When you haven't been living in London for all of your life, when you moved to the city from a much smaller town, you will probably experience that your immune system is down easily. You need to learn quickly how to keep your immune system up and try to keep as much as possible a healthy lifestyle.
I’ve been living in London for almost six years now. When I first came to live here, I’ve struggled to keep my immune system strong and got sick several times a year. I had throat, stomach and sinus infections, colds and some infections I have never had before. It was a tough time, tough start here in London. Usually, I had a blocked nose once a year but moving to London challenged my body and its defence forces more than ever before. After a couple of years, I got slowly used to it but I still feel that in a city like London I really have to learn how to best protect myself from all the unhealthy influences. And so do you.
London exposes us a lot to a great level of pollution, noise and hectic. Our mayor said in an Guardian article: “It’s sickening to know that not a single area of London meets World Health Organisation health standards, but even worse than that, nearly 95% of the capital is exceeding these guidelines by at least 50%.”
(4 Oct 2017, Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/environment/2017/oct/04/revealed-every-londoner-breathing-dangerous-levels-of-toxic-air-particle)
Most of my friends who visit me are overwhelmed for the first two days. The adverts, thousands of people, traffic, the fast pace of everything here is resulting in a huge overstimulation. And you need to learn how to handle it without getting stressed and frustrated.
I did this calculation the other day and asked myself, how much time have I spent on the tube? Let’s say I travel two hours each day (from home to work and back), I found out that I’m spending 20 days a year on the tube. 20 days, hallelujah! These are 480 hours that I am underground. I could workout all these hours or even work or do something else more productive than being squeezed into a sticky hot tube. After my vacations at the sea I often struggle with the bad air on the tube. I get dizzy very easily. Realising that I’m spending 20 days a year with commuting and that doesn’t include any delays I came to 108 days in total that I’ve been spending so far sitting or standing in the tube trains. What an amount of time. 3.5 months!
I am trying to optimise this time by reading books as often as I can. Maybe I should try meditation on the tube as well or sketch on my iPad? I’ve made it a rule to spend regular time in green areas like parks to give my breathing organs a bit of fresher air. I have not yet researched what long term damages a city life can cause but I am willing to try my best here and take care of my body as good as I can. London is an amazing place to live in and I would never miss it but
I’ve come to realise that we all pay a price for it.
Things I recommend that will reduce your stress level and the amount of pollution you are exposed to:
- Live in a residential area with lots of parks around you
- Live also as close as possible to your work or find a job with flexible hours and possibilities to work from home
- Avoid rush hours which means start working earlier (but also leave earlier, remember work-life-balance)
- Workout outside, even in winter, go to your local parks (there are workout groups like Quit the Gym)
- Walk as often as you can, don’t take the escalator or lift, download the app Stepz and set a goal of 11,500 steps a day
- Avoid Oxford Street as often as you can (one of the most polluted area)
- Live in a street where it's quite, doesn’t disrupt your sleep for instance (with noisy drunken people, cars or airplanes flying too low over your house)
- Don’t live in a house with old windows (avoid drafts and noise from outside)
- Have a healthy diet (without that, you can forget almost all the things above)