Mental Health Benefits Of Going Green: Why It Feels So Good
When we talk or think about the benefits of leading an eco-friendly lifestyle, we tend to focus on our environmental impact. After all, just the thought of plastic waste in landfills, ocean pollution, and the rapid disappearance of essential resources such as clean air and drinking water is enough to occupy our minds. And more often than not, the thought will cause quite a bit of anxiety. Although we know that a sustainable lifestyle is better for us, we tend to forget about the mental health benefits of going green and why it feels soo good.
Let’s first discuss the science behind the good feeling we get when we ditch plastic and lead a life that’s in tune with nature and, thus, ourselves.
You probably already know the health benefits of eating a predominantly plant-based diet. Even more importantly, you know how important it is to provide our bodies with high-quality nutrients found in organic foods that weren’t made with practices that harm the soil, water, plants, animals, and consequently, us. But what we don’t often address is the mental and emotional side-effects of eating a Western diet. Some of the latest medical research has shown a link between the standard diet (filled with red meat, inflammatory sugar, and processed foods) and depression in teenagers. Choosing to go with whole options instead, such as grains, vegetables, legumes, fruits, nuts, and seeds, can give the body the balance it requires, and help reduce inflammation, which in turn, has positive mental health benefits in terms of mood, cognitive ability, better sleeping patterns, etc.
Nature and physical activity
One of the basic eco-friendly things you can do is to stop driving everywhere. Walk, skateboard, ride your bike. These are easy to use modes of transportation, even if you have to cover long distances, thanks to the increasing popularity of electric transport devices. And you’ll be surprised how convenient, easy to maintain, and money-saving they can actually be. But what we often forget is that this type of physical exercise is good for our brains, not just our muscles. Physical activity is strongly linked to stress reduction, and can even be used to ease the symptoms of depression, mainly achieved through lowering cortisol levels.
Unplugging does more than save electricity
Using less power is not only good for planet Earth. Did you know that unplugging devices can greatly contribute to lowering the levels of non-native EMF in your home? This environmental toxin is present in all our lives, and most of us introduce it willingly: cellphones, WIFI routers, radios, TVs, and microwaves. Unfortunately, scientists are still not 100% sure how these devices affect our bodies, but one thing is certain: the results don’t look promising. From the link between non-native EMF and adrenal fatigue to the well-known negative effect of blue light on the circadian rhythm, you may want to limit your exposure to technology. Does that mean banning it from your life altogether? Not necessarily. But unplugging devices when they’re not in use and spending time outside can be a step in the right direction.
Green living and emotional health
In addition to the quantifiable benefits of leading an eco-friendly lifestyle, it’s important to address those that aren’t easily defined but still count towards an overall improved quality of life.
Sense of belonging
By taking a proactive approach to taking better care of Mother Earth, you are automatically adding yourself to an international community of people who are passionate about the same things you are – leading a life with a lower negative impact on our ecosystem. What we often forget is that belonging to such a group (or any group for that matter) has important mental health benefits including feeling supported, being less susceptible to depression, and even lowering the occurrence of negative behaviors among adolescents.
Having a purpose in life
While leading an eco-friendly lifestyle can’t be everyone’s passion, it can be a great way to introduce more purpose into our time on Earth. After all, just the thought that every small action we take has a big impact can be life-altering. Now, think about how much impact you can make by encouraging those in your community to be mindful as well. It adds up, doesn’t it? And even though your heart lies elsewhere, it feels good to know that you are leaving behind a world that’s even just slightly better.
Last but not least, eco-consciousness goes hand-in-hand with minimalism. After all, it’s about consuming less, wasting less, wanting less. It can be absolutely life-changing. Slowly, you’ll see that your spending habits will start to influence your emotional life as well. Perhaps you’ll notice your mind is less cluttered. Or you’ll be more in touch with your emotions. And ultimately, you’ll find yourself having a clear picture of your priorities, which will help you focus on all the things that truly matter.
So, the next time you wonder why leading a mindful lifestyle feels so good, remember the fact that it’s because it’s encouraging you to be who you truly are – an essential part of nature and an important link in the grand scale of events.
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