The Bay Area is a wonderful place to live and spend time in.
However, with a high presence of tech and innovation, it comes with a reputation that’s created tech superstars like Elon Musk and Steve Jobs, movies and TV shows like Silicon Valley and The Social Network, as well as incredibly high prices and rent.
It can definitely be a stressful experience to live here at times. Depression rates are high in large cities, and the pandemic and the rapid rise of technology and social media can definitely contribute to feelings of stress and anxiety. Especially if you moved to the Bay Area right before or during the pandemic, it can feel hard to branch out and find your places and people.
This article will hopefully help you clear your thoughts and gain some insight on how to feel happier and more supported in the Bay Area.
We’ve also written an article for Mental Health Month suggesting ways you can improve your mental health depending on where you are and what resources or energy you have on hand. The article takes the perspective of evaluating and building on the strengths of your current mental health. This article will be more specific to living and looking after mental health in the Bay Area.
Make Friends and Expand Your Social Group
Friends and companions are important no matter what city you live in. It can be hard to maintain friendships or make new ones when you have a busy job or other circumstances to attend to.
As we move around in life, graduate from school and go through major milestones in our life, it can be hard to find or maintain a close-knit group. I always find it positive to think from the perspective of quality over quantity.
Great ways to make new friends in the Bay Area are through similar hobbies, or just by branching out in your already existing network, whether that’s your roommates or your coworkers. A very on-brand tech plug, but just like there are apps for dating, there are even apps you can use nowadays to make friends! Two examples are Vina and Bumble BFF. That could be a great move if you’re new to the city or stuck on how to make new friends.
You could change up your living situation and find a new lease with new roommates that you vibe with.
Consider getting a pet! This one is self-explanatory because pets are so cute and they can definitely provide companionship. Make sure you’re actually ready and have the capacity to properly care for a pet- but if so, it could be a great move to take.
Work on a Hobby
The Bay Area, like most metropolitan and highly populated areas, is full of passionate people. There are a variety of interests, ranging from athletics to learning foreign languages. Because of the high demand for learning, there are many programs, schools, and courses available for an array of interests.
You can take a cooking class, join a language learning course, take hip hop classes, attend painting classes, and much more!
A site like Crucible lists plenty of awesome and interesting classes you can take, and directory sites like Eventbrite can help you get an idea of what’s happening every month.
There are running groups, hiking groups, and book clubs that you can find online through Google searching or on social networks like Facebook.
Get to Know the Bay
Explore the culture. Observe the people. Get to know the Bay- for real! Whether you’ve found your home in the Bay, or this is just a fleeting chapter in your journey, it’s undeniable that the Bay Area is a very unique place full of culture and history.
Each city has its own specialties and quirks- why not dive fully into the Bay Area experience? Just San Francisco alone has enough museums and historical buildings to pique your interest and expertise. Some awesome museums in San Francisco are the SF MOMA and the De Young Musuem. The De Young Musuem often has Bay Area-focused exhibits that display the artwork of local artists and their expressions of their experience living in the Bay.
Create Habits and Integrate Them with Local Routines
A good way to break a negative habit is to directly replace it with a new one. Are there any habits in your day-to-day that are wreaking silent havoc? Are there any changes you’ve been wanting to try out that could improve your overall quality of life?
You can set a week-long or 30-day challenge for yourself, and find a positive, grounding habit to replace the old one.
For example, you could take a week off social media, and replace your desire to check your phone in the morning by doing a quick walk around the neighborhood. Text a new friend and see if they want to join your challenge or do one of their own in parallel!
Dive Into Mental Health, Find Local Resources
Take time to be in touch with how you’re feeling, and learn more about mental health. Sometimes, the scariest things are things we feel like we don’t even understand, or can’t even see or speak to.
Evaluate where you are mental health-wise, and then consider putting together a plan to address parts that may be lacking. Taking care of ourselves is a process and a skill that we build across our entire lives.
