Guest contributor, Julie Morris
When we’re feeling stressed and overworked, we have a tendency to choose the easiest path. But far too often, while the path is easier, it isn’t good for us or the environment. For example, I think most of us are guilty of grabbing some fast food on our way home after a long day of work so we won’t have to spend time cooking a homemade meal. Of course, fast food’s negative impact on our health is widely documented, but it’s important to note that many of the companies that produce fast food are also huge polluters.
Fortunately, there are many ways to lead a more sustainable, well-balanced life, and many of those ways are growing in popularity. Here are a few:
Revamp your ride to work. While the monotony of sitting in traffic on your daily commute is no fun, what’s worse is how that commute affects your body. It turns out our commutes are bad for both our physical and mental health, increasing blood sugar and cholesterol along with depression and anxiety. And of course, relying so heavily on our cars is also bad for the environment, leading to 50 - 90 percent of carbon emissions.
There are many great alternatives to driving to work, and they offer physical and mental health boosts while also helping you lead a more sustainable life. For example, if your commute isn’t terribly long, you could reap the physical health benefits of walking or biking to work. You might also carpool, either via public transportation or a rideshare with coworkers. Both are more environmentally sound than driving yourself to work and they’ll allow you to save money on gas and wear and tear on your vehicle.
Volunteer. Get out of your office for a bit and volunteer. Volunteering is a great way to not only give back to your community but to feel more a part of it as well. If you’re not sure where to start, your local library is a great option. Reading is food for the mind and soul, and volunteering at a library gives you the opportunity to share the gift of reading with adults and children in your community. It’s very rewarding, and you’ll have easy access to that best seller you’ve been trying to get your hands on!
Visit your local dog park. We like to think we take care of our pets, but it turns out they do quite a bit of taking care of us. As it turns out, they’re great for our heart health and help boost our mental health and prevent depression as well. When you’re overwhelmed by a busy day at work, make some time to spend with a four-legged friend. A dog park is a great place to start. Taking your buddy to the bark park will allow you to spend some time outdoors and soak up some Vitamin D, socialize in a stress-free setting with other adults, and get a few moments of peace before going back to the grind. These days, most cities, large and small, have dog parks. Here are a few great examples:
Start gardening. Planting your own veggies, spices, and fruits is a great way to practice sustainable living. Gardening is also great for your health. It helps reduce stress, provides a great form of exercise, boosts our immune systems, and more. A great way to make gardening a part of your work-life balance is to start a community garden at your work. Doing so offers a stress-free way for you to socialize with your coworkers and also promotes teamwork. And just think about the sense of satisfaction you’ll all feel when you’re able to put together a department lunch using the foods you’ve grown in your garden.
Whether your goal is to practice sustainability or you simply need a way to prevent your work from taking over your life, these activities are a great place to start. Even if you choose just one, I think you’ll quickly begin to reap amazing health and lifestyle benefits.
Photo by RyanMcGuire