Dealing With Mental Health in the City
2 million Londoners will experience mental health problems this year; and only 25% of these people will actively deal with their difficulties, according to the London Health Board. Living in the city can be much more stressful and mentally draining than living outside urban areas. City-specific stressors such as noise, lack of natural spaces and increased social interaction make us much more susceptible to mental health issues. Living in the city provides excitement, freedom, and opportunities; however, we have to remember to slow down, become aware of its effects on our mind, and care for our mental well-being.
The City’s Effect On Our Mental Well-Being
In urban areas, the main issue is over-stimulus. Excess noise, the lack of open and green spaces, constant interactions with people either directly at work or passively on the tube; they all keep our senses on edge. According to a study conducted by King’s College, London, the heightened biological response to stressors causes an excess in dopamine; which is one of the main causes of mental illnesses like schizophrenia or depression. Too much dopamine makes us more susceptible to many negative and dissonant feelings such as anxiety, stress, and paranoia. To compensate for all the over-excitement that city living provides, we must find the time to unwind and meditate; and allow these dopamine levels to return to their normal levels.
How We Can Care For Our Minds Through Meditation
Being subject to all these additional stressors, it is necessary for our minds to have down-time in the midst of urban life. We must allow our minds to enter their natural, meditative states on a much more regular basis; and the practice of meditation offers a holistic and accessible solution. Whether it’s through beginner’s classes, drop-in sessions or one-off retreats, there are many different methods of incorporating meditation into our daily practices – even for busy city-dwellers.
Meditation not only gives our senses a break, returning us to our core state of relaxation; it also teaches us how to reduce the dissonance when experiencing city life through breathing techniques and mindfulness. Meditation repairs the parts of our mind that have become desensitised to direct and visceral experience, whilst simultaneously helping with symptoms of schizophrenia, depression, stress and anxiety.
City life can have an unavoidable, negative affect on our mental health. The over-stimulus of urban living and working can unconsciously take its toll on our minds, resulting in feelings of anxiety, and can even lead to much deeper set mental illness. However, by incorporating meditation into our regular routines – be it a morning exercise or a way to unwind after work – we can care for our minds whilst still functioning in the bustling city.
This post was kindly written for us by Lucy Lucas.