Cities & Our State of Mind: Why they’re not a great match

(2 minute read)

Living in a city and can’t figure out why you’re feeling down? It might be time to consider the way the city itself is impacting your quality of life.

Sure, cities can be dazzling. They’re large, expansive and seem to hold endless opportunities. So many of us live in cities for this exact reason: they provide opportunities that other places might not. The rapid pace of life, the constant change of scenery and the endless buzz of people can be exciting. However, there is another side to city life – and life in the suburbs – that is not often spoken about. Life in a city can be lonely, isolating and leave you feeling stressed. If you’re feeling this way, know this:

1. Cities weren’t designed for mental wellbeing
Yes, cities are great for concentrating people in one place to work, but their design isn’t the best for our state of mind. Wide concrete roads carve up the suburbs, spreading us out, isolating us. As apartment blocks rise, trees fall, and our access to greenery diminishes. And research clearly shows that isolation and distance from nature don’t serve us well.

2. You’re not alone in feeling alone
In cities, loneliness is widespread. Some of the most ‘developed’ countries are grappling with staggering rates of loneliness. Japan has just appointed a Minister of Loneliness to address this exact issue. The glaring connection between city life and loneliness is hard to ignore.

3. More and more city dwellers are closing themselves off.
Urban theorist Nan Ellin suggests the original purpose of a city was to give people a sense of safety – the city’s walls created a protective barrier against the outside world. Now, Ellin argues, modern cities have become associated with a sense of ever-present fear. People are creating their own private castles, armed with alarm systems, gates and guard dogs. More and more, people detach themselves from others in the name of security, which only fuels a sense of isolation.

4. We need social connection.
Scientists are showing more and more, we need to feel connected to others. There is a reason why the brain experiences loneliness as pain: we shouldn’t be alone, at least not for too long.

5. The city is too stimulating.
It is exciting, but at the same time the constant hum of city overstimulates your brain, leaving you drained and on edge. At times, it feels like everything is whizzing by, and you can’t control the anything around you.

You’re not alone if you feel the weight of the city pressing down on you. Finding ways to connect to others, creating a quiet space, getting into nature, and reaching out to people in your life can help alleviate the loneliness the city perpetuates.

If you are not sure who to talk to, Highway creates spaces for you to connect with other people your age, from the comfort of your own home.

Remember we are always here to help.

Stay safe.