Earth Day 2021 - The Importance of Self-Preservation in a Struggling World
Our planet is currently facing more problems than it ever has before. The task of saving our planet seems gargantuan, and often unachievable. It’s hard to go anywhere or do anything without being confronted by one of the many problems our natural world is facing, from the industrial farming methods used to create our food, to the disposable plastic that is used to package it. For the eco-conscious person aware of all of this, it can seem staggering. Even for folk who are unaware of a number of the atrocities affecting our world; the weight of the environmental crises, on top of holding together our social, professional and personal lives, can often feel overwhelming. It is not surprising that so many of us feel helpless and hopeless to combat these problems, or that so many of us choose not to act, because it all seems like too much.
This article is not written with the intention of providing the solutions to the global environmental crises. It is written to provide tools and insight into how we can better care for our well-being in these trying times, and how better well-being can equip us with the motivation and determination necessary to make positive changes.
Time spent worrying is time wasted. It can feel so necessary to worry – we feel that if we are
not worrying about something, we don’t care about it, or are not doing it justice. Worrying is the process by which our brains attempt to help s prepare for future eventualities, that may or may not occur. Very rarely do we come up with solutions to these problems while we are worrying, and the more time we spend worrying, the more stressed we become, which among other things brings on emotional and physical fatigue.
For eco-conscious people, we can easily manifest feelings of guilt when we consider taking some time out for ourselves, time not spent thinking about the planet. It can feel like we are doing a disservice to the planet if we do not spend every waking moment thinking and worrying about how we can save it. Living in this constant state of worry and stress that so many of us do, however, is not a productive use of time, and is extremely detrimental to our health. So how can we ensure that we are doing what we can for the planet, as well as taking the time to look after ourselves?
Making time to be
So if none of the world’s problems (or our own!) can be solved by worrying, what else can we do with that time?
Building ourselves up to a place of better well-being benefits everyone. In a place of better well-being, our cognitive processes are healthier. We can see more positive outcomes, and are better prepared to find the solutions to achieve them. Not to mention, if we learn to manifest a more constant state of healthy well-being, our lives will be richer, happier and full of contentment.
But it’s hard to put our focus into improving our well-being when we are so constantly bombarded with bad news, which makes us worry, right? I understand this completely. In the hope that this will help at least a few people cultivate a healthier and more balanced mind in these dark environmental times, I have put together the following tips. These are all activities I have actioned myself over the past few months that have proved to be very effective. Most of them will be things we have all heard before, and things I myself have heard or read and thought … “No those suggestions are too simplistic and won’t work”. Disclaimer: they will work if you want them to work, and if you put enough time into them.
Switching off the news and social media
Most of us are aware that the majority of the news we are exposed too is negative. It is draining to be exposed to negative news consistently throughout the day. For this reason it can be helpful to commit to watching the news only once a day/week (whatever works for you!). It is important to stay aware of what’s going on in the world, but you are doing no-one a disservice by switching off from it to preserve your well-being!
When your mind is constantly occupied with the state of the world, engaging in and practicing a hobby is an amazing distraction. Practicing a hobby engages you fully with the task at hand – that exact activity. It takes your focus off negative things, allows your mind to flow, and brings about a state of peace and contentment. Practicing something and becoming better at it also improves your sense of self-worth and self-confidence; qualities essential for giving you the self-belief needed to take positive action for the causes you believe in.
Again, it can feel frivolous to go out/stay in and have fun with your friends or family with all the global problems occurring at the moment. However, it is essential to take time away from your cause to re-charge. Fun and companionship are so beneficial for our well-being, and when our well-being is in a good state, so are we in a better state to face the challenges of today!
Meditation is one of those bug-bears for most people. Either you’ve tried it and loved it, tried it and given up, or heard about it and brushed it off as new-age hippy voo-doo. The fact is that meditation is simply the act of learning to not engage with every thought and feeling that you experience. Though it does take practice and time, it has the potential to be extremely beneficial to all those who practice it. Our minds are so busy and can feel like they’re going at a million miles an hour – practicing meditation provides you with the tools you need to slow your mind down and not get wrapped up in every negative thought that enters your mind.
Exercise is another one of those things that we are all told to do but many of us are sceptical of. I believe this is because many people perceive they are being told that simply exercising will solve all their problems. We all know that it wont, BUT – it does help to build self-confidence, clear your mind, and work off anxious and negative energy. Any form of exercise, whether it be horse-riding, yoga, swimming, or weight-lifting, is all beneficial. I have found that by regularly exercising in the last few months (for the first time in my life!), my self-belief has dramatically increased, and along with that my confidence in myself to overcome challenges that before I thought impossible!
Sleep is perhaps the most important thing of all. We will all have noticed how groggy and difficult the day following a bad night's sleep is. Good sleep hygiene is so beneficial for our well-being, as many healthcare professionals will tell you. Things like switching off all screens an hour before bed, writing all your thoughts down before you sleep to get them out of your head, and allowing enough time to get a good night's rest will all help us to sleep better. With better rest, we have more energy, focus, and better mood's during the day!
It is important to remember and appreciate what we have in the present moment, rather than being consumed by worry that it is not going to last forever. For so long I found myself looking out over beautiful scenery like woodlands and beaches, and not seeing them at that time, but worrying about what might happen to them in the future. While we must be aware of what negative things could happen and do what we can to prevent them, it is not beneficial to let that prevent us appreciating things in the moment. Manifesting gratitude for what it is in the moment, and learning to do this more day by day, will help to bring about a calmer and more content state of well-being.
All the above tips can be counted as self-care, but finally, it is important to take time each day, just for you. Not necessarily to do any self-improvement activities, but just to do something that you enjoy that relaxes you and brings you calm, e.g. having a bath, reading a book, cooking yourself a nice meal etc. This unwinding time is so important to recharge your batteries!
All of these things do take time it is true, which can feel hard to find around our busy schedules. However, once we realise the importance of self-care in the current times, we will commit to making the time. It is achievable, whether it means getting up a little earlier in the morning, or practicing self-care for 30 minutes instead of watching the television. It all helps!
No-one can pour from an empty cup. To be able to make a positive difference in the face of the planet’s issues, we must have the inner capacity, which can only be created and nurtured by maintaining a good state of well-being. We only have hope of saving the planet together, not apart, and from a place of positivity. Happy Earth Day to all our followers; we hope this article helps!