Why is the City so damn stressful?!

Frank Sinatra was not kidding when he sang “New York, New York” – if I can make it there, I’ll make it anywhere.

Living in a city means more noise, more crime and more people. But to live in a city like New York, that is “making it” on a whole different level. According to Forbes, New York has “the least affordable housing, the most extreme population density and the highest cost of living.” The Global City Competitiveness Index declared New York to be the most competitive city in the world.

What does competitiveness look like? When I go to Trader Joe’s on 14th and 3rd, I take a basket and head straight for the end of the line. My strategy is to combine “shopping” and “waiting in line” into one. You see, if I were to buy what I need and then line up, I would waste an additional 15 to 30 minutes on top of the usual one hour wait time. Imagine wasting an hour to buy grocery! Worse, an hour and a half!

Boy, I am feeling stressed out. Oh oh, bad news amygdala.

Photo Credit: smallbiztrends.com (Web)

Photo Credit: smallbiztrends.com (Web)

A stressful situation, such as deadline or buying grocery, stimulates the amygdala, which processes emotion, and the cingulate cortex, which processes negative emotion. A stressful incident triggers the release of stress hormones. We become hypervigilant.  In the prehistoric days, our “fight-or-flight” instinct kept us alive from predators.

Stress, in a sense, is not a bad thing. But too much stress is. Overloads damage our immune system, memory and health. 

Sources of stress include work, commute, living space, relationship, money and lack of control. Later I will talk more about how control correlates with stress.

What about you? Is there something about the city that stresses you out?

Works Cited

Abbott, Alison. "Urban Decay." Nature 490.7419 (2012): 162-4. ProQuest. Web. 4 Feb. 2014. 

Greenfield, Beth. "America's Most Stressed Cities." 23 Sept. 2011. Forbes. Web. 2 Feb. 2014. 

Thompson, Clive. "The Ecology of Stress." The New Yorker. Web. 2 Feb. 2014.
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2 thoughts on “Why is the City so damn stressful?!

  1. Absolutely.
    The stress is like a virus. It goes around affecting and influencing everyone. New York feels kind of like being in a room full of frowning faces. Hopefully this post isn’t spreading stress! Hitting the gym or running the track are always excellent choices

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