City Living: Mindful or Mindless?

As a long time city-dweller it’s hard to imagine life without the buzz that London brings. I often think about life before London out in the suburbs, or daydreaming about leaving the UK all together and I always find myself shivering at the idea of ever leaving the life I have grown to love here.

London has so much to offer that it allows people to be whatever they want to be at any stage of life. For me, it means that I can go and eat wherever I want, whenever I want. I can walk nearly everywhere and no matter how many times I walk the same route there is always something new to explore. The buzz of the city and the people around me give me that comfort when walking down the street, but there’s a silence I often find within myself, where I can feel totally alone, in a good way. The city really does keep me moving and I do find myself missing it when I leave, even for a very short space of time.

Most people who know me, know that I have history with anxiety and feelings of un-balance – Something that I haven’t quite mastered all the ins and outs of but doing my best to manage a day, week, month at a time. Those who know me will also know that about two years ago I quit my 9-5 city job and took myself off to travel the world, alone. It was absolutely the best time ofof my life and I probably think about my travelling days, almost everyday. I miss the experiences, the people and of course the freedom all the time but it has become more and more obvious to me that the biggest thing I miss are the ways of life in the countries I visited, the type of person I was in those six months and most importantly the way I felt.

One of my favourite yogi embassadors posted something this week that really resonated with me. We all know social media encourages us to view life through rose tinted glasses, me included. I think, rightly or wrongly, we follow people on social because we admire them, we want someone to look up to and show us the secret to living a happier life. Whether we know it or not, scrolling through hours of edited, aesthetically perfected and unrealistic posts cancompletely alter our sense of normality and our expectations of ourselves.

For a little while I have been struggling to find the patience, energy and confidence to keep my good habits up and look after myself mental wellbeing in the city, mainly struggling with consistency. One minute I’m all over it, practicing every day, eating to fuel my body, not my emotions and loving myself and those around me. The next I give up all hope and self belief and end up snapping, letting myself down and feeling guilty for days. In fact my mental state isusually the first thing to go off-piste and end’s up filtering into my everyday as stress or feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed. The hardest thing is I often feel like I’m the only one that feels like this and I find myself wondering whether these people in the media know something I don’t, a secret only given to those who work hard enough for it! How are they so disciplined? How do they find things so easy? Why can’t I be like them and not give up?

 

   

 

When I came back to the UK and moved to London, the excitement of the new and unknown kept me going and still does, don’t get me wrong, but I now notice the stark contrast of London to places like New Zealand, Sydney, Bali and California – all of which hold their own very special place in my heart. The difference between these places for me is the speed of life. When I travelled I was able to allow myself time to slow down, not just for a ten minute meditation, not for an hour yoga class or to read a book. Day to day life was slower, more conscious, more connected and I admit I often feel the challenges of finding these in a place like London, where the rat race is ever intensifying, the sheer volume of people around you everyday is growing and expectation from both employers, strangers, the world of social is ever weighing on our shoulders.

The social media post addressed exactly this – it spoke about the difficulties of settling back in London after travelling across the world. It described London as “the most intense and disconnected place” and how frightening it was at “how quickly you can adapt and become desensitised to it’s abrupt, fast and unconscious way”. I sat and read this over and over again over several days, smiling with relief because I couldn’t have explained it better myself.

Always remember to take time for yourself and listen to your mind and body, no matter where you are. City life can be hard and doesn’t always promote mindful decisions but rest assured there is no secret to being happy, everyone feels the struggle, and it’s how you set your own definition of healthy that counts – do the things you need, not what you see everyone else doing. It’s always okay to slow down and take it all in – who knows, you might learn something if you take the time to stop scrolling, googling or texting and look around.

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