Celebrate Earth Day with Mindfulness: Tips for Honoring the Planet and Your Mental Health
What is Earth Day? Imagine this…before 1970 a factory could spew out black clouds of toxic smoke into the air or dump tons of toxic waste into a nearby streams. And guess what? It actually was not illegal. Back then there was no Environmental Protection Agency, no Clean Air Act, and no Clean Water Act. There were essentially no legal or regulatory protections in place for the environment.
Who established Earth Day? In the spring of 1970, Senator Gaylord Nelson created Earth Day to push this issue onto the national agenda. Twenty million Americans demonstrated in different U.S. cities and it worked! In December 1970, Congress authorized the creation of a new federal agency to tackle environmental issues – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
When is Earth Day? Earth Day falls on April 22 every year. This year, it falls on a Saturday.
“Earth Day is the first holy day which transcends all national borders, yet preserves all geographical integrities, spans mountains and oceans and time belts, and yet brings people all over the world into one resonating accord, is devoted to the preservation of the harmony in nature and yet draws upon the triumphs of technology, the measurement of time, and instantaneous communication through space.”Margaret Mead, Cultural Anthropologist
Why do we celebrate Earth Day? Millions of people around the world celebrate and recognize Earth Day to connect with nature, as well as advocate for and protect the planet and its resources. Earth Day puts a collective global focus on celebrating and preserving the earth’s beauty for decades and centuries to come.
How can I honor Earth Day with Mental Health in mind?
Being in nature is one of the best stress management strategies out there and Colorado is a beautiful place to spend time in nature! Spending time in nature improves overall mood, reduces stress, and increases physical, mental, and social wellness.
According to a recent Harvard study, people that walked in a natural setting instead of an urban one for 90+ minutes experienced lower activity in the prefrontal cortex of the brain—the area of the brain that is active when we ruminate on negative emotions or repetitive thoughts.
While Coloradans have a backyard full of gorgeous natural spaces to explore, often it’s not as simple as just walking outside and being in nature. Here are some tips to incorporate nature into your daily routine:
- Work outside whenever you get a chance. If you work remotely at all or take work home with you, charge your laptop, then head out to your balcony or backyard to work when you can. If you don’t work remotely, perhaps considering sitting down to pay your monthly bills or check your personal emails outdoors.
- Position yourself near a window. Heading outdoors with your work or at home responsibilities might not always be an option. You can still reap the benefits of the outdoors by giving yourself a view of the natural world. Sit by a window or better yet, if the weather is nice, open the windows and let fresh air in to invigorate you and your space!
- Take walks. Not all of us enjoy or have easy access to being physically active in nature, but even an act as simple as taking a neighborhood walk or stretching in a nearby park or your backyard can do wonders. Any sort of physical movement in nature can reduce stress and boost focus, increase productivity, and positively contribute to overall wellbeing.
- Take your bite or beverage outside. Whenever possible, sit outside to drink your morning coffee or tea, eat lunch at a nearby picnic table, or have dinner on your patio. We’re fortunate to live in a state where bugs are minimal and shade really cools us off, even in the warmer months.
- Try an outdoor hobby. Your options are limitless depending on your desired activity level – there are local sports leagues, camping, hiking, cycling, gardening in a community plot, birdwatching…the list could go on forever!
- Add a few plants to your space. Make your desk a little more relaxing with a few potted plants. Consider plants that are compatible with your space. If you get a fair amount of sunlight, you might try planting a small herb garden, cactuses, or succulents. If your space is dimly lit, try low-light plants such as Pothos, Philodendron, or bamboo. As your plant thrives, your mental health might too!
Looking for other ways to celebrate Earth Day?
- Want to meditate and reflect more on Earth Day? Join Sarah Bass, Community Engagement Coordinator with Jefferson Center, for a free 30-minute Earth Day meditation Thursday, April 20, 2023 from 10-10:30am. You can call 303-502-5189 or go to the website at www.uberconference.com/jcplhomeservices to join on a computer.
- Do some research for how you can contribute as an individual. A wise woman once said, “Do good, feel good” and what better time than Earth Day to engage in individual choices that positively impact the climate?