Self-Care is Earth Care: Taking care of our Body, Mind, & Planet
As human beings, feeding our body and mind is a no-brainer - we all have a rough idea of what we need to do to look after and nourish our bodies and our minds. Eating healthily, exercising, reading a book, unplugging from technology, and getting enough sleep are just some of the many things we can do. But knowing how to take care of the planet while we’re at it might not be so simple.
Simply put, what’s good for our bodies and minds is good for the planet, and what's bad for the earth is bad for our health. The notion that attending to our own wellness must also include caring for our planet’s health is definitely worth exploring.
The need for Self Care
Face masks, dinner at a fancy restaurant, scented bath salts, indulging in an expensive tub of ice cream. Self-care is considered a luxurious escape we have for dealing with stress that builds up in our daily lives. We’ve all been there; we’re having a bad day and all we want to do is unwind. There’s nothing wrong with treating ourselves occasionally, but is it really self-care?
For many of us, self-care involves self-indulgent behaviours; we’re all familiar with the feeling of the instant gratification that consumerism provides. But we all probably practice smaller self care habits than we realise; exercising, meditating, eating healthy. It’s important to recognise however that having the ability, time, energy, knowledge, and resources to practice self-care is definitely considered a privilege [link to marie’s article on wellness]. There are those who simply do not have access to the tips, ideas, or practice of self-care. Not to mention that many self-care practices require money and time - a form of privilege that many don’t have.
Despite what the wellness industry promotes, self-care doesn’t have to involve high-cost, overt indulgence, or copious amounts of time. While self care looks different for everyone, one thing it should be is a long term commitment to practicing compassion to yourself. Self-care isn’t one size fits all, we must respect how others care for their emotional and physical well being.
Planet Care for Self Care
Sometimes, we get so distracted by our own worries that we forget the bigger picture. Where do we fit in the grand scheme of things? Remembering that we come from something bigger than ourselves can be comforting and grounding. Thinking of our connection to this earth can help us practice self care while taking care of the environment around us - planet care. Below are some simple ways to take care of yourself and the planet that we call home:
1.Your body is a temple
Food fuels both our body and mind. Our bodies are the vessel that carries us through life, so reward it by focusing on what’s going inside. You can easily make dietary changes to help your health and please the planet. The more natural and nutritious things you consume, the better! Foods like fruits, vegetables, beans, and wholegrains are best for avoiding diseases whilst also protecting the climate and water resources. Eating well improves overall health and well being. Physically, you’ll have more energy. Mentally, you’ll feel more alert.
Another huge way to heal the earth is to eat less meat, where 18% of greenhouse gas emissions come from industrialized livestock production. There are plenty of eco friendly diets and sustainable eating habits that you can adopt that will benefit both your health and the planet.
2. Minding your mind
The interplay between environmental degradation and mental health isn’t commonly discussed, but the planet has become an unfortunate victim at the expense of increasing mental health issues. With the numbers of young and old people with mental health problems rising, rapid increases in prescriptions of antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications are polluting our waters and changing animal behaviours.
It’s important to note that self care isn't as glamorous as the companies selling self care products would have us believe. There are times where self-care seems like a lot of work, but it gives us permission to see ourselves fully. Natural ways to feel better include exercising, getting enough sleep, pursuing a hobby, spending time outdoors, and developing a strong support system. If you do take medications, make sure to dispose of them properly.
Spending time in green space or bringing nature into your everyday life can also benefit your mental (and physical) wellbeing. Sitting outside for breakfast, spending time by the water, or going for a walk in a park are all small ways to start. Appreciating the land around us can not only heal ourselves by spending time outside, but by caring for the land, the water, the air, and wildlife.
3. Choosing organic/natural products
Whether you’re buying food, cosmetics, or clothes, try to ensure that the things you’re putting in or on your body is free from pesticides or chemicals that harm the planet and your innards! Choosing sustainable products might cost more in the short-term, but in the long term you’ll not only be saving money, but you’ll be taking care of the planet and your health.
4. Cutting out plastic
Many of us are aware of the dangers plastic has on our planet, but how about the harm plastic has on human health? Despite being one of the most pervasive materials on the planet, plastic and its impact on human health remain poorly understood. Nonetheless, plastic’s life cycle paints a clear and troubling picture: plastic threatens human health on a global scale. From heating food in plastic containers, reusing plastic water bottles, and even scientific concerns about BPA, it’s best to steer clear from these toxic synthetics. Going plastic free is not as hard as it sounds - an easy way to start is to swap single-use plastics such as water bottles and bags for reusable options like tote bags or a reusable glass container.
Taking care of the planet whilst looking after our physical and mental health should serve as a reminder that our actions add up over time. We have a chance to both treat ourselves better, and heal the damage to our planet at the same time.