Adjusting to New York City

a dark room with a light

For some of us, moving to New York City is the ultimate dream. In New York City, we can feel like we’re near the beating heart of the world — it’s a center of culture, power, and people that makes us feel like every moment matters just a little more.

It can also make us feel like we’re losing our minds.

Let’s face it: New York City is a stressful place. It has stress levels that are higher than those elsewhere in the nation;that’s just a fact (and one backed up by studies). And while New York City isn’t for everyone, feeling stressed out here doesn’t mean that you don’t belong. Let’s talk about how you can adjust to New York City and maintain both your dream of living here and your own sanity.


Care for your mental health

It’s easy to blame a place like New York City for our mental health struggles. And, of course, these things are sometimes related. But don’t mistake urban stress for real mental health issues, and don’t assume that you can’t benefit from therapy — here or anywhere else.

New York City is a great place to get therapy. The best therapists NYC rank with the best therapists anywhere in the world. Speak to your health insurance provider about how to go about getting world-class mental health care covered, talk to your primary care provider about your options and referrals, and start investing in your mental health with regular visits to a therapist.

Regular therapy can help you manage your symptoms, improve your moods, gain stronger and healthier relationships, address  struggles like grief, and more.


Find your happy place

New York City is big and busy. But there is room for you in it, and you can find or create a personal space for relaxation and self-care.

If that’s your own apartment, great — but don’t forget about other options. Sometimes, your home can feel constricting. Find a spot to de-stress, whether it’s a spa, a meditation center, or just a seat on a park bench.


Find small-group activities

New York City is huge and full of people. Yet, as much as we’re always surrounded by people, newcomers say a defining part of the new-to-New York experience is loneliness.

New Yorkers tend not to socialize with their neighbors — we have so many, after all! With busy work schedules, it’s hard to find time to go to social spaces. And, even in those social spaces, it’s hard to approach strangers in a way that feels natural.

So how can you meet people and make friends? The tried-and-true advice of joining small clubs and organizations is still your best bet. Volunteer to clean up your local park, or join the neighborhood softball team. Doing things like this will put you in a position to meet people in a low-pressure environment. A round of drinks after a volunteer event could spark a lifelong friendship!


Wander around and explore

New York City is incredibly safe these days, which means that — armed with just a bit of common sense — it’s easy to wander around on foot and explore the big city. Happening upon cool places organically will give you a sense of connection with them, and walking around will help orient you and make these city streets seem more familiar.

As your comfort levels rise and you become a regular at your favorite places, you’ll find yourself making a beeline for those spots. But if you want that familiarity to come faster, start with exploration!