Written by: 
Guest - Miruna Iliescu

Mindfully green - Overcoming overwhelm by living a sustainable lifestyle

We hear a lot about the planet getting sick, the increase in plastic consumption, the pollution of the oceans and the undeniable climate change that us, people, are responsible for. But I am not here to talk about all that (today). My thoughts and recommendation in this article try to tackle the individual well being and the perks of living an almost-sustainable, eco-responsible life. Stay with me until the end of this post and I will walk you though the first steps in understanding why and how a personal connection with a green living can offer you a better, happier life.

But first… What does well-being actually mean?

Research shows that mental ill-health usually goes undetected by friends, family or colleagues of the person. Sometimes even by the person experiencing it. This might happen because people aren’t sure what a poor or good mental health actually looks like.

Therefore, the first step in achieving mental health is to have a clear definition of it. As authors Donna Butler and Gill Hasson detail in their book, a good mental health means a decent self-esteem and feeling reasonably confident in yourself. It means feeling safe to experience emotions from joy to anger or sadness, and everything in-between. I could even vouch that a good mental health means you don’t get held back by your own thoughts or feelings in order to reach your full potential.

#1. Mental and physical health go hand in hand.

Have these last months made you feel tired and constantly pursuing productivity? You are not alone. According to the Department of Mental Health in Thailand, during the 2020 pandemic people have been suffering from anxiety, stress, fear and depression. They have been showing symptoms such as anger, bad feelings, frustration and losing concentration. Understanding and mitigating factors linked to mental health has been a concern amongst countries such as Israel, The US and European countries. Trends in searching for terms indicating economic concerns, suicide related and specific social stressors appear to have risen in most countries.

  • Eat healthy and work out regularly

Diets and food choices should be adapted to each body and the most important step is to educate yourself. For today, I would focus on kicking sugar cravings. You all think now about those cakes and doughnuts during the exam period, right? But sugar is hidden under different names in our everyday food, sometimes even in the ones promoted as “healthy”. Reducing your sugar consumption will help you reduce the risk of developing health issues like diabetes, heart disease, poor dental health, obesity or premature aging of the skin.

Don’t forget to exercise regularly. Even if we cannot go to the gym anymore, there is lots of online training and you can even try meditation and relaxation courses. Someone once introduced me to Yoga with Adriene and here I am, passing on the wisdom. I promise you will fall in love with her voice and vibe!

  • Better work-life balance

When studying and working from home a clear work-life balance can be difficult to define. Are we going to online classes or the online classes are coming to our bedroom? Reclaim your leisure time and give yourself reasons to turn off the computer and disconnect from homework, tasks and unfinished activities. Life-changing in my professional life was discovering the theory behind the Zeigarnik effect: the effect which advances the idea that people remember unfinished or interrupted tasks better than completed tasks. Therefore, when an activity that has been interrupted, it may be more readily recalled. So unfinished tasks keep popping up in our heads leading to stress and burden. How did I solve this subconscious & mysterious activity of my brain? I started making lists and my brain is no longer stressed by remembering pending activities. Each one of my friends getting to know my MO are astonished by my “to-do or not-to-do” agenda for each project I’m involved in.

#2. Take care of your environment

Nowadays, your environment is your room, your small planet in the big universe that the city might illustrate. Your room is where you study, you laugh, you e-meet your friends and you relax. But...

  • How much attention have you paid to your room?

We used to like to go into nature, to climb mountains and dive into the oceans. And we hated to see them covered in plastic residuals. Why should your room be different? A “green” room is made of eco-friendly materials, no-plastic objects and it is full of calming and responsible “only buy once” items. Surround yourself with zero-waste basic commodities and you won’t even have to stress with their disposal. As much as you focus on reusable products, you will save money, energy and avoid economical distress.

Do it today: have a look at your room. What plastic products do you notice around you? Maybe you see the packaging from food orders. Straws or single use cutlery. What about other products that might be reused, like masks, pads or make up removers?

  • Adopt a houseplant

Say, what? Well, yes. Trees, grass and basically green plants can improve your mood, reduce the effects of stress and enhance overall well-being. We can no longer spend much time in parks and natural settings but we still can have our own little home garden. Constantly being around plants might make you feel more calm and relaxed and studies show that they can even improve memory and attention span.

Start with small steps: adorn a small corner of your room with leafy plants or succulents that are less demanding. At some point, you will even notice a correlation between your plants and your own self-care. A busy and stressed working activity might leave you without enough free time and it will reflect on yours and your plants’ well-being.

For you to start living a greener life choose first the easy, doable and down to earth changes in your habits. Write to do lists for letting your brain relax in your leisure time and surround yourself with the materials you would also like to see when spending time in nature. You can obviously change your impact on the planet without radically changing your lifestyle and I can assure you, living in harmony with nature will also help you live in harmony with yourself.

With love,

Miruna from estiverde.ro

About our guest

Miruna is a former ESNer, former local and national president with a constant involvement in promoting training and education for Erasmus students and ESNers. Estiverde.ro is an online plastic-free shop she co-founded with Ioana, also former local president of ESN Unibucharest. They met and grew together in ESN Romania, building a friendship that lasts until today.