It’s no surprise that living in the city that never sleeps (seriously, you can get fresh cookies delivered at 3am) can cause even the sanest person’s anxiety levels to go shooting through the roof at times. And considering there’s very few 100% sane New Yorkers, it’s safe to say that most of us need a little help calming the f*@$ down at times. While there’s the more traditional routes of therapy and the occasional Xanex to aid in this issue, below I’ve corralled up a few of my tried and true tricks to keep calm, and (quite literally) carry on.
1. Writing a to-do list of my lingering tasks RIGHT before I go to bed.
I find that when I have trouble sleeping, it’s usually because I’m going over things in my head that are still undone. Rather than lay there and turn over all the things I need to get done the next day (call the doctor! return library books! send someone a wedding gift!), I keep a notebook next to my bed and jot down all those lingering tasks, getting it out of my head and onto the paper to be checked off the following day. I honestly find I sleep SO much better after doing this.
2. Use lavender essential oil in my diffuser.
Smell is probably my strongest sense, and because of this I find I take exceptionally well to essential oils. If I’m in the house for longer than 2 hours at a time, I always have scented candles burning. Since falling asleep to a burning candle isn’t ideal, I put about 20 drops of lavender essential oil in my diffuser that doubles as a humidifier. The delightful, calming scent, combined with the soothing sound of the mist coming out is enough to lull me straight to sleep. And tip: you can put one of these at your office desk to achieve the same calming effect throughout the workday.
3. Go to a Tai Chi class.
Tai Chi is something I only recently discovered. I think I always equated it before to standing yoga? But it’s completely different. In yoga, I actually break a sweat and feel sore the next day, whereas Tai Chi is really more about slow, intentional movements, breathing, and focus (so maybe a bit like standing meditation…?) After an hour session, I feel not only more relaxed, but like I have SO much more energy. The best part? There’s currently free classes being held outside at Bryant Park through the summer, Tuesday and Thursday mornings at 7:30am, rain and shine. Or, you can try out a class at the CK Chu Tai Chi Center near Times Square.
4. Get a cheap massage.
NYC is filled with spots for cheap massages–just go to Chinatown (Mess Look Spa on Bowery Street is currently my favorite, which I’ve written about before here), or your local nail salon, where they will usually do a 10 minute chair massage for $10. There’s a massage school in the East 30’s that does a 50 minute massage for $25…or $10 if you have a student ID! I swear, it’s the best money I’ve spent to maintain my inner-calm over the years;-)
5. Spoon a little Natural Calm into your water.
Natural Calm is like the natural Xanex, guys. It’s basically Magnesium, which is a mineral that relaxes muscles and provides fantastic sleep. We don’t typically get enough of this in our regular diets (you can find it in dark, leafy greens, flaxseeds, almonds, salmon, and avocado, so if you want to go even MORE natural than a supplement, those are great places to start!) It’s important to note that Natural Calm is not a sleep aid, so it won’t conk you out, but it really does relax you (i.e. totally safe to use during the day if you need a little assistance keeping calm.)
6. Leave 15 minutes earlier than my app says I need to.
One of my hugest stressors is being late. Honestly, I have had times where I started having heart palpitations if I was late for work or a meeting or even a mommy and me class;-) I totally realize this is not a stressor for everyone (haha, I’m married to someone who thinks being 15 minutes late is on time;-), but if it happens to be YOUR stressor and you live in NYC–a little trick I do is check my Google Maps, and then whatever time it tells me to leave, I plan on leaving 15 minutes ahead of time. Worst case scenario is I’m early, but this just provides time to dive into a book or podcast, so it’s actually a little blessing in disguise.
7. Remember, this too, shall pass.
Okay, I know, TOTALLY cliche, but this little phrase has gotten me through a lot. Whether it’s a speech in front of a huge crowd of people, or a new baby who doesn’t sleep for more than 2 hours at a time (or a toddler;-), or the stress of finding a new apartment to live in before your lease ends, or a terrible bout of the flu…it can feel HUGE in the moment, life consuming, in fact. But it passes, it always does, so keep on chanting and carry on. And if that doesn’t help, there’s always Xanex;-)
Here’s to staying calm in the city!
Would love to know…what are your secret weapons for staying calm?