Eco-anxiety is real. A lot of people nowadays feel nervous about the current state of the planet and fear the consequences of climate change.
Young people, in particular, live with constant anxiety over ecological degradation. As the world continues to progress, nature is being destroyed through the developments of roads, neighborhoods, stores, parking lots, etc.
So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that living a greener lifestyle can help manage eco-anxiety.
Here are the benefits of eco-friendly living to mental health.
Preservation of Green and Blue Spaces Lead to Stress Relief
Humans evolved to require physical activity and natural sunlight in order to maintain good mental health.
When we remove ourselves from the environment that our bodies crave, we experience what is known as biophilia (the love of life). Without exposure to green spaces and blue spaces (water), humans suffer from decreased levels of serotonin (a neurotransmitter involved in mood regulation) and dopamine (which regulates emotions like pleasure, excitement, or reward), which leads to heightened stress levels and anxiousness.
Numerous studies have already proven the mental health benefits of green and blue spaces. In one study, people who spend at least two hours in the natural environment report better overall well-being.
On the other hand, living in an area with polluted air leads to increased cortisol (a steroid hormone released upon exposure to stress), which decreases serotonin and leads to a number of illnesses.
Mindful Consumption Leads to Mindful Existence
Being mindful of your consumption is key to living a greener lifestyle.
The consumerism of fast fashion and excessive plastic use must end in order to preserve the planet for future generations (and be kinder to our bodies).
Mindful consumption, which involves thinking about how your purchases will affect the environment, leads to reduced anxiety levels. When you consider each purchase, instead of mindlessly buying products, you reduce your impact on the planet. There’s no guilt that you bought an item that you will only use once or not even use at all.
Moreover, it leads to money savings later on. Finances are a common cause of anxiety across all age groups, including younger generations. If you take the environment into account when making purchases, you will naturally spend less.
You’ll Become More Compassionate Toward Your Fellow Earthlings
While it’s great to have a better understanding of your own consumption habits, it’s just as important to understand the consequences of human behavior on other species and habitats.
As humans continue to contribute to climate change through excessive fossil fuel use and unsustainable farming practices, many animal species are being pushed toward extinction. This isn’t just terrible for animals-it also harms humans in terms of physical and mental health.
If you care about this planet and its inhabitants, you will likely experience increased levels of compassion for fellow earthlings. You may feel more inclined to advocate for environmental protection after recognizing the grave effects of climate change on humans and animals alike.
You Gain a Purpose in Life
A sense of purpose is important for mental health.
Caring about something bigger than yourself gives you a reason to get up in the morning, and it allows you to feel like you are making a difference in the world.
When it comes down to caring more deeply about our planet, many people experience this sense of purpose through their newfound eco-friendly lifestyle choices. You don’t need to work for an environmental organization or start lobbying politicians right away (although these actions may be beneficial, too). There are tons of small steps that everyone can take toward living greener lives that will contribute to protecting the environment.
For example, you can switch to clean energy. This is one of the best lifestyle changes that you can make to protect the environment. There are now more solar companies that offer affordable installation of panels and maintenance for residential use.
You can also go vegan or, at least, lessen your consumption of meat and other animal products. This can reduce your carbon footprint, as animal agriculture is responsible for a significant portion of all greenhouse gas emissions.
Whenever you make a change to live greener (no matter how small), you’ll be doing something positive to protect the planet. You’ll feel more purpose in life and will enjoy the mental health benefits that come along with caring about something greater than yourself.
These are only some benefits that come with going green. If you want your mental health to improve over time, consider eco-friendly living practices in your daily life!