How The City You Live In Can Majorly Impact Your Mental Health

I had lived in Southern California for my entire life. I also struggled with anxiety for my entire life. I didn’t realize the connection between the two until I decided to pack up my things and head to Arizona.

I’d been told that healing starts from within, so I worked on my inner healing for several years after a series of traumatic events left my life in shambles. As a result of that inner healing work, my intuition became very strong. It began to guide me to people, places, and things in my external reality that were more suitable for better health outcomes. A part of that was moving from California to Arizona.

Growing up, I always fantasized about leaving California. I now understand there was something deep inside of me that felt very unhappy there. I ended up going to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for college as a result of this longing to leave California, but based on where I was in my own journey, a very naive and sheltered barely 18-year-old, it was too big of a move, and I grew very homesick. My mom had warned me not to run away from my problems, that they would follow me wherever I went. I really took her advice to heart after that move that was too big of a jump for me, and I ended up coming back to California.

During the next several years, I tried my best to make it work in California. I got my bachelor’s degree from UC San Diego and landed a full-time job at the university shortly after graduating. It was a good opportunity and I gained a lot of experience from that job, but I was not making enough money to live comfortably. I was paying $900/month to rent a room in someone’s old, dilapidated house so that I could live somewhat nearby my job. Interestingly enough, even though I lived within a 5-mile radius of where I worked, it took me about 20 minutes to commute there and 40 minutes back every day due to traffic. I hated the commute and the traffic. On top of that, because I was working for a university, I had to pay union dues, pay for parking, and pay the very high California taxes. I was barely making enough money to survive and I was working like a slave. I was extremely depressed, anxious, and angry, and I didn’t stop to think it might be linked to my financial and living situations. Instead, I was given antidepressants (which I knew weren’t solving my problems) and stayed at the job until I couldn’t anymore.

The following year, I got a new job in California, this time in Santa Barbara. I was making more money than I had been at my first job, but unfortunately I found out that Santa Barbara was even more expensive than San Diego. Again, I found myself living in a crappy room in someone’s house, trying to save up enough money to get my own place. I could no longer rationalize the cost of living in California. I ended up quitting that job too, and my intuition guided me to come to Arizona.

Once I arrived in Arizona, it felt like I was taking a breath of fresh air. The people were nicer. It was much more open and spacious. There was less traffic. The gas was cheaper. The homes were nicer. I instantly felt more grounded than I ever had in my entire life. Even though I’d chalked my chronic anxiety up to my own genetics and to the various traumas I’d experienced throughout my young lifetime, I became strikingly aware of how my external circumstances really impacted how I felt inside.

I’d spent the last 13 years moving from home to home because my family couldn’t afford to buy a house, some of which were nicer than others, some of which had a lot of issues because the houses were old, moldy, or otherwise run down. In California, there is a big problem with houses being run down, especially if they are near the beach, due to erosion from the salty air.

I am glad to say that I am now starting a new life in Arizona. I think the people are nicer here because of all the aforementioned reasons, so they seem to be less neurotic. We are also affected by the mental health of those around us, so when we live in an area where a lot of people are afflicted by mental health problems, it can impact our own mental health. Thought Catalog Logo Mark