Stress Busting in The Steel City


Stress busting in the Steel City

It is Mental Health Awareness Week, with a particular focus on stress and many studies suggest that city living is more stressful than a life lived away from the hustle and bustle of an urban landscape.

Berlin stress researcher, Dr Mazda Adli, found that “city living affects how the brain deals with stress” and, particularly for people with a disposition to mental illness or anxiety, this urban stress can exacerbate the likelihood of them developing symptoms of such illnesses.

But, as Mental Health Awareness Week aims to highlight, stress can be an issue for anyone at any time in their lives.

But there are things you can do to lower the risk or manage the symptoms of constant deadlines and the demands of others.

Step into the green city.

Sheffield is one of the greenest cities in Europe and research has shown the power that green spaces have over stress – even living near a park reduces the likelihood of someone developing depression.

So, if you can, why not get out of the city center and explore one of the city parks. Or enjoy time out in the peak district?

Even in the city center, Devonshire Green and The Winter Gardens let you experience the calming effects of nature even though you’re just a stone’s throw from offices and shops.

Explore and reconnect with the city.

Research shows that if you feel you understand your living space and can mentally picture it then it can reduce the symptoms of stress. Exploring how the city connects can unearth communities you didn’t know about and make you feel more connected to the lives that go on around you every day. This understanding gives you a new security in the place you call home.

Sheffield has amazing groups like Our Favorite Places ( that have done the hard work for you and give you a blueprint to find the type of place you need to recharge and re-energize.

If music or art or foods are your solace then Sheffield has so much to offer.
Or why not just wander and give yourself to getting lost?

Find a safe place:

Identify a place you can go where you can shut out the city. Research shows that knowing you have a way to stop the surrounding city noise gives you a sense of control and limits your stress response.

The obvious choice is home where you can close the door and be surrounded by the things you like and the people you love. But – if for any reason that’s not an option – Sheffield offers plenty of free public spaces such as libraries and galleries as well as places of worship.

Also Sheffield’s City of Sanctuary movement offers help and advice to asylum seekers and refugees needing help around finding safety.

Think about how you get here.

Commuting is consistently highlighted as a major stress factor in people’s lives and those who walk, cycle or run into the city show lower levels of stress hormones. And it’s good for the city.

If you have to travel on public transport why not explore some mindfulness apps to give your commute a new level of awareness. Studies show that being ‘intently aware’ during journeys also lowers the triggers of stress.






City noise:

Cities are often noisy and Sheffield is no exception. If you can’t stop the noise, then at least try to find out what the noise is as researchers have found that simply knowing exactly what a noise is dramatically reduces the stress associated with an unknown sound.

Make art, use art.

The city has a great collection of galleries and art spaces from the smaller venues such as our own exhibition space to the Millennium gallery. There’s also an assortment of galleries showcasing up and coming artists from Sheffield and beyond – Google S1, Bloc, Site as well as 35 Chapel Walk, The Montgomery. (Did we mention our own Exhibition Space?)

Or don’t just look at art – do it. It’s becoming more and more accepted that the act of creating something is good for our brains and our mental wellbeing but – the good news is – the research suggests it doesn’t matter whether you produce a masterpiece or something that only has meaning to you. Just the act of creating lowers stress and brings a host of other benefits.

If you need a starting point why not take a look at the range of courses that we offer?

Connect. Start a conversation.

What do you find stressful about living in Sheffield and what or where is your safety net when you feel your stress levels rise?