“I could never live here,” I said to my friend who lives in Bangkok. I had just returned to her apartment after being out in the city’s traffic, concrete and high-rises. In town only a few days, the intensity of the large urban landscape was already affecting my psyche. By the end of my six-week stay, however, some of the edge had worn off. What had changed?
I connected with a community of like-minded people. According to research, group clustering does not change with the scope of a city. What this means is that a person can create social networks no matter the size of the city. Get out and go to places and events that you love, you’re bound to make friends. Studies indicate that having friends in your life increases your sense of belonging and happiness.
Let the Sun Shine
I made some time to sit in the sunlight every day. In last month’s issue, I wrote about the importance of getting adequate sunlight. City living usually involves spending a lot of time indoors. Seek out the sun and bask in its nurturing energy to get your necessary dose of vitamin D, thus elevating the levels of your happy hormone, serotonin.
The Great Outdoors
Not only did I bask in the sun, I took my work outside and benefited from the improved levels of concentration that comes with spending time outdoors. I also walked and sought out green space, thereby naturally reducing my stress levels.
With the hustle and bustle of urban living, it can sometimes be a while between visits to natural settings. The actions I took above allowed me to relax into my big city retreat and appreciate Nature’s offerings nonetheless.
Some other ways to maintain a connection to Nature and reap the positive psychological benefits are to:
— Exercise outdoors
— Commute on foot or by bicycle
— Shop at the local farmers’ market
— Raise a fruit, herb or vegetable plant in your home or office
— Decorate your walls and computers with nature photos and screen savers
Take a Timeout
City life is full of stimuli, and although we may not realise it, the constant influx of information to our senses results in stress to the body, mind and spirit. Take the time to disengage from the external world. Create a few moments of sacred time each day to instill a sense of inner peace that is both calming and restorative.
It’s only upon concluding this article and taking another look at my outdoor surroundings — observing the rooftop park that I’m sitting in — that I realise I’m back in Bangkok. I’m at peace with the touch of the breeze, the sound of the birds and the trickle of the pool. The traffic din is barely noticeable in my reverie.
Karen Gay, A-Roaming Bodyworker, is a holistic health practitioner practicing in Hanoi. For information on the types of services provided, visit a-roamingbodyworker.com