City Guide: 7 Tips For Finding Your NYC Zen
A friend and I were recently talking about our heightened level of anxiety upon moving to NYC. What is it about this city that makes people so stressed? Is everyone here just pretending to hold it together but silently freaking out on the inside? Probably.
So, in an attempt to balance myself back to an LA-level of stress, I've adopted a few new rituals since moving to NYC. Below, you'll find 7 tactics that have helped me become more mindful and feel a bit more grounded while living in this crazy city.
7 TIPS FOR FINDING YOUR NYC ZEN
1. Round Out Your ClassPass Cycle With Restorative Yoga
I'll be honest. Restorative yoga is basically organized nap time. But, in a city that is constantly go-go-go, sometimes you need to pay someone to tell you to lay on a mat, breathe in and out, and just relax. It's a forced hour of no screen time, and the productivity (and inspiration!) it provides afterwards is worth every penny. In fact, the first draft of this blog post was a product of post-restorative yoga. After a few weeks of writer's block, all it took was 1 hour of not thinking to get the juices flowing.
Long story short, restorative yoga is all the good parts of yoga (breathing, meditating, group ommm-ing) and none of the bad parts (contorted positions held for longer than desired, sweating, etc. etc. ). So if you're in search for a little more zen, I highly recommend starting here.
2. Deplete Your Bank Account With A Daily Matcha Latte
After I quit coffee (long story, which really deserves its own blog post), I somehow managed to convince my morning brain that English Breakfast tea is actually just watery espresso. However, for that afternoon pick-me-up, matcha lattes have become my go-to drink. While they're an acquired taste, there are enough neo-hipster spots in the city that offer the option to at least try it out. Matcha is known to not only provide a more steady dose of caffeine (think: no coffee jitters) but also boost concentration and promote relaxation.
But buyer beware, not all matcha lattes are created equal. If you're not careful, you'll get a weird powdery green drink that only somewhat resembles green tea, so Yelp-ing ahead of time may save yourself a wasted $5. I'm in the process of compiling my favorite matcha spots in the city, with my #1 so far being Chalait.
3. Walk A Block—Or Five—During Your Lunch Break
I'm a huge believer in taking ideally 30 minutes each day to get away from my desk. This doesn't always work out, but it's something to aim for. For me, it's a huge productivity booster and makes me a happier and better employee. It's also a nice reminder that there's a whole world out there that doesn't consist florescent lighting or screens or ping pong tables. One of the things I really love about working in Manhattan is how, no matter how stressful the day may be, the city is always just an elevator ride away. And walk 1 Manhattan block and you'll quickly be reminded that things could be way weirder. If that doesn't provide a little inner peace, I don't know what will.
4. Invest In A Good Face Mist
Stressed? Face mist. Dry skin? Face mist. Need to quickly distract yourself from having a total meltdown? Face mist. I'm obsessed with Glossier's Rosewater Spray or this Lavender Honey Balancing Mist from Naturopathica. Both are great for setting makeup in the morning and are also perfect for a little midday refresh. Plus, the rose and lavender scents are v. calming.
5. Hang All The Twinkle Lights
This one isn't new for me. In every apartment I've lived in, the second the holidays role around, twinkly lights come up and don't come down until I moved out of said apartment (3 places and counting, so there's definitely a pattern here). Twinkle lights or candles, can make a small space feel more cozy and I highly recommend in investing in a string of these or these to add a relaxing finishing touch to any room.
6. Replace That Nightly Glass Of Red With Herbal Tea
Wine is great. We all love wine. But, I can no longer drink like I did in college and pretend hangovers don't exist. Plus, although a nice glass of red may relax me the night of, I've recently become victim to this weird next-day anxiety after drinking. So, in an effort to be more health conscious and less stressed, I've started to replace my evening glass of wine with herbal tea. I've even gone so far as to not keep wine in my apartment, only drinking when I'm willing to pay $15 for a less-than-generous restaurant pour.
7. Hold Your Judgement And Just Start Sage Smudging
Okay, I'll admit this one might be a hard sell as it's the most "mystical" on this list. But it's probably one of the most important rituals I've developed while seeking my own NYC Zen. Believe it or not—7 years in LA and I never once burned sage. However, after reading this article on MyDomaine, I decided to give it a try and have become loyal to the practice ever since.
Reader's digest version: Sage smudging is an ancient practice that involves burning a bundle of sage and using the smoke to essentially "cleanse" the energy in space. Before you roll your eyes, sage has great health benefits and studies have shown that burning the herb can actually reduce bacteria in the air. Anecdotally though, I've found the practice to be a great stress reliever and nice way to take some time each week to be a little more mindful.
So there you have it—my 7 tips for attempting to become a more calm and composed New Yorker! A little irony, intended. #8 on the list would have been meditation, but this one is still a work-in-progress.
For now, these habits—big or small—have been helping me find my center in the city that never sleeps. Hope they're useful to you as well!