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Sustainable wellbeing and green living

Let's find ways to Flourish!

Students and seniors find symbiosis

Do you remember your time as a student where affordable housing meant multiple roommates, and sketchy landlords? Do you perhaps also know a senior who has extra space but lacks good social connections and may be isolated?

An unlikely match: seniors and students

Although these two demographic groups might seem like polar opposites, they actually have housing needs which are quite complimentary.

Let’s look at students first. Students require affordable housing, as they are at a point in their lives where they are trying to finance their education while balancing schoolwork, part-time jobs, and other expenses that occur at this age.

Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of affordable housing in many cities around the world. More specifically, affordable housing located on or near university campuses can be quite hard to come by. First of all, a large number of students attending a single university may cause a significant increase in demand for nearby student housing. This...

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Teaching on the Tundra with Dr. Ryan Brook

"This course changed my life." That is what I heard repeatedly from students who returned from their 2 week experience on the tundra with my former classmate and now colleague, Dr. Ryan Brook. I was intrigued. I don't care how great a teacher you are, it is pretty rare to have students say that your course changed their lives.

But here were multiple students each year professing this same message to me after their tundra experience. And then, I got the phone call that would change my life, and my husband's life and make it so much richer - all while doing crazy amounts of work for long hours and virtually no pay.

And I loved it.

 

 

Dr. Ryan Brook, University of Saskatchewan, Associate Professor

Of course, that phone call was from my former classmate, Ryan Brook. Ryan was now teaching a version of the course that I took when he was the teaching assistant, called Wildlife and Ethnoecology in the Manitoba Coastal Region. What a mouthful that was, but it was a great...

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Reduce your eco-anxiety with this technique

Mindfulness is a term that you are likely to hear and read about quite often. It has become a bit of a buzzword, but despite its recent popularity, mindfulness isn’t a new fad. It's actually a basic human ability that anyone can tap into. Essentially, mindfulness is the ability to centre oneself in the present moment and become aware of our actions without becoming overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.

Even though you may understand the basic premise of mindfulness, it can still be difficult to achieve, and actually feel the positive impacts in your daily life, especially during stressful times (like a pandemic) or when we have other life challenges. But, this is when we actually need it most.

One of the ways mindfulness can help improve your life is through its ability to reduce stress. Mindfulness is being recommended for people going through a variety of especially stressful situations such as serious illness and can be used to also help us at least in part,...

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How the Breath Helps the Mind

Research shows that there are tangible health benefits of hitting pause on our routines and taking a few deep breaths. Our heart rate drops, blood pressure lowers almost immediately, the brain is flooded with oxygen, and our creativity increases while anxiety drops. If we do this deep breathing in nature the benefits are multiplied. We see positive effects on our immune systems and learning.
 
Studies on the health benefits of deep breathing in the forest have been explored for decades already. And you probably have already noticed this yourself, the age-old saying, “take a breath” when confronting a challenge really does help most situations.
 
 
It is what I did instinctively on September 3rd, 2013 at the age of 42 as I sat in my doctor’s office and she walked in briskly to give me the results, “it’s positive”…wait, that’s good, right? Wrong. “It is cancer”. 
 
So, I ask a few more meaningless...
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The bliss of biophilia - indoors!

Why is it that plants, windows with views of greenspace, nature-depicting art pieces, and other natural elements brighten up our indoor environments? Given the choice, most people prefer to spend time in a room that contains these elements instead of a room that is closed off to the outside world. In fact, access to daylight and the outdoors is even a requirement of humane-treatment in some situations like incarceration.

We know that spending time outside is good for our psychological and physiological health. As seen with activities such as gardening, forest bathing, and simply spending time outdoors, nature has restorative properties that we can all benefit from!

So, is it possible that we can access these benefits from indoor environments as well? The answer is yes! Biophilic design is a design strategy that incorporates natural elements into the built environment in order to increase human wellbeing. 

