By David Adewusi
Living and working in Africa’s big cities – Lagos, Accra, Nairobi, and Johannesburg – can quickly get overwhelming. With the unforgiving gridlock, the noise pollution caused by blaring vehicle horns and church loudspeakers, the air pollution facilitated by smoke from rickety trucks, and the fatigue occasioned by the daily grind, it is quite easy to get lost in this hubbub. In Lagos for instance, working-class individuals have to deal with heavy noise pollution as well as overcrowded public transportation, and still find ways to put with the increase in criminal activities.
While this might seem normal to residents of these cities, several studies already show that this “seemingly normal” state of living could take a toll on the mental and physical health of those who navigate their existence under such grueling conditions. Recent research has shown that these living conditions could trigger conditions like PTSD, anxiety disorder, loneliness, and depression.
Since most of us have to live in these cities due to commitments like jobs and family, as well as access to opportunities, how do we take care of our bodies and minds? Here are 5 self-care tips you should adopt immediately:
- Start Exercising
Exercising comes with its physical and mental benefits; studies have shown that exercising daily directly impacts our physical health. Also, when you work out, endorphins and dopamine – brain chemicals associated with feeling happy and confident – are released. Simply put, exercises have a direct effect on our happiness.
Sure enough, it can be difficult to incorporate regular exercise into your daily routine. But with mobile apps like 30 Day Fitness at Home, you can exercise for 5 – 10 minutes daily before you go to work. If your schedule allows it, you can also sign up for membership at a local gym. Beyond the workout sessions, joining a gym offers a sense of community, which could help combat loneliness.
- Eat Healthy
Healthy eating cannot be overemphasised; a properly balanced diet will not only give you energy during the day, but it will heighten your ability to focus. In addition, have a bottle of water with you at all times. Staying hydrated will help you stay active. It is also important that you reduce or completely avoid taking carbonated or caffeinated beverages, especially soft drinks, as they make you feel bloated and uncoordinated.
- Take Long Walks When You Can
Walking is hugely beneficial to the human body from the perspectives of physical and mental health. Taking brisk walks helps to reduce your body sugar, ease your joint pain, and prevent you from being confined to a sedentary lifestyle. Long walks also help you de-stress mentally, and provide you with room to reflect on events after a busy week. If you are a creative who has to navigate the daily grind in a busy city, these long walks could help you explore the depths of your own mind and unleash your muse. You would be surprised by the number of creative ideas that could come to you when your mind is free.
- Visit A Spa
Many Africans underestimate the benefits of visiting a spa. A typical spa treatment is meant to facilitate your physical and mental relaxation. The massages are meant to reduce stress, improve blood circulation, reduce muscle soreness, and reduce blood pressure levels. A typical African city will stress you and cause your blood pressure levels to rise. Thus, a massage isn’t a luxury, but a necessity for your overall health and well-being.
To get started, you can visit a spa in your city this weekend.
Meditation is one of the fastest and easiest ways to reduce stress. One of the oldest ways by which humans have relaxed for thousands of years, meditation started as an attempt to understand the mystical forces of the world. Today, its utility has transcended spirituality, and now extends to achieving all-around wellness. The process of meditation involves learning to focus your attention and letting go of all the thoughts that could stress you. After a stressful week, teach yourself to meditate by following Mayoclinic’s beginner’s guide to meditation.
The hustle is important, and understandably too, but don’t allow the city grind to cause you to lose your mind and body. To quote Nigerian rapper Yung6ix, “the money is relevant”, but surviving doesn’t mean you have to constantly put your body and mind under intense torture. Pick one — or two, or all — of these tips, and slowly inculcate these habits into your lifestyle.