“When we walk like we’re rushing, we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth. Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.” – Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Master
To care for the planet, you must first care for yourself. During PGC, we’ve asked you to think about the big picture: your impact on the world through an intersectional lens of justice, ecological footprints, waste, food, fashion and more. But the actions you take to care for yourself are just as important as the actions you take to care for the Earth and others. We need a healthy, balanced, sustained YOU now and for the long haul — with the robust energy and stamina to be an effective, enduring changemaker. In moments of high personal, academic or societal stress, wellness may feel like a low priority. But with a toolbox of techniques and commitment to prioritizing health, you can actually accomplish a lot more, while also feeling your best!
Today, we invite you to sustain yourself! Take a deep breath, clear your mind, and celebrate your extraordinary accomplishments in Project Green Challenge (and life!) thus far. With that, let’s get started on your daily dose of wellness.
From spending time outdoors in backyards or national parks, preparing a FLOSN meal, or sharing an afternoon with friends, there are countless ways that you can practice self-care and connect with yourself, while also connecting with the planet.
Here are ten simple ways you can choose health and well-being in daily life!
- Eat well. You are what you eat, and eating healthy, FLOSN (fresh, local, organic, seasonal, nutritious) foods provides the proper fuel to stay energized throughout the day. Use the Seasonal Food Guide to find what foods are in season where you live! Keep them in mind the next time you buy produce.
- Exercise. It’s important to schedule time to move your body, especially after sitting for extended periods of time in class or on Zoom. Find a way to stay active that you enjoy. Exercise has many physiological and mental benefits, including reduced risk of chronic disease, increased productivity, and boosted mood. Even a walk around the neighborhood or opting for the stairs instead of the elevator have health benefits. If those don’t work for your body, try to find something small that you can do to feel strong!
- Disconnect from electronics. You’ve most likely been spending more time on electronics than usual, so let your eyes and mind rest from digital stimulation. To reduce strain, try turning on the blue-filter on your devices, and find leisure activities like reading books (yes, actual books!) that don’t involve a screen. Being off screens for just 3o minutes before bedtime can help you sleep better, so…
- Get your zzzs. It is important to prioritize quality sleep, even when an all-nighter seems like the only option to accomplish everything on your agenda. Sleep helps you retain information and perform better, maintain a healthy metabolism, and strengthen your immune system. For optimal sleep, have a consistent sleep schedule and calming nighttime routine.
- Study smart. Eliminate distractions when studying. Turning off your phone when hitting the books means you’ll be more productive, leaving extra free time to spend however you’d like. Try the Pomodoro method as a productivity tool or the Forest app, where you can plant trees while staying away from your phone!
- Follow your bliss. Have fun! Carve out time to do something that brings you joy and helps you relax. Whether that means going for a walk, talking with a friend or family member, painting (or doodling!), or reading a good book, make conscious time to do what feeds your soul.
- Practice mindfulness. Being fully present and aware of the world around you has proven to help manage stress, increase memory and attention, and even boost immune systems! Try a simple meditation practice here or here, and read this article to see how you can incorporate mindfulness into everyday activities.
- Practice gratitude. Be thankful and show appreciation for your life and those around you. Similar to mindfulness, gratitude has been shown to increase happiness, lower blood pressure, improve sleep patterns, and even prolong life. Check out this 2-minute video on the science of gratitude and how to integrate it into your life.
- Explore holistic alternatives. Holistic medicine helps people regain balance in life by considering the whole person: body, mind, spirit, and emotions. Consider natural remedies and preventive self-care.
- Reconnect with Mother Earth. Immerse yourself in nature! Find a natural space — whether your backyard, a nearby trail or community green space — where you can sit and engage all senses. Spending just 2 hours weekly in nature has proven positive results physically, mentally and emotionally!
Healthy habits don’t just become a part of your life overnight. No one has ever created or broken a habit instantly. It takes conscious thought, attention and repetition over time, so let’s focus our energies on wellness practices. We recommend you to go outside, to explore, to get in touch with nature, to listen, to set intentions, and to reflect, all of which connect us to ourselves and surroundings in meaningful ways. But how do we make those types of practices second nature, and thereby improve health, concentration, and happiness?
- Think about positive habits in your life, perhaps taking inspiration from what has undoubtedly shifted during Covid-19, as Natracare outlines here. Sit comfortably, either inside or out, with your phone off (or at least on airplane mode to remove distractions!) and a notebook or upcycled piece of paper and pen in hand.
- First, define wellness in your own terms. What does it mean in your own life?
- Now, write down at least three habits or activities that foster wellness and bring you joy. Then write three habits or go-to behaviors that you would like to change or let go of to be a healthier version of yourself physically and/or mentally.
- Create a visual depiction, doodle or word cloud with as many positive habits that support WELLNESS as you can think of. Take inspiration from the above introduction or anywhere else.
Showing appreciation for life and those around us is one of the simplest ways to improve well-being, yet few of us make gratitude a daily practice. It’s never too late to start being thankful or put that into higher gear!
- Start by watching An Experiment in Gratitude: The Science of Happiness.
- After taking a moment to reflect on this video, think of a person for whom you are grateful. Write a letter to this person detailing why you are grateful. Include ways they have positively contributed to your life. Be personal, intentional and genuine.
- After you have written your letter, read it to that person (if possible), whether face-to-face, by phone, video call or even send by snail mail. Take note of their reaction and how it made both of you feel.
- Reflect on your letter and their reaction. Maybe even write a short reflection on this experience.
The benefits of mindfulness are widely known, promoted by health professionals, celebrities, self-help gurus, Marines, incarcerated people, and many many more. While it may seem complex, mindfulness is simply practicing the art of creating space – to think, to breathe, to recognize connections between ourselves, reactions, others and surroundings. Mindfulness is a mental and spiritual practice, but dedicated physical space that supports the process is known to be very helpful. We hope that heightened self-awareness will help you think about and further develop a vision of how you seek to effect change in the community and world.
Create a self-care sanctuary for practicing mindfulness, self-connection and relaxation. Get creative and dream big! And remember to prioritize sustainability and health, with the key learnings from the impact of plastics, excess waste and more.
- Curate a photo collage or Pinterest board that includes aspects you would include in this space to enable you to best tap into mindfulness.
- What would help you destress or create a soothing environment? Include a note about why you included each item.
- With your imagination flowing, pick a space (however small and cozy!) in your room, home or yard to designate as that self-care-sanctuary.
- Start transforming the space into a mini self-care sanctuary using pieces you have at home. Take advantage of light, drawing your own art, incorporating plants or twigs! Be innovative! For inspiration, look over these tips.
- Once complete, sit in it for a moment (or a few!), breathe deeply and center yourself through a practice of your choice.
- Afterwards, write a brief reflection on your experience. How did it feel creating a sanctuary? How do you plan on using it and the knowledge you acquired moving forward?