Biophilic design is based on the concept of “biophilia” which...

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Why does gardening make us happy?

Have you noticed that spending time in nature is a great way to enhance your physical and mental wellbeing? Well, you are not alone! There is a reason that gardening and walking outdoors and spending time in nature is such a lasting activity that people keep coming back to - and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Are you growing a garden, perhaps for the first time? It turns out there are benefits to us beyond the joy of watching plants grow and reaping the harvest of our efforts. For starters gardening gives us enjoyable light physical activity and, the psychological benefits of gardening include reduced stress, increased happiness, and overall mood enhancement. To learn more about the benefits of gardening, click here!

Similarly, forest bathing - spending time immersing yourself in nature and connecting to the natural world, provides individuals with significant psychological and physiological improvements such as reduced anxiety, stress relief, decreased blood pressure and...

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The value of green infrastructure

Cities can be great places to live, especially if you are looking to reduce your environmental impact, as higher-density cities use less land per person, encourage methods of active transportation such as walking or biking, and offer pro-environmental businesses and services like carshare and cupshare.

Despite these benefits, cities are often missing a crucial element: nature! One of the biggest differences between rural life and city living is that nature is less accessible and less visible in urban areas. However, this doesn’t have to be the case!

As we have become more aware about the important role that nature plays in the human experience, it has become more common to include green infrastructure in our cities!

Green infrastructure can be defined as the natural vegetative systems such as green spaces and trees in towns and cities that provide us with environmental, societal, and economic benefits.

Different types of green infrastructure and their benefits

Green spaces in...

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The one thing to green your decisions: The Precautionary Principle

What is the Precautionary Principle?

Life can be unpredictable and sometimes the decisions we make end up causing unintended consequences. This is especially the case when it comes to the natural environment and the implementation of new science, technologies, and activities. The unintended consequences of these activities can result in severe environmental harm.

That’s why it is important to take an anticipatory approach in order to mitigate and avoid environmental harm. With the multitude of environmental issues such as climate change, plastic pollution, and biodiversity loss that we are currently facing, it is in our best interest to start taking this approach!

The Precautionary Principle is based on the idea that it is “better to be safe than sorry.” Opposed to a reactive approach which is concerned with resolving negative effects after they have already occurred; (think plastics polluting the ocean) the Precautionary Principle is preventative.

The...

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The Sustainable Wellbeing of Hygge

Did you know there is a word that describes the feeling of coziness and contentment we experience when taking part in our favourite feel-good activities or indulging in the small comforts of life? The Danish word, “Hygge” (pronounced hue-ga) describes exactly that. Hygge can come in many shapes and forms, as it is any experience that you find comforting and enjoyable, and of course, it is not just experienced by the Danes and it is not only for cold winter climates!

Hygge has been recently adopted into the English language and is defined by the Oxford Dictionary as “A quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.”

By including the word hygge in our vocabulary, we are better able to recognize the feeling of hygge, and the activities that make us feel hygge. This can encourage us to make an effort to incorporate hygge into their lives, and foster Sustainable Wellbeing, which is the wellbeing that comes...

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How workplace culture can promote wellbeing with mandated vacations!

Wouldn’t it be nice to take time off from work and take an actual break? To many, this may seem impossible due to work constraints and peer pressure in the workplace that prevents people from actually taking their vacation days. I know that for many years I did not take my full allocation of vacation days - it seemed that there was just always too much work to do.

Luckily, many businesses are embracing the idea of mandatory vacation days in an effort to keep their employees happy and healthy. Although required by law in most countries around the world, allocated vacation days or paid time off, often go unused by employees. According to Expedia’s Vacation Deprivation Study, 31 million vacation days were unused by Canadians in 2016. In 2018, 768 million vacation days in the United States went unused.

Clearly there is an issue at hand. Employees are feeling that they are unable to take their vacation days, often due to demanding work schedules, looming deadlines, and...

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