By Milly Kelly, Health/Beauty Editor
Recently the Royal Town Planning Institute issued an article outlining the extensive impact that our environment has on our physical and mental health. Turns out that urban areas can and do cause some serious problems for us city dwellers, meaning we are literally surrounded by things that could adversely effect our health in many ways, not least obesity, heart disease, stress and depression – which sucks.
So what can one do to rectify this? Obviously as much as some people may like to, you can’t just up and leave and move to the country (well you can, but you probably have to be a person of quite considerable means) and the buildings around you sure aren’t going to do that either (then it wouldn’t be the city…or reality) so other adjustments must be made.
Fear not! Here are five ways to stay happy and healthy in the city:
- Go Green. Spending time in green spaces is really good for your mental health. Go to your nearest park, take or walk or bring a book and find a nice bench. Make time in your week to go somewhere grassy and go get green.
- Make a change. The repetitive nature as well as the surroundings of your daily commute can have adverse effects on your happiness so change it up a little. If you know there’s a more attractive route to work then take it, even if it means getting up or setting off earlier than you normally would. You don’t have to do it every day (and especially not hangover days) but at least once a week, sack off the usual commute and take the prettier route. Even with the earlier start you’ll feel a whole lot more energised when you arrive at your destination!
- Notice the little things. Every city has it’s special idiosyncrasies, little hints at the history of the place you live, a crooked old church squigged between two high-rise office buildings, a wee gargoyle poking it’s cheeky head out of somewhere completely unexpected, even a bit of snazzy graffiti or a ridiculous street name. Look for these things, remember them, laugh at them, Instagram them, whatever, just notice them. Actively find more enjoyment in your surroundings.
- Get gardening! Even if you don’t have a garden, do a window box or hanging baskets or something. Participate in improving your own environment by making it more natural and more beautiful. I know I sound like my mother-in-law when I say this but gardening is genuinely fun. When a little seed pushes it’s way through the soil and then sprouts leaves and flowers and everything, it’s such a sense of bloody achievement! You made something live! And remember point one – green is good.
- Get away. Escape for the weekend a couple of times, grab a picnic and go and find a big space to run around in (clothed or otherwise, your choice). It’ll be good for your health to get away and when you return you’ll appreciate home more (well you may not, but there’s always next weekend).
Now go fourth into the big grey city and go get happy!