Amidst a time of ecological overwhelm, sustainability requires more than just a consideration of the landscapes surrounding us. In order to show up for the earth, we also have to show up for ourselves. In other words - as we heal ourselves, we heal the earth.
Organic farming, eco-friendly packaging and buying fair trade are all important sustainable practices. And you know what else is sustainable? Self care.
Our external landscapes are a reflection of our internal landscapes. When we’re not tending to our own inner chaos and working towards an inner harmony and equilibrium, how are we supposed to support the ecological and social systems around us in coming back into equilibrium?
We’re not saying that taking a bath will save the earth… BUT we are saying that we should never underestimate the power of filling our own cups. Committing to practices that support our emotional and mental health increases our capacity to show up as more present, grounded and empowered advocates and supporters for the earth.
There’s no question that prioritizing self care and mental health is vital for a sustainable future. And there’s also no question that the lack of this holds us back from creating a path to a more sustainable future, because you know what’s not sustainable? Stress.
These feelings affect your body in a similar manner: by alerting your amygdala. When your amygdala is on fire, you don’t have the capacity to be helpful. And by “helpful” we mean that you aren’t equipped to take action or show up in a supportive manner.
Stress causes the release of cortisol, the stress hormone, which triggers your body’s fight-or-flight response. When we live in this heightened state, our bodies and minds are not prepared to make logical, grounded decisions for long-term decisions. We are more likely to make decisions out of fear, because that’s what our bodies are telling us is necessary for our survival - which simply isn’t the case. To shift towards decisions based in hope, trust and collaboration, we must tackle stress.
The antidotes to stress are self-care and rest.
Rest is revolutionary in bringing us into the state of calm we so badly need, in a society that lives too often in fight-or-flight. When we take time to slow down and prioritize rest and self-care, it provides a break from the emotional stress that has been building up in our bodies. Rest improves our wellbeing and mental health, boosts creativity, strengthens relationships and improves mood.
Name it to tame it.
When we notice feelings coming up in our bodies and name them, we tame them. “This IS scary and it feels scary.” The fear and overwhelm of an ecological crisis isn't necessarily going away, at least not anytime soon. However, when we acknowledge these feelings, we allow them to move through our bodies rather than consuming our mental space and impacting our emotional states.
As we minimize stress and prioritize rest, we create a more sustainable way of relating with ourselves and others. Taking time for self-care allows us to show up from a place of deeper wholeness, so that we can work towards a more sustainable future - both for ourselves and the planet, as we are inextricably interconnected.