Group therapy could be a more affordable way to work on your mental health in a supportive community. Hallowell Todaro is an ADHD treatment clinic with offices in the Bay Area. Allcove is a new free or low-cost innovative space for youth to find community and support, while aided by social support services. The Bay is full of cutting-edge research, as well as practices and clinics that specialize in different aspects of mental health.
Here is a list of some Bay Area Mental Health Resources.
Re-Evaluate and Be Open and Observant
Think about what you want and think realistically about the different options you have.
Things are often more flexible than what we assume. For example, you might feel that you wouldn’t want to live anywhere else but the Bay Area, but find that you’ve been feeling resentful and stuck. Maybe you’ll re-evaluate and find that that’s an outdated dream, and maybe there would be other places to live.
Another resistance you could be facing is if you feel like you don’t want to live in the Bay Area but are here purely because of circumstance.
Here is a list of guided journals that might help you write through some of these questions.
You might re-evaluate and find that deep down you do love living here and that you’re actually choosing to stay here regardless of your daily thoughts and mindset about it.
Life is nuanced and complicated, but for the most part, we do the things that make sense for us in the current chapter that we’re in. Knowing that we’ve tried our best, we can also choose to change directions or try new things at any point.
Having conflicting moments and changing your priorities and dreams is totally fine and actually pretty normal, and there are definitely ways to change up those things if they’re not truly what you want or see your life going.
Mentalhelp.net has a great article for a daily mental health maintanence plan that you can get some ideas from. Sometimes, just getting different ideas for small changes to make can be uplifting.
Even if you don’t do all of them immediately, it can be encouraging to think of different methods that are out there to support you.
Create a Favorites List or a Bucket List
Find your favorite spots in the city, (the cheaper and more accessible, the better.) Make a list of all your favorite places that you know will be relaxing or distracting in a positive way. I think this is a super key part of living well in the Bay Area and probably one of the reasons rent is so high.
There are so many awesome hikes, public places, and little streets to explore! That in itself can make you feel a lot more connected to the community.
Some good ideas are public parks, libraries (the Bay Area has some amazing libraries!), and cafes. Of course, if you have the money to dish, finding a great spa or massage is great, or treating yourself to expensive meals or shopping once in a while if you’re feeling down, but it’s the best to find accessible and reliable spots.
Find your favorite downtown in the Bay Area (some of my favorites are Downtown Los Altos, Downtown Redwood City, Downtown San Mateo, Los Gatos Downtown, and Downtown Palo Alto.) Getting out of your house can be great for lifting your spirits and opening your eyes to more things to be grateful for living in the Bay Area!
Taking Ownership of Your Health
Getting the bases covered for your health is so important. An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
Feeling like we don’t have access or a contact for the important types of care that we need can definitely be stressful.
No matter what city you live in, I think it’s always important to feel like your basic needs are covered and that you have someone trustworthy and knowledgeable.
At CityHealth, we’re building a home where everyone feels cared for, and we truly believe in the importance of working with a people-centric team that truly cares. We all have different challenges when it comes to our health and well-being.
If you’re an athlete, maybe having a good physical trainer or sports injury doctor has always been an important need. If you have pressing skin issues and always consult with dermatologists, that could be an important service for your well-being.
A therapist specialized in your unique needs and pain points can do wonders.
Take the time to make a list and find out what areas of your life don’t currently feel supported, and then research and ask around for some of the well-known practices in the area.
Attend Local Seasonal Events
The Bay Area is a hotspot for many diverse types of people and cultures. There are big cities in the Bay and it can get lively over the holidays. There are some seasonal events that happen yearly.
If you don’t like large events or concerts, there are also smaller events within each city for the holiday. These events can be a great way to branch out, experience new things, and start talking to more people
These are some Bay-Area-focused mental health improvement strategies that we’ve rounded up for Mental Health Awareness month. You can also read about more general suggestions and mental health frameworks in this article.
We hope you enjoyed some of these ideas. We’ll continue expanding on our mental health content in upcoming months, as we believe it is a foundational piece to overall well-being.
Do you have any questions or ideas for content that you’d like to see?
Let us know in the comments or send an email to [email protected] with your suggestions.
Thanks for reading!