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Sustainable New Year's Resolutions

Like so many people, I do love a fresh start, feeling that I can and will do better, and evolve who I am, becoming the best version of myself. Sound familiar? Unfortunately, I see that way too many of these resolutions revolve around losing weight or eating right, but what I see as truly transformative is living in alignment with our values.

That means living better for the planet - and for our own bodies, in fact, those two acts generally overlap. So, if this sounds like the year that you want to have, where your actions every day are working towards to future that you want, one that is sustainable for the planet AND for yourself, here are my tips on how to get there.

Guess what? It is actually pretty simple.

Yeah, so that sounds great, right? But how exactly do I live that out daily? Have you ever seen ads that talked about this concept...without trying to sell you something? Well, the reality, of course, is that we all consume material goods, food, and resources. But can we do this in a way that is less about consumption and more about the quality of life that we want to foster?

Here are some ways to live out this principle:

Sure, we have to use screens for many things, like earning an income (perhaps) or connecting with friends and family, and also for entertainment. But let's not let it be all-consuming. It is SO easy to let one episode run into another and another on our streaming platforms. Or, to lose hours to social media, forgetting entirely what we went there looking for in the first place. And, this can feel really crummy, physically and mentally.

And, it turns out that studies are confirming this. Time spent on social media can deplete our sense of self-worth. Sitting for prolonged periods of time not only feels bad, it is bad for our bodies. So mentally and physically we are not doing ourselves any favours by spending unchecked hours in front of screens.

Oh, and that doesn't even touch on the blue light that can interfere with our natural circadian rhythm which is necessary for a restful night's sleep. So, trying to balance screen time with real-world activities, fresh air and physical activity is a really great action. Heck, I am about to go move my body with a little run as soon as I am done here.

Up next...spending money versus spending time

Ok, I know that you can also spend money on experiences with others and those you love, and, it turns out this is the ONE way that money can make us happy. But remember, so much consumption is really not necessary. We often focus on our wants and not needs, but where did those wants come from anyways? Likely from advertisements by clever marketers who know how to get us to think that it was our idea. But really, if we step back a moment and get some clarity on what makes us happy it is really not material consumption. It is relationships, experiences and who we can be in the world.

So, how about spending more energy and even money on experiences that you value. Outdoors, with friends, building relationships, and doing something really lovely for yourself - like being physically active, or taking action that makes you feel like you are living out your values. Now that feels good!

That leads us to feelings, anxiety and what we can do to feel better.

So many of us have experienced feelings of sadness, despair and real grief over the state of the world. Climate change, plastic pollution, loss of biodiversity and what your neighbour is doing running his vehicle or applying pesticides. Yep. I get that. I have felt it overwhelm me too.

It can be a crippling feeling of despair. And unfortunately, those feelings can keep us from taking the action that the world so desperately needs. Eco-anxiety and climate grief are real. Please don't feel alone or that your feelings are not valid, because they are. But what we need to focus on are the actions that we can take that actually start to foster change, and guess what, taking action feels really good.

Be a part of the change. Any action towards living lighter is worthwhile, but if you want my help in making the impact you are meant to make, just reach out to me. I would love to chat with you about it!

Here are some concrete steps to take:

I never liked the saying of "killing two birds with one stone", but this action exemplifies what you can do with one action that is both great for the planet and great for your body! Eat more whole, unprocessed foods, eat less meat, eat more plants (whole grains, nuts, fruit and veggies), eat local food and eat foods in season.

While we're at it, cook more often, and avoid single-use plastics and styrofoam take-out containers...please! I am not saying that you can't enjoy restaurant food, of course, we want to support our local businesses. But choose wisely. Ask questions, and build relationships. Know where your food comes from.

There are so many amazing ways to eat good food, and eat for the planet. Start at your local farmer's market, community-supported agriculture or local section at the grocery store. Read labels, go on Pinterest, even my mom finds her recipes there! Experiment. Get your friends in on it. Share meals together, and really, really enjoy your food.

Appreciate all it took to get this sustenance to your plate. The sun and rain, the animals, the farmer, the transportation, the wholesaler, the retailer, the shopper, the chef, the energy at every stage. Appreciate that. Don't waste it. Savour it. 

That is good for your body and for the earth.

Now, what about some self-care?

Who here hasn't been caught up in patterns of self-criticism? Most of us have been there at some point. But I know that real change happens when we act from a place of love. We cannot on one hand claim to care for nature and creatures of the earth and then not give ourselves that same care and compassion.

We too are beings of nature, and deserve care.

But pay attention to what real self-care entails. Getting a manicure and going shopping is not it. This does nothing to align us with our values. Real self-care means caring for our physical, mental and spiritual wellbeing. And how do we do that?

Back to simplicity:

  • Sleep enough - that means 7 to 9 hours each night for all adults.
  • Eat - whole unprocessed foods, and eat more plants and less meat.
  • Exercise - moderate daily exercise, and outdoors when possible.
  • Meditation / Mindfulness - take time out to calm your busy mind. Use an App like Headspace or Calm.
  • Spend time in Nature - it is good for your body and mind. Don't worry, nature is all around us - even in the city! You can get active in nature in under an hour!
  • Express gratitude - it makes you feel good, and is just a nice thing to do!
  • Find your community - if you want to connect with more like-minded people, get in touch with me!
  • Celebrate success - and you are already doing lots - celebrate that. It will keep you inspired to keep moving in the right direction!

Wishing you all the best for the year ahead! And, if you want some more resources on how to take action, just reach out to me.

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