to be demanding here, too: New Yorkers are notorious for working long hours.

To survive, you’ll have to learn how to say no. There’s a big, beautiful city out there, but if you want to protect your mental health (not to mention your budget), you’ll need to take the occasional night in with a bottle of seltzer and your Netflix queue.

Finding your space

New York City is short on personal and private spaces. But if you can find a place that makes you comfortable and, ideally, gives you a little privacy, then you’ll be much better equipped to survive this crazy city. Why not explore one of the city’s many parks? Some nice secluded spots are out there just waiting to be found.

Protecting your sleep

New York City’s nonstop energy — and the bright lights and noise that go with it — can be murder on your sleep. New Yorkers are chronically sleep-deprived, which probably helps explain why everyone seems so stressed-out and rude. If you take steps to defend your sleep, you may find that New York City isn’t as stressful as you thought it was back when you were tired all of the time. Keep your space quiet (earplugs and white noise machines are your friends), dark (blackout curtains or a sleep mask will help), and comfortable (get a real mattress and throw out that futon). Avoid booze before bed, and try to wake up and go to sleep at the same times every day.

Caring for your mind

Surviving New York City’s stress takes smart daily decision-making. It also takes professional care. Therapy is a great option for New Yorkers, and it’s not just for those of us who have diagnosable mental health disorders, one respected NYC therapist explains. Cognitive behavioral therapy will give you new insights into your thought and behavioral patterns, helping you to craft the mind and the life that you want. That will make it a lot easier to survive New York City.

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