6 Sustainable Ways to Enhance Mental Well-Being

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Mental health has never been more intertwined with sustainability than it is today. More and more people, especially among the younger generations, now suffer from eco-anxiety, a growing concern about the future of our planet. 

Similarly, our hectic lifestyles, the influence of social media, and financial worries have led to rising rates of depression, stress, and anxiety.

That’s where choosing sustainable ways to enhance our mental well-being can truly make a difference. The strategies we are about to see can help you improve your mental, emotional, and physical health while also doing something great for the environment. Let’s dive in! 

Utilize Green Spaces – or Build Your Own

people sitting on green grass field
Photo by Chris J Mitchell on Pexels.com

Utilizing green spaces or building your own garden offers endless benefits for your mental and physical health, as well as for Mother Earth. Green spaces absorb carbon dioxide, enhance biodiversity, and reduce urban heat islands, positively impacting the environment. 

Gardening, whether in a community plot or your backyard, can help you strengthen your connection to nature, fostering a sense of accomplishment, boosting mindfulness, and reducing stress. 

What’s more, the physical activity involved in gardening releases endorphins, which improve mood, and help prevent chronic and degenerative conditions, ultimately boosting your overall health.

Opt for a Plant-Based Diet

sliced tomato and avocado on white plate

As research confirms, opting for a plant-based diet reduces your carbon footprint, conserves water, and decreases deforestation. 

Additionally, growing plant foods generally requires fewer resources than producing meat, making it a sustainable choice for the environment. 

New studies have also looked at the benefits of a whole-food plant-based diet on mental health. Research gathered by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine found that individuals consuming whole foods experienced fewer symptoms of depression compared to those eating processed foods, and that vegetarians reported more positive moods than meat eaters.

Use Natural Light 

white laptop and monitor on table
Photo by Elle Hughes on Pexels.com

Using natural light instead of artificial lighting decreases energy consumption, reducing your carbon footprint – but there’s more to it!

Exposure to natural light can also improve mood, increase productivity, and help regulate sleep patterns by boosting serotonin levels.

Choosing sunlight over artificial light also reduces the risk of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) and makes indoor environments feel more inviting. A win-win!

Adopt a Companion Animals

shallow focus photography of adult black and white border collie

Adopting a companion animal, such as an emotional support animal (ESA), reduces the demand for pet breeding, which has environmental impacts, and can even help you give a new home to puppies and adult pets that might have been unwanted by others. 

Companion animals can provide significant emotional support, alleviating symptoms of depression, anxiety, and loneliness, and reducing the levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and boosting empathy. They also help create a routine, providing structure and purpose in daily life. You’ll get a lot more than what you give when adopting an emotional support animal!

Walk or Cycle More

bicyclist passing the road near the river

Walking or cycling more decreases air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, contributing to a cleaner environment and reducing your environmental footprint. These activities also reduce traffic congestion and vehicle demand, which can reduce the reliance on fossil fuels and help make communities greener and more livable. 

In terms of mental health, exercise like walking or cycling stimulates the release of endorphins and serotonin, which boost mood, help reduce depressive symptoms, and ease anxiety.

But the benefits of these activities don’t end here: exercise can also promote better sleep, increase energy levels, and contribute to overall well-being. 

Practice Mindfulness

man wearing black cap with eyes closed under cloudy sky
Photo by Kelvin Valerio on Pexels.com

Practicing mindfulness encompasses more than meditation or yoga – it extends to everyday actions like shopping, meal planning, and consumption. 

Ultimately, being more mindful in your daily life allows you to boost your cognitive skills, attention, awareness, and focus, while also helping you reduce your consumption of goods that you may not need or are harmful to the environment. 

Start little: practice staying focused on the actions you perform – such as eating the food on your plate or putting items into your shopping cart – and then extend this state of mind to all aspects of your life. 

  • Sierra Linden

    Sierra is a dedicated environmental writer, specializing in sustainable living and ecological conservation. With a background in Environmental Science, she has a knack for translating complex ecological concepts into engaging narratives. Her work focuses on inspiring action towards a more sustainable future.

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