Though the two may seem to lack connection, mindfulness and sustainability can actually go hand-in-hand. This may be especially true if you wish to adopt new sustainability practices or change various habits that affect the environment. So, how do they go together, and what can you do if you need help with mindfulness?
To understand how mindfulness can support sustainability, it may be helpful to first define mindfulness as a standalone concept. The American Psychological Association or APA dictionary describes and defines mindfulness as, “awareness of one’s internal states and surroundings.” Mindfulness is a common tool employed in the mental health field, and it is commonly used in interventions like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).
Mindfulness is helpful for grounding oneself, helping us think before we speak or act, and modifying habits, thinking patterns, and behaviors to make them more beneficial and adaptive. This is where it has the potential to support sustainability efforts and any behaviors we’d like to adjust or take on to better support the world around us.
Use Mindfulness To Support Sustainability
How can you put mindfulness into action? Here are some mindfulness-oriented questions to help guide you toward a more sustainable life:
What do I really need?
Mindfulness can help you center yourself, which means that you can better get in touch with what you really need. Sometimes, we over-purchase items or make choices while in the moment that don’t align with our values. This could be out of habit, or it could be that you purchase items to self-soothe that are actually unnecessary, not within your budget, or that won’t be used. If you are about to purchase something that does not align with your sustainability values, you might ask yourself this question.
Is there a better way?
Is there a way to meet your needs that better supports your values in sustainability? Maybe, you can purchase something that is used instead of buying a new item. Or, you may be able to do something like carpool with others, walk, or use public transit instead of driving on your own, depending on who you are and where you live.
What’s my current impact on the world around me?
Take inventory of your habits and how they may impact the environment. Habits to consider may relate to:
- Food packaging and storage. For example, disposable plates or containers used at home when re-usable items would be ideal and practical, takeout containers, bags, or cups when re-usable cups and bags would be ideal and practical, and so on.
- General recycle and waste. For example, throwing away cardboard that could be recycled.
- Water and energy usage. Common examples may include running water when it isn’t being used and less environmentally friendly ways of transportation.
Note that not everyone has the access to make certain efforts. Sometimes, food packaging, as a common example, is unavoidable. Look at the changes you can make as a unique individual with your own circumstances in mind. Writing to organizations and corporations who can make a large difference in the environment – perhaps, far more than the impact of an individual – may be an option, as can signing petitions. Implementing sustainability practices may be somewhat of a confidence booster because you’ll know that you’re doing something positive for the world around you.
Small Changes Are Valuable
Small changes matter when it comes to preserving the environment. You are only one person, and while you cant do it all, your efforts toward making the world a healthier, more livable, and more sustainable place matter. Also, make sure to employ self-compassion.
You can involve the people around you (family, friends, acquaintances, and even other people within your community at large), join local efforts and organizations that work toward sustainability, and educate yourself and others on ways to support the environment that are within your personal financial and physical capacity.
Get Help With Mindfulness
You can learn more about mindfulness through free web resources on BetterHelp or other websites, books, and other forms of media. However, if you need help practicing mindfulness, have trouble implementing the new habits you want to include in your life, or want a safe space to talk about the environment and any other topic that affects your daily life, therapy is an excellent option.
Mental health providers who offer talk therapy have a range of specialties and work with various populations. Regardless of how you find support and work to put good into the world, take pride in your effort, and don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional if you need help or want a safe place to talk at any point in time.