Last Updated: August 26th, 2019

If you live in a bustling city, it’s easy to get caught up in the frenetic pace. You may feel like you need to hustle constantly just to keep up, and this can lead to serious burnout quickly. You may often ask yourself, “How can I slow down and get back in touch with nature?”

Doing so can be challenging in an urban environment, but with a bit of creativity, you can reclaim your Zen. If you’re not sure where to begin, try following the 10 tips below to reconnect with nature and cultivate inner peace—no matter where you live. Your mental health and your circle of friends will thank you!

Find a park

No matter how large your city is, parks and public spaces can serve as mini oases from the rush of the outside world. Even in New York City, the city that never sleeps, Central Park has bikes and boats to rent. Many other big cities offer similar services. Or, you can just stroll through the gardens and parks that are often sprinkled throughout large cities as well!

Locate a body of water

Something about being near water calms the human spirit. Indeed, one recent study found that living within sight of the ocean lowered stress levels even more than gazing at green landscapes.

But if you live in St. Louis, Missouri, you don’t need to relocate to Miami to get your beach fix. Even gazing at pictures of water can calm your mood. Line your office cubicle with your favourite images of sunsets next to oceans or lakes to help ease your stress levels when deadlines put the pressure on.

Plant a balcony garden

Have a sunny balcony? Transform it into a garden oasis! You don’t necessarily need to lay bricks and haul in topsoil—a colourful array of planter pots will do the trick nicely. If your budget permits, include a fountain to create soothing waterfall sounds that will (somewhat) drown out the din of traffic and your neighbours’ marital spats.

Install a grassy patch

Many city landscapes contain copious amounts of concrete and nary a blade of grass, outside of parks and museum grounds. If you want to practice earthing, or walking barefoot to connect with the Earth, though, you can plant a small grassy patch on a back stoop or balcony.

You don’t need much space—a 5-by-5 inch (or 13-by-13 centimetre)’ patch will do. Make this a sacred space for gazing across the skyline while walking barefoot or meditating. Research shows that your body’s direct contact with the Earth’s negative electric charge will influence the electric charge of your body’s cells, and this, in turn, will benefit your health.

Make a windowsill herb garden

Cilantro growing in windowsill pot

Some herbs heal, others make dishes taste more delish—and some do double duty! Line a sunny windowsill with small pots and plant lavender, chamomile, oregano or parsley—basically, any herbs you use regularly for cooking or natural remedies are fair game! Plants typically improve the indoor air quality by ridding toxins from the air, so you’ll also enjoy the bonus of breathing in fewer germs and particles of mold.

Play soothing nature sounds

Research shows that sounds over just 85 adjusted decibels can damage your hearing quickly. Interestingly, common city sounds like a rushing subway, ambulance sirens and jackhammers all supersede this threshold. That’s not great news for your hearing!

If you live in an apartment that lacks adequate insulation, consider upgrading it to better block outside sounds. If your budget disallows major renovations or you rent your space, it’s best to hang heavy curtains to block noise instead.

Inside, invest in a recording of soothing nature sounds to mask noises coming from the street and neighbours. This can help you feel like you’re relaxing by a waterfall or strolling through a rainy forest—all in the privacy of your own living room!

Use aromatherapy

Scent influences our moods significantly. Anosmia—which is the complete loss of the sense of smell—often leads to mood disorders like depression.

Assuming you don’t suffer from anosmia, you may want to invest in an inexpensive essential oil diffuser. Try scents like bitter orange to boost energy and beat the blahs, and aromas like lavender to relax. Using incense is even less expensive, but it can be an allergy trigger for some people. Just try some different options, and see what works best for you!

Take a Yoga class

If there’s one good thing about city life, it’s that there’s always something to do—including finding inner peace under the guidance of a spiritual teacher.

In most cases, it’s beneficial to try out a new Yoga class, even if you’re seasoned on the mat. You can always add to your repertoire, and each instructor will have something of value to offer. Plenty of evidence has shown that Yoga is calming, so participating in a class can help you stay grounded when the bustle of city life gets to be too much.

Create a bedroom oasis

Many city dwellers find sleep elusive. To help remedy this, you can hang blackout curtains in your bedroom(s) to cut out excessive noise and flashing lights from neon signs, and consider installing a bed canopy to further block out light and sound. Whenever possible, keep electronic devices out of the bedroom, too—the blue light from such devices can keep you awake.

Adopt a shelter pet

Finally, doing a good deed always generates positive feelings, and adopting a homeless pet can stave off loneliness. Surprisingly, loneliness is a real problem among city dwellers, despite the fact that so many people inhabit these urban jungles.

If your hectic schedule might make doggie care difficult, cats always need homes, and after holidays like Easter and Christmas, so do many rabbits and other small animals. Coming home feels so much more welcoming when a furry ball of kisses is waiting for you! Just make sure you have the time and financial stability to care for your new furry friend properly.

It’s difficult—but not impossible

Person meditating on city street

Keeping your inner peace amid the fast pace of city life can feel daunting. But by following a few simple guidelines, you’ll be able to cultivate loving-kindness and inner Zen, no matter where you reside!

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image 1: Pexels; image 2: Jeremy Noble