You get up and you realize you slept through your alarm. You take a deep breath and run toward the fridge to quickly supply yourself with much needed energy, but you realize one of your roommates ate the last of your organic hand-made local granola. You mutter some passive-aggressive things under your breath and run to the shower. You keep knocking aimlessly at the locked door, while Nicole is yelling Taylor Swift songs from inside. You cringe at her music choice, wipe away a tear of despair, and get going.
You think things are going to get better, but your MetroCard was out of money, your ATM card got jammed in the machine, and the subway car doors closed right in front of your face. You wait for the G train for 45 minutes and when you finally get inside you’re harassed by a homeless person singing Broadway musical snippets, who smells like a dumpster and passionately licks your hand as you internally scream. When you get to your unpaid internship, you find out Donald Trump is the president-elect and your mother texts you, “Honey, you’re coming to Ohio for thanksgiving xoxo.” You try not to have a mental breakdown when your boss comes in and says, “We can’t afford an employee, but you can intern another trimester if you’d like,” so you walk out and scream “FUCK! FUCK! FUCK!”
So, if you can relate, hell yeah you’re a stressed out New Yorker. But don’t worry, we’ve got some mad relaxing activities for you to pull yourself back together into a functioning human being.
“Being in a restorative state means allowing your body and mind to be in a state that is between being awake and being asleep. With simple exercises, we can create the conditions for our system to bring itself back to its natural state.”
Scientifically speaking, The American Psychological Association (APA) released a report on the levels of stress of New Yorkers, stating 29 percent of New Yorkers report an average stress level to be 8, 9, or 10 on a 10-point scale. That’s a lot of constant stress.
New Yorkers’ stress levels on the job are more negatively impacted than other employees in the US; we see jobs as significant sources of stress, including job insecurity, low salaries and inflexible hours, as well as housing costs.
How does stress affect us? Stress has a wide variety of effects, both emotional and physical. The extra amount of cortisol, the “stress hormone,” that our body starts to produce under riveting circumstances can lower sexual drive, cause anxiety and depression, induce fast loss of weight or fast weight gain, and even heart attacks.
If you don’t feel like dying or being a depressed mope, try out restorative yoga and guided meditation. Erin Joan Lamberty started practicing yoga when she was stressing over her demanding job in advertisement; soon after she became a Brooklyn-based vinyasa and restorative yoga teacher.
“Yoga is a form of moving meditation and practicing allows me to get out of my head and focus on my body and breath,” Lamberty explains. “My practice not only helped me to chill out, but I learned how to listen to my body and heart, which ended up guiding me towards a career transition and making healthier lifestyle choices overall.”
Courtesy of Erin Joan Lamberty’s yoga blog.
Lamberty starts off her day with 10 to 15 minutes of meditation each morning to set the tone for the day and to help her stay focused. Even though she believes in Netflix marathons, bottomless brunches and lazy days in bed, she emphasizes that there is mindful relaxation for everyone in different forms: yoga, guided meditation, watching the waves roll in at Coney Island beach, or even simply going for a walk without your phone.
“Mindful relaxation is like hitting the restart button on your internal systems. It’s planned track maintenance for your body and mind. But unlike the MTA, we don’t plan it very often,” she says.
Being in a restorative state means allowing your body and mind to be in a state that is between being awake and being asleep. With simple exercises, we can create the conditions for our system to bring itself back to its natural state. While returning back to a natural state, it is also easier to deal with emotional weight and underlying problems, which will start to surface. By learning to think clearly and effectively, we can channel healing vibes to our own selves and rebuild, while slowly taking apart the causes of our stress and accepting what we cannot change when living in a busy city like New York.
“NYC is a stimulating place! The energy is great for creating, connecting, and making stuff happen. But the always on, go go go attitude can be taxing on our nervous systems,” admits Lamberty. “Taking time to intentionally relax and reset the body and mind with practices like meditation and yoga can counterbalance the physical and psychological stresses of city life.”
With stress factors piling up and little available outlets for city dwellers, Lamberty teaches 30 minutes of pure zen surrounded by felines (which are scientifically proven to reduce stress as well, meow!) at Koneko Cat Café.
If you’re allergic to fluffers, the yoga pop-up scene has been growing in the city as well. As popupyoga-nyc.com put it, “We believe in yoga for everybody. We provide unique, curated, and experiential lifestyle events that incorporate health and wellness outside of the traditional studio setting.”
You can also tune in with The Big Quiet, which creates large mass meditation sessions in unique places. Recently, they did a zen sesh at The Oculus at the World Trade Center and it was an inspiring, beautiful ceremony.
Courtesy of @thebigquiet.
Kitty meditation, audio guides, walking alone along the boardwalk—whatever works for you—start restoring before New York gives you a big fat heart attack.