Finding Time For Yourself in a Big City

Monday, November 5, 2018


So, remember that time a couple of weeks ago when I talked about taking a few minutes to sit in silence, sip my tea (the non-gossip kind), and enjoy my own company? Maybe we should revisit that. At least, that's what I thought when I was sitting on my L Train heading back to Brooklyn on Saturday afternoon. It was a rare occasion when I (1) had a seat and (2) the train was fairly empty. I was sitting with my headphones in and just, well, sat. I had a book in my purse and a notebook as well, but instead of trying to make use of this "free time" I just kept my headphones in, skipped a few songs on shuffle to find the perfect pick, and just sort of zoned out until I saw my stop.

Okay, so I did take a minute or two to write down the idea I got for this blog post, but other than that, I did absolutely nothing. You happy now? 

It's not easy to find time for yourself on a daily basis regardless of where you live or what you do. However, New York City has a population of about 8.6 million people and it's really hard to feel like you're alone here unless you're in the comfort of your own bedroom with the door shut. But even if you're not necessarily alone, it doesn't mean that you can't take a few minutes out of your day to do something for yourself. 

I start to get antsy if I don't take a few minutes (or more) to just detox from everything that's happening around me. I'm an introvert, through and through. Sometimes this surprises people because I have my spurts of being outgoing but to the core, I function like an introvert. If I spend too much time around people, even if I'm not necessarily engaging with them in conversation, I start to feel my energy depleting. This can even happen on a super crowded subway ride in the morning. I'm not talking to anyone on the train, yet being there with so many people without adequate fresh air starts to drain me and I need some time to regroup after that, which is why I've started walking instead of taking my subway transfer to get down to work. It's good exercise and it doesn't involve being surrounded by everyone else on their morning commute.

There are plenty of ways you can find time for yourself, even in a city as large as NYC.


Make a comforting playlist

My feelings tend to coincide with whatever music I'm listening to at the time. It's why I've always had playlists for every single mood, no matter how specific it sounded. I've had general happy playlists, dance playlists, driving in the morning playlists, driving at night playlists, morning commute when I'm in a bad mood...are you catching my drift? Since I'm so reactive to whatever I'm listening to, curating a comforting playlist is an easy way for me to feel like I'm in my own little bubble. I use it at work, when I'm walking around the city, when I'm at home and just need a little extra comfort outside of the warmth of my comforter.

For me, this means some light acoustic tunes that aren't too depressing in terms of lyrics or at least the music doesn't make it sound too sad because let's be real, if I'm zoning out I might not necessarily be hearing the lyrics. I keep on coming back to this playlist whenever I might need it and it's always saved in 'offline' mode on my Spotify app justttt in case I need it on the subway. Which, more often than not, I do.

Substitute a crowded commute with a walk

I started doing this...I don't even know when. Whenever the weather stopped being so disgusting and I could actually breathe outside. I did it for the first time because I was super stressed out and way too early for work and tbh I didn't feel like putting in any extra work that week. So, instead of transferring to my 6 train at Union Square, I walked down to SoHo instead and then just sort of circled the blocks until it was an acceptable time to be in the office.

And then I did it the next day, but from First Avenue. 

And then the next day from Third Avenue. 

Aside from the day that I wore stupid shoes, I've walked to and from Third Avenue down to SoHo, morning and evening. Yes, I pass people on the street, but at least I have fresh air, my legs are moving, and I'm not stuck (1) standing idly on a train surrounded by people or (2) waiting idly for my train to maybe show up. It cut out a lot of morning stress and discomfort and now my day feels thrown off if I don't get my walk in. I had to walk from Union Square instead of Third Avenue a couple of times because I was running late and I swear, even taking out that little extra time walking felt weird.


Go for a walk

Okay, so yes, we just talked about walking, but this is a different kind of walk. You know that feeling when you're either at the office or home and the walls start to feel like they're closing in on you and you just need to get out and do something? I get that feeling a lot, so I just put on a pair of comfortable shoes or hope that I didn't make an impractical shoe choice for work that day and I just go. Whether it's a fifteen-minute walk around my office or a two-hour long walk in my neighborhood on a Sunday when I had no other additional plans, I just pop in my headphones and let my feet take me wherever they think I need to go. Maybe it's a mile walk, maybe it's a five-mile walk. The distance isn't really that important to me, I just wait until the trapped feeling subsides.

Make a fresh cup of tea (or two) and grab a book 

I do this a lot at home, even when I am actually alone. I think there's a difference between just being home alone and making time for yourself while you're at home. I can be at home all day stressing about something. So, if that happens, I usually do two things. I always, always make a hot cup of tea and then I'll grab a book. Sometimes, admittedly, I don't even read the book but I like knowing that it's there. I'll usually just have whatever playlist I'm listening to at the time (music is never not playing at my apartment), my cup of tea, and maybe a book. There's just something about a cup of tea that just makes everything better, let's be real.


Work outside of the office for an hour

This may or may not be a possibility for everybody, but I work in a WeWork building and sometimes I just don't feel like being in the office for nine hours. I usually eat lunch elsewhere, but there's only so long I can sit at my desk and stare at my double screens. A couple of times a week I'll usually go work out in the kitchen/lounge area on our floor or will go to another floor just for some change in scenery. If everyone is in my office, it tends to get pretty crowded and I just like to have my space especially when I'm in the same place from 8:30 am to 6:30 pm five days a week.


Sit at the laundromat

Okay, so this might seem oddly specific but hear me out. At least at the laundromat that I go to, people either (1) drop their laundry off for the laundromat to do or (2) put their laundry in, set a timer for themselves, and come back to switch it to the dryers or take it back. But, since I'm too lazy to do either of those things, I tend to just sit in one of the few seats there, put some headphones in, and read my book. It's usually just me and the woman who works there and then whoever filters in and out. I just know that whenever it's laundry day, I'll get an hour and fifteen minutes of pretty much uninterrupted time except for those few minutes I spend sorting my wet laundry to go into the dryer. So yes, maybe it's not something that applies to everyone, but this tedious chore gives me the free time I deserve.



Sweatshirt: Cleveland Consignment Shoppe
Skirt: Zara
Bag: Zara
Hat: Epoch
Shoes: Adidas
Sunglasses: Forever21

Photos by Austen Tosone

1 comment

  1. Thank you for sharing this, Francesca! It is so important to take some time for yourself during the week. I'm certainly still working on it!

    Kendal / Life With Kendal

    ReplyDelete

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