Arline Bronzaft, Ph.D. is an environmental psychologist in New York City who studies the impact of noise on mental and physical wellbeing. It is her belief, as well as that of other environmental psychologists, that big city noise pollution poses a hidden threat to our wellbeing.
Bronzaft works with urban planners and city governments to find ways to reduce noise such as planting more trees and passing legislation to limit honking and other noises.
In study after study, it has been found that city life (with its congestion and multiple environmental stressors) is something that affects us.
But city life can be great too!
There’s public transportation to (usually) zip you all over your city in less time than it would take to drive there. Big cities have lots of entertainment options and more nightlife to enjoy.
They also have more job opportunities, can help you make interesting friends, and expand your life in ways that living in small towns can’t.
Leaving your big city may not be an option for you. However, there are ways to protect your wellness while loving your urban jungle.
1. Take advantage of parks, libraries, and other quiet spaces
It was for this very purpose that researchers and urban planners like Bronzaft built and advocated for parks.
2. Noise-proof your windows
If you live in a single-paned apartment, you may need to convince your landlord to replace them with double-paned windows. You can also get soundproof windows that cut outside noise by as much as 95%; a good option if you own your apartment or home as they are a bit pricey.
3. Take early-morning classes
Going to classes and the gym when there are fewer people around will lessen the stressful nature of having to interact with strangers so early in the day.
4. Commute around rush-hour
Avoid commuter stress by commuting earlier when traffic and congestion are less. To wait out heavy traffic, you can also work on your side hustle at a nearby coffee shop or take classes one or more times a week.
With one or both legs of your commute shortened, you can make time for things you want to do.
5. Meditate in the morning
For that added Zen, start your day with one of the many meditative practices out there such as yoga, meditation, or writing.
6. Use music and white noise machines
They will help to block out the big city noise pollution you’ve been tolerating. With music or healthier sounds filling your home, you can replace a negative with something that has positive effects on your wellbeing. In addition to white noise machines and music, consider wind chimes and noise-reducing curtains as well.
7. Get out of town
Just because you love the city doesn’t mean you need to throw away your small-town connections. Try to get away from the city a few times a year, and whenever you can make it home, do that. For many people, it can be very good for their wellbeing to remain connected to their roots.