Sustainable Self-Care - 3 Cheap and Easy Ways to Take Care of Yourself and the Planet
Updated: Feb 19
Taking care of ourselves has always been an important part of life, but in today’s day and age it’s becoming increasingly more necessary. Fast-paced living, technology, and the need to constantly be improving and pushing ourselves to succeed is taking its toll on society, and (although the same is happening in all generations) ‘millennial burnout’ is becoming a serious problem. I know I’ve been guilty of pushing myself to the point of illness more than once, purely because I felt that if I didn’t, I’d be seen as lazy or worthless, which, when you think about it, is super unhealthy!
It really is true that self-care isn’t selfish. In fact, it is a necessary part of life that will in turn make that four-page long to-do list that much easier to tick off! Luckily, self-care is becoming more popular, with Instagram users, magazines, and blogs all sharing great tips and tricks on how to take care of yourself to stop things like burnout happening. These are all really fab, however not many discuss how great an opportunity self-care is to try and look after the planet at the same time! If you can do things that don’t harm the environment – or even better, actually benefit the environment – not only are you contributing to the wellbeing of yourself, but the wellbeing of the planet too, which will end up making you feel even better!
I know that sometimes it can be difficult finding things to do to contribute to self-care, let alone to the care of the planet, so I’ve compiled a small but hopefully helpful list of three cheap and easy ways to take care of yourself and the earth. These are my favourite things to do when I’m feeling overly stressed or anxious, and I try to do at least one of them once a week if not more. Of course, some are more doable than others depending on where you’re at mentally and physically, but they’re all easily adaptable for even those really bad days. Since doing these things I’ve found myself able to handle stressful situations better, I’m sleeping better, and I feel fab because I know I’m contributing to the protection of the planet!
1. Ground yourself!
I think this is probably my favourite thing to release all the stress and tension of daily life, and it’s so simple to do! Being in nature is one of the best things you can do to clear your mind, and the earth has so many health benefits too! Most of you probably remember running bare foot as a child in a field or on a sandy beach, and the joyous, freeing feeling that came with it, however, as adults, opportunities to walk barefoot on the earth are now few and far between. Still, it’s so important to try to take time out to ground yourself; our bodies are full of electricity-making atoms, and modern technology can unbalance that electrical energy, but connecting with the earth can bring you back to a stable, neutral state. Not only does this make you feel better generally, but it has loads of added health benefits too! (I’m no scientist, so if you want to read more about the science behind it, this journal article explains it all really well!)
I’m really lucky to have the Secret Garden in Wolverton on my doorstep, but there are plenty of natural places to sit or go for walks wherever you live! Do a little bit of research whenever you next have a spare moment and create a list of all the places you’d like to explore, then, next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, stressed, or just want a bit of quiet time, you know where you can go to immerse yourself in nature and ground yourself. You can go for a walk – bare foot if possible because it really is a lovely feeling, take a book and read under a tree, or even a sketchbook if you’re feeling arty, smell some flowers, pick some berries (the safe ones!), and one of my absolute favourite things to do – hug a tree! No, I’m not joking; you’ll probably feel really silly the first time you do it (I did), but I can’t begin to explain how great it makes you feel, trust me! You can even pick up some litter along the way; not only will you feel amazing being in nature, breathing in the oxygen and smelling the trees, but you’ll feel fab knowing you’ve done your bit to help out too!
2. Go Tech-free!
Yeah, yeah, I know, I had a ton of excuses too before I actually tried it! But even putting down the phone and laptop for as little as an hour is so beneficial to both yourself and the environment! I’m a self-proclaimed Instagram addict, and I must admit there was a long time where I would spend every spare second I had scrolling through, checking out other people’s feeds, and constantly refreshing to see if I had any new likes or followers. Teaching myself to put the phone down and stay away for even a short period of time has meant my obsession has almost disappeared. Yes, I’m still on Instagram more than I probably should be, but it’s no longer unhealthy; I feel better in myself, my worth is no longer linked to the attention I receive online, and I now get so much more done with my time!
Instead of checking your social media, playing games, or - one thing I was terrible at - taking pictures and boomerangs of what you’re doing instead of actually doing it, spend some quality time with yourself or a loved one, read a book, meditate, do some puzzles, or simply focus on what you are doing through your own eyes, rather than through a phone camera! You’ll find you will get so much more done, and you will become more connected with your own real-life, as opposed to the one you live online.
Not only will going tech free for a portion of the day benefit yourself, but the environment too. Research has stated that by 2040 smartphones will have the biggest carbon footprint in the tech industry. By reducing the use of your phone, you can reduce the negative impact you are having on the environment – it’s a win-win! Not only that but your phone will end up lasting longer, meaning you will be able to go even longer between upgrades so your technological waste will decrease.
So, even if you don’t fancy it, try to take a little time out to put your phone, laptop, iPad, or whatever else you use down. Even just 15 minutes a day will help both yourself and the planet, and you’ll soon be reaping the benefits!
3. Pick up a book!
Now, I know this one isn’t for everyone, but it can be adaptable to mean lots of different things! I love to read, so taking some time out with a book in a calm, peaceful environment is one of my favourite things to do, and it leaves me feeling relaxed, rested, and ready to take on the rest of the day.
If you are like me and you love to read too, then why not head to a charity shop or independent book store and pick up a couple of books you like the look of second hand? Not only are you helping the planet by reusing books, you’re helping out other people by not buying from a big chain, meaning your money will either be going to a good cause, or helping out a family, and second-hand books are usually cheaper so you’re benefiting your pocket too! Once you’ve finished them you can then take them back to a charity shop instead of just letting them clutter up your bookshelf or throwing them away!
If you’re not that into reading, picking up a book can also mean any form of literature, from magazines to puzzles, or even children’s books if you just want to admire the amazing illustrations! Whatever you fancy, as long as it’s something you can do to take your mind off your worries for a little while, it’s self-care! And these are all things you can find second-hand too, so you can still contribute to the planet!
Notebooks and sketchbooks also count, if writing or drawing is more your thing. Writing your thoughts down in a notebook or journal is a fab way to clear your head, and drawing or sketching are both great methods of getting those creative juices flowing – they might even encourage you to find more creative ways to deal with whatever stresses life throws your way!
Whatever way suits you best, taking the time out to read, draw, write, do puzzles, or anything else you can think of, is a fab way to clear your mind of worries and de-stress!
Both sustainability and self-care are things that we should all be embracing, and it really is true that a little goes a long way. By making the conscious choice to take care of yourself in a sustainable way, you can be happy knowing that you are contributing to the wellbeing of both yourself and the Earth.