How Will an Urban Environment Affect Your Mental Health?
In 2015, in the midst of high anxiety, I moved to the city of San Francisco in hopes of understanding my mental health better. The move scared me as I figured three things may happen:
● My anxiety may be heightened by the number of people.
● My depression would leave me feeling isolated in a sea of social opportunity.
● Maybe other mental illnesses would arise through such a change in lifestyle.
Now, three years later, I’ve overcome much and I’ve learned a great deal as to how certain people may react to an urban environment.
Just like with anywhere you live, there are pros and cons to be considered in terms of mental health. Some places offer a natural serenity which can benefit one in many regards but can also isolate them to points of loneliness. Other places will be fast-moving, loud, and sometimes obscene, but may make one feel more a part of something.
Are you considering to make the big move? Do you wonder what possibilities are held in such an environment? This article will look into both the pros and cons of moving into the city while handling mental health. From having better access to the most professional medical facilities to handling higher noise pollution.
Why Are You Moving?
Before you make the move - or even consider the move - you should really ask yourself why you’re doing this? Is it for a career opportunity? To be placed in a more social environment? To run away from past negative experiences?
The reason this is important is because a high expectation for yourself can play serious risk to your mental health. Especially, if those expectations aren’t met. With that, mental health problems have the chance of worsening.
For example, in an urban environment, there’s a much wider availability of drugs. This can leave some individuals with mental health more prone to substance abuse. It’s important to note that if you handle mental health like I used to, you’ll use drugs as an excuse for self-medication.
With this in mind, keep considering your goals and what you’ll have to do in order to reach them. Whether it’s working a minimum wage part-time job or making materialized sacrifices, just know what you’re coming up against.
Ultimately, the city environment is one of the biggest things you’re going to have to consider. You might think it’s obvious what that environment is like, but what isn’t obvious is the way in which you react to it.
For example, there’s a strong increase in brain stimuli (or thought patterns) when you move into the city. For people with anxiety, this can be threatening. For people with ADHD, there are risks involved when the mind is already racing regardless.
Along with increased stimuli, there’s also a lack of protection when it comes to certain aspects of city living. For example, I was working two food jobs (plus my freelance writing) and going to school full time. This left my leisure time small and unprotected as I constantly had to be somewhere.
Furthermore, you’re never really alone in a city. Your privacy starts to lose shape when you’re constantly surrounded by others and keeping that image in mind you have when you’re around people. This leads some individuals to feel less safe while others may have trouble sleeping in such an environment.
One of the biggest reasons people move to the city is to meet new people. As mentioned, this is partly due to the fact that people are trying to leave behind whatever they had back home. While others just want to further their network of people.
Still, it should be understood, developing meaningful relationships with others takes time. Trust and connection don’t just come out of nowhere. Due to the fact that there’s an overstimulation of people in a city, some might get the notion that most of those they meet might not have an everlasting relationship. Even more so is, due to a lack of privacy, some may feel reluctant to engage in social interaction.
These problems can bring upon mental health issues to certain individuals. Especially those who may face social discrimination or prejudice as these become bigger problems in a city.
Everyone works differently and everyone handles mental health differently. Therefore, some people will benefit from living in an urban environment while others will not. The most important thing to consider is how your mental health will reach to all the factors mentioned in this article. You understand yourself better than anyone else and you’ll understand if city living is right for you.
And to be fair, there’s no reason you can’t simply give it a test. Live there for a month or so and see how it makes you feel. No reason to jump into a city life without having a little experience under your belt.
Written by Paul James