At a recent routine teeth-cleaning, my dentist leaned over me, canvassed my mouth with one of those tiny mirrors and then sat back with a sigh. “You’re clenching your teeth again,” he explained, “I’ll have to order you a mouth guard.”
Yes, a mouth guard! Exactly what I was hoping for.
He then proceeded to tell me that teeth-clenching is a very common side effect of stress and that we often do it unconsciously throughout the day and especially at night. When he inquired as to what I might be stressed about, though, I couldn’t really pinpoint anything. I quickly surveyed my life and decided I was pretty happy overall.
When I couldn’t come up with a good enough reason for being stressed, my dentist surmised that it “must just be New York” adding that “the city will do that to you.” While pairing together stress and New Yorker in the same sentence is not exactly revolutionary, it did make me actually pay attention to my mindset over the next few days. And sure enough, I found myself unnecessarily stressed at times. Would you look at that!
And so, in an effort to help both myself and other unnecessarily stressed New Yorkers avoid needing to sleep with a mouth guard in, I have come up with an unsolicited advice column for what to remember when…
1. When There’s a –GASP- Slow Walker In Front Of You
Real Talk: Ask yourself: “where, exactly, am I going that I am in such a downright furious rush?” All too often, the answer is work. Yes, work. And, if this is the case, I will kindly remind you to f’cking chill because YOU’RE GOING TO WORK. It’s really not that serious. Even if you aren’t en route to your office and it’s actually, say, a Friday and you’re going away for the weekend. Well, congratulations. The week is now over. So brownbag a beer, wait for the next train, and refrain from shouldering innocent tourists. You’ve made it.
Real Tip: If slow walkers really get you hot n’ bothered, and not in a sexually exciting way, simply change your walking route. For instance, while the route that takes you past Grand Central may be the quickest, it also may be the most frustrating. Save yourself the stress, leave five minutes early, and avoid the chaos.
2. When It’s Too G-ddamn Loud
Real Talk: This is New York. What volume did you think it came at?
Real Tip: We’ve all been there, and the remedy is a good pair of headphones. Find a solid Pandora station and crank the tunes. For the morning, I recommend “Send Me On My Way” by Rusted Root or the Jack Johnson station to ease you into your day. For the afternoon, “Home” by Edwarde Sharp and the Magnetic Zeroes and the Grouplove station are my favs. Also, Katy Perry, because duh-f-cking-duh.
P.S. You can also just use earplugs. Nobody is judging you because nobody cares. I promise.
3. When You’re Just. So. Tired.
Real Talk: I know, I know, it’s the city that never sleeps, right? Wrong. Everyone sleeps. So stay in for once and take a melatonin. You shouldn’t be at Pacha at 3AM on a work night, anyway. In fact, you should never be at Pacha. EVER. Never Ever. So, if you have been recently, go sit in time-out. You need to re-evaluate your life.
Real Tip: Consider your time as an investment and be more selective about when you go out and with whom. Also, remember that it’s okay to take a weekend night off, sometimes – at least from binge drinking until 4am. It takes some getting used to, but it makes you appreciate your free time much more and simultaneously makes you feel a lot less worse come Monday.
4. When You Simply Can’t Take The Heat
Real Talk: Polar Vortex 2014. Never Forget.
Real Tip: This summer has genuinely been mild compared to seasons past and while we just had a bit of a humidity wave this past weekend, it’s calming back down again. Nonetheless, getting stuck on a sticky, smelly subway cart can really do wonders on an already-bitter New York City soul. To avoid such unfortunate circumstances, I suggest walking when possible (slowly, of course, as we learned in bullet point #1) and carrying a small fan with you. They sell them in Chinatown for, like, $3 bucks. I have one, and not simply because I’m Chinese, but mostly. Regardless, a folder from the file cabinet at work will also do. Also, #ColdShowers.
5. When You Remember You’re Living in a Shoebox
Real Talk: If you live uptown, just think about how you could be living amongst the even-smaller, rat-infested, expensive apartments of downtown – far, far away from Riverside or Central Park. And if you live downtown, just think about how you be living uptown – the horror!
Real Tip: First, clean up after yourself and organize your apartment better. This is not college, so get it together. Second, get out of town! Or get somewhere peaceful at least. All of us grow weary of the city we are otherwise enamored with. New York is meant to be escaped from every now and then. So, every now and then, you just have to tune in and Time Out.