Self-Care for the Commuting New Yorker

 By Kristen Quinones, LMSW

New York City is known as the city that never sleeps for a reason. There is always so much to do and lots of great things going on. As wonderful as that can be, living in this city also means walking amongst large crowds of people and using mass transit as you go about your daily routine. This can be stressful and very emotionally overstimulating. Here are some ways to practice self-care around commuting.

  1. Plan Ahead

    Mass transit can be unreliable at times. Plan ahead and give yourself more of a time cushion to get to where you need to go. Even fifteen minutes can make a difference. If you get to your destination early, do some extra self-care! Grab a coffee or tea, watch an episode of your favorite show online, go for a walk, call a friend, or do anything that gives you a few minutes of relaxation! This can help you emotionally settle into your day with more peace of mind.
     
  2. Be Open to Change

    Rush hour commutes can be exhausting. Be open to change; try to travel more at off-peak hours.  Maybe go into work a bit early or leave an hour later if you have that flexibility. Try out a different mode of transit, maybe a different train or bus service. Mix it up and see if you can find alternative routes that are less crowded.
     
  3. Walk, Walk, Walk

    There are so many benefits to walking. Not only does it benefit your physical health, but it can benefit your mood and lower stress. Get off the train a stop early, walk a scenic route, or take a short walk whenever you can to give you an extra boost of energy and stress relief.
     
  4. Use Awareness as Mindfulness

    In New York City you have to constantly be aware of your surroundings to keep yourself safe and alert. This can be draining. Use your awareness as mindfulness. Mindfulness focuses on experience, keeping yourself in the moment, and using your five senses to ground you to the present. Focus on the live music you hear in the subway, take in the smell of food cooking when the train doors open at an above ground station, or observe what people are doing around you. If you need a good distraction from a stressful commute, you can also ground yourself in some reading or meditation.

Kristen Quinones, LMSW is a therapist at Cobb Psychotherapy. If you would like support in incorporating self-care into your life, contact Cobb Psychotherapy and see how therapy can help.