The City Guy's Guide to Beating City Stress
Ah, the big city. Metro Manila is a sprawling metropolis, and while it isn't as flashy as regional neighbors like Singapore and Hong Kong, the lifestyle and speed of the people living in it is very different if you're coming from the province or the suburbs.
For the first time city guy, the hustle and bustle of any of The Philippines' big cities is a shock and requires proper planning to make it through the day. City stress is a real thing, after all, and the cons of urban living often far outweigh its pros.
Is it your first time living and working in the big city? Check out our guide below to surviving the Metro and beating city stress.
Racing against Traffic
Let's just say this; the one thing that contributes perhaps the most to city stress is the unreal traffic that plagues the roads across almost all of Metro Manila. It's something that's still waiting to be solved and will not likely be solved in the near future. Congested roads and the changing weather in Manila kill slowly, so you always need to have plans A, B, and all the way to Z when you're commuting within the big city.
Instead of waiting for a miracle to happen, we need to be a bit proactive when it comes to racing against traffic. Whether you're renting in places like Makati, BGC, Ortigas or one of the neighboring suburbs, always give yourself an allowance of an hour to an hour and a half before you're supposed to be at the office. For those working the graveyard shift, the same applies. Rush hour in the metro is around 5pm to 7pm, so if your schedule isn't until later in the evening, you need to plan your trip so that you don't get caught in traffic. Fortunately, most of the people at around this time are going home instead of going to work, so it isn't as hectic as in the morning shift.
If you are driving or getting an Uber, make sure to always use Waze. The app will help you avoid massive traffic jams and get you to the office in the quickest time possible. Waze even has a new "Planned Drives" feature, that tells you exactly when to leave home to reach your destination by a certain set time. Simply tap on the "Waze Planned Drives" icon, set the exact timing you need to be at your destination, and wait for Waze to tell you exactly when to leave. One less thing on your mind, yeah?
Commuting is an Art
Commuting is often our only way to get around the city, and even if you have a car, there will be days when public transportation is simply the better option to take. Commuting is as multi-faceted as the big city, which means we shouldn't be accustomed to just one form of commuting.
Sure, you already know how to take the bus or the UV Express, but always know your backup commuting options. If you haven't learned how to take the jeepney or take the LRT, then now's the time to get yourself acquainted. We're not saying that you should switch commuting options every day; it's just better to have more than one back-up plan instead of having to call the office saying you're going to be late or stranded -over and over again.
The Metro People
Metro Manila isn't exactly a melting pot of cultures, but the people living here come from all locations and walks of life. We won't just be encountering young professionals like us - there's also people just passing through, tons of visitors and so much more.
If commuting and traffic contributes to 60% percent of city stress, the people in the Metro make up 30%. It's a given that you'll encounter people that you won't exactly get along with - within the workplace and outside. The way to deal with it is with patience and understanding.
Exerting dominance in such a bustling environment will just make us look ridiculous. So your co-worker isn't pulling their weight or your boss is being unfair. Or maybe you're on your way to work but the group walking in front of you decides to do a pseudo-procession as they slowly tour the city.
It's frustrating, we know, but being rude about it will just make it worse. A little kindness goes a long way. As a first time young professional, we should also be equally understanding to the people around us. A person doesn't need to tell us that we need to step aside and give way because they're in a hurry, after all - it's a given and it's common courtesy.
Making a living in the city is never easy. Here, the most intelligent and hardworking people gather to build their careers and forge their position in Filipino society, so you can expect work to be stressful, rapid-paced and just downright tiring.
There will be days you leave the office feeling haggard and demotivated. Chin up, bro. You are not alone. Especially in the early parts of our career, the grind tends to be more intense and people are not as nice to you because you're still at the bottom of the food chain. Sit back, buckle up, and work hard. You will eventually be the one calling the shots if you work hard and smart enough.
But in the meantime, do not let the stress get to you. Adopt a positive can-do attitude every morning when you get to the office. The cities are also home to some of the best malls. Spend some time there at night or on the weekend relaxing there with your friends over coffee or a movie. It will help!
Cool, Calm and Energized
City stress is going to beat us to the ground if we don't stay cool, calm and energized. Toxic work environments, even more toxic cityscapes and the weather are all against us, so it's important to come prepared for whatever they decide to throw at us.
We aren't boy scouts anymore, but there are some things we should always carry around if we want to survive a day in the big city:
- Extra money for that one rainy day. Packing extra cash is a given, especially when unexpected costs come up.
- A handkerchief, especially if we're commuting.
- An umbrella, cause we all know how crazy our country's weather is.
- Extra shoes. You should have at least two pairs, one for the office and one for when you commute or go home. Store your water-proof shoes in your locker or in a bag under your desk just in case.
- Grooming essentials. The stress and pollution can easily create a dirty, haggard look on your face. Have a small facial cleanser handy with you at all times, especially if you're commuting, as simply washing your face isn't going to get rid of all that dirt that's accumulated during the day.
Living and working in the big city isn't easy, especially if it's your first time. Don't let city stress get you down. Keep this guide in mind and you'll be better prepared to take on the big city and beat city stress.