Living in a compact apartment within walking distance of work, school, and shopping, biking or using public transit, experiencing unique city culture and venues — these things characterize the urban lifestyle many people prefer. Although it’s unlikely to affect city dwellers’ enthusiasm for it, the urban lifestyle introduces unique pitfalls including the temptation to over-caffeinate, overeat, over-tech, and be inactive. If you’re committed to the urban lifestyle long-term, finding a balance between enjoying the perks of city life without overindulging in them is important to your sense of well-being. Here are some ways you might be able find that balance, starting now.
Coffee, Coffee, Coffee
If you live in an urban area, there are bound to be at least a dozen coffee shops within walking distance. After you’ve found your perfect little coffee place, it’s easy to get into a routine of stopping by once, twice, or even three times a day. At $4 or more for each gourmet espresso, not only is this an easy way to go broke, but over-caffeinate. How do you know if you’re overdoing it? Ideally, you should consume only 2 cups a day. If you start getting jitters, can’t get to sleep easily, get headaches when you miss a ‘dose’, or experience other symptoms of overload/caffeine addiction, you need to reduce your intake. Here are a few suggestions:
- Eat something with your coffee to avoid jitters and energy spikes. This will help balance your energy level, and naturally reduce your ‘need’ for extra coffee because you’re filling your body with energy-providing nutrients.
- Make coffee at home. Now that there are Keurigs and Verismos, time is no longer an excuse to save money and drink your java with less artificial ingredients (for a healthier energy boost, try bullet-proof coffee.) Having to make it yourself will also be a reminder of how much you’re consuming.
Fast Food, Takeout, Restaurants
Fast food, takeout, and more restaurants than you can count is another advantage that can easily get out of hand. Limit your consumption of convenience food to certain days when you won’t have time to cook, and set aside time each weekend to meal plan, buy groceries, and prep for the busy week ahead. You’ll be healthier and enjoy your dining out that much more.
The Sedentary Life?
Urban lifestyles naturally encourage more walking, right? Even if you start out walking, the convenience of taking public transportation may eventually wear away your good intentions, especially in bad weather. Getting out and enjoying all the fresh air you can is vital if you’re committed to living in the city, so bundle up, take an umbrella, and look at every opportunity to walk as a privilege rather than an obligation.
- At work. Whether you’re working at home or in the office, try to stand up and walk around as much as possible to increase blood flow, improve alertness, ward off aches and pains, and maintain your back health.
- Standing Desks. If you have a job that requires long hours of computer input, opt for a standing desk that allows you to type without sitting in a chair. Just make sure you’re using it correctly.
- On the phone. Some people enjoy using a headset so they can walk around and do other things while on the phone with customers or a long-winded friend.
- Watching T.V. If you’re really committed to moving more, do floor exercises like yoga, abdominal exercises, or stationary biking while watching T.V.
If you’re someone whose smartphone or tablet is attached at the hip and only sleeps when you do, try to find balance. Phones are useful for navigating city streets, keeping up on news, social media, and so much more — but it’s important to remember that people used to enjoy life without them. Here are some tips:
- Leave it at home. If you’re headed somewhere where your attention will (or should be) be focused on something else, just leave it at home or at least turn it off and leave it in your bag. It will feel strange at first, but you’ll survive, and maybe even learn to appreciate new forms of stimulation.
- Set a specific time to unplug. Whether it’s a particular hour each day, or one entire day a week, put it on the calendar and set your phone to alert you that it’s time to turn it off.
- Get away from screens of any kind an hour before bedtime. A movie before bed can be relaxing, but it’s well-documented that electronics stimulate your brain and make it difficult to get to sleep, with more wake-ups throughout the night. Enjoy your tech, but turn it off in time to let your brain unwind and prepare for a good night’s rest.
Try these tips to get started, and try to think of other ways you can find balance within your urban lifestyle.
Photo Credit: FreeImages.com/Niklas Jutterstrom