Washington, D.C., is a city like no other. People come from all over the world to tour the city, and some of the best and the brightest in the nation — and the world, for that matter — come here to live, work, and govern. Washington is incredible, and we’re lucky to live and work here — even if it doesn’t always feel that way.
But are you getting everything you can out of D.C.? For the rent you pay, you’d better be. Here’s our guide to getting more out of D.C., from checking out the sights to crafting a better lifestyle to keep you happier and healthier.
Play the tourist once in a while
It’s a trope that locals in high-profile cities like D.C. and New York City never \ visit their own cities’ attractions until someone comes to visit. That’s a stereotype that’s good for a laugh, but it’s no way to live. Being holier-than-thou about visiting the touristy areas of D.C. is a good way to live here for years without seeing the stunning monuments, visiting the excellent (and free) museums, and reveling in the history of this peerless city.
So become a tourist in your own city once in a while. Head to the museums or to the monuments. Take a cheesy bus tour. You can do it all with minimal stress, because you don’t have to do much planning. Why not play hooky on a Tuesday or choose an unseasonably warm day to get all the tourist charm without any of the crowds? You have that power as a local.
Watch the booze.
Living well in D.C. is about what you do, but it’s also about what you shouldn’t. And if you follow the typical D.C. route of drinking to excess, you’re going to find that your body and mind suffer. You’ll get more out of D.C. if you’re not poisoning yourself on the regular. So please keep your drinking to recommended levels, and watch out for the ways in which D.C.’s work and social cultures try to get you to imbibe excessively.
Make a list
There’s so much to do in D.C., and only so many hours in the day. It’s easy to plan to do something, run out of time, and then forget all about it. So make a “bucket list” of everything that you want to do before your time here ends. Whether you have a semester left or the rest of your life, an organized list will help you plan out your adventures and hit every spot that you don’t want to miss.
Master your work schedule
D.C. is a great place to live, but it’s not always a great place to work. Sure, it’s a fantastic place to prove that you can compete in a fast-paced environment, and it’s a wonderful choice for the ambitious and career-minded. But day to day, you’re going to be working long hours and struggling to maintain work-life balance.
So protect your work-life balance as much as you can. Set rules that protect certain hours and certain spaces (like your bedroom) from work-related tasks. And, if your hours are flexible, try to arrange your schedule that maximizes your work hours and reduce your commute. Rush hour lasts all afternoon in D.C., so maybe that’s when you should be at your desk — getting enough done to come in a little later tomorrow.
Care for your mind
Living well means not letting D.C. get the best of you. Make sure that you’re protecting your mind, not just on the work-life balance front but in every aspect of your lifestyle.
One of the best things that you can do for your mental health is to invest in therapy. DC therapists are among the best in the world, so just make an appointment. Therapy is for everyone, not just those with serious mental health disorders. And in a stressful city like D.C., therapy is a particularly good idea for anyone who wants to enjoy a healthy mind, a productive work life, and a happy personal life. And who doesn’t want those things?