Anxiety, Mindfulness, Zero Waste Living

Sustainable self-care: 7 ways to fill up your cup in an eco-friendly way

This post is sponsored by Seed Probiotics. All writings and opinions are my own. #accountable



You may think this is just another self-care post telling you to take more bubble baths and eat more chocolate. But let me tell you, I almost titled it: 

Sustainable self-care: why it needs to be more than bubble baths

Or:

Zero Waste self-care: how to sustainably care for yourself and still be eco-friendly

So there. 

Self-care to me goes way beyond the traditional, consumeristic tactics that we’re told we need to buy in order to make ourselves feel better. And this is especially true if you’re putting in the work as an eco-activist, social justice warrior, and fighting against racism. 

But what I think is most important here, is the play on the word ‘sustainable’. As someone interested in low waste living, I’m guessing you want to find tips that are eco-friendly. But sustainable also means long-term, or long-lasting. And your self-care routine needs to be that too. 

Burnout is a real issue in our society in general, but especially if you’re involved with any of the above. And it is important that we fill up our own cup so that we can continue to help these bigger issues. 

Before I dive into my tips on how to incorporate sustainable self-care into your daily routine, let me quickly talk about the different types of self-care out there. 

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What are the eight areas of self-care?

Did you know there are eight areas of self-care? I didn’t. I’m also guessing there is more. But here they are:

*Physical

*Psychological 

*Emotional

*Social

*Professional

*Environmental

*Spiritual

*Financial

Most of these are pretty self-explanatory, but let’s quickly look at environmental self-care.



What is environmental self-care?

Since this is an environmental blog, I wanted to broach this topic really quick. Upon first glance, you may be wondering what exactly environmental self-care is. Is it picking up trash? Is it caring for the environment?

In actuality, it is caring for your environment – and I love that this can mean many different things. It can mean your home, your body, your neighborhood and neighbors, etc. In a way, it is kind of how I approach sustainability. Sustainability is so all-encompassing, and I feel that way about the term ‘environmental self-care’. 

So, whether you want to call it zero waste self-care, environmental self-care, or sustainable self-care, I think the important piece is realizing it should (in my opinion) encompass every aspect of our lives. 



Why is self-care so hard?

Ok, so reading what I just wrote up there may feel you leaving a little overwhelmed. You may be thinking: 

“I can’t even manage regular self-care, how am I supposed to now incorporate sustainable self-care into EIGHT different areas of my life?”

I get it. And it won’t happen overnight. 

But that doesn’t necessarily answer why self-care is so hard, and I think the main answer is that our society doesn’t make money if we, as consumers and constituents, prioritize rest. This is especially true as women, who are generally taught from a young age to put other people’s needs before our own. We may also feel ashamed that we are resting or taking care of ourselves, instead of being “productive”. 

And finally, time. We often jam pack our schedules so tight that we simply don’t have time to spend on things that will make us feel good. And when we do make time, if something comes up, we often push our “me” time to the back burner. 

I want to challenge you to look at self-care differently. 

What if instead of looking at self-care as something you need to add to your to-do list, what if you made it part of your sustainable living routine? What if, you could incorporate it with those same values, and look at it knowing you’re not only doing good for the planet, but also yourself. And that just like the planet deserves care, YOU do too. 

I’m sharing seven different sustainable self-care tips that closely align with the eight types of self-care I talked about above. The only one I don’t touch on is financial, because I’m not anywhere near a financial guru (although I am working on a post about sustainable and ethical banking, so stay tuned.)


Without further ado, here are….



Seven ways to incorporate sustainable self-care:




Take care of your physical health

Our physical body does so much for us each and every day, and often we neglect it in our self-care routine. When you think of physical body care, you may of course think of movement, eating nourishing foods, etc. But there is more to it than that. It’s setting ourselves up for success, as much as we can. 

One way I’ve tried to do so is through probiotics. 

Enter Seed.

I’ve tried a lot of probiotics over the course of my life, ever since I learned about the many benefits of gut health, for not only physical health but also for mental health (and let’s not forget that as birth moms we pass our microbiome on to our babies.)



However, I found that some of the probiotics I would take were hit or miss as to whether I felt like they were doing anything.  And if they didn’t, I would feel like I was wasting my money. 

I first heard about Seed through my friend Jessie of Tiny Yellow Bungalow, who was raving about them on Instagram. I was immediately drawn to the fact that the probiotics came not only in a glass jar, but also that the jar was refillable. AND, that the packaging was 100% biodegradable. Not only that, but they have a core value around education, transparency, and that everything is connected – something I believe as well. 

Here are some other benefits:

*The probiotics contain four strains to help not only with digestion, but also with gut immune health, skin health, and cardiovascular health – aka – whole body health

*The probiotic is designed to travel through your intestines to your colon, versus stopping in your stomach or intestine 

*The capsules themselves come in a glass jar, and the contents and refill packs come in all compostable packaging

*Refill packs – keep your glass jar, and keep refilling it each month

*The company is super transparent and thorough about anything you may be curious about. For example, they completely break down their nutrition label

*Human trials: yep – most probiotic companies don’t do research on their product using human beings. Seed does. 

*The capsules are vegan and gluten free

*Seed meets FDA standards, but goes above and beyond to follow European and Japanese industry/health standards

*Seed is all about education (check out probiotics 101 and microbiome 101). Seriously, in order to partner with them, I had to take lessons and take a final exam! 

*Probiotics to save the bees? Seed is working on it.

Please note that Seed is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. 


Here is my review:

TMI alert….I sometimes get digestion issues due to anxiety (bloating, constipation, diarrhea, higher sensitivity to food, etc) when I’m having a flare up. It is super uncomfortable and awful. If you’ve experienced something similar, or even other pleasant (not) side effects of something, you know it can be hard to focus on anything else (like, I don’t know, the climate crisis.)

I’ve been taking Seed for over a month now, and I can say that I’ve noticed an improvement in my bloating and poor digestion symptoms – which is nothing but a win for me. 

The capsules are easy to swallow – something I sometimes have trouble with because of dealing with tight chest muscles due to anxiety (I feel like medicine gets stuck and then panic about it. Fun times. Luckily, not with Seed.)






Combine that with the glass/refillable jar, commitment to sustainability, value of education and connectedness, and transparency, I’ve become a big fan and would recommend them to anyone looking to try a more sustainable probiotic for their own physical health.

The only thing I would like to see from Seed is carbon neutral shipping. I understand there is a lot of greenwashing in this area, but since they are an incredibly thorough and transparent company, I can imagine they would find an organization to partner with that is the real deal. 

Bonus! Get 15% off your first month supply of Seed using code ‘ReduceRenew’ at checkout. 

TLDR: Check out my review of Seed, a fantastic whole-health probiotic. While we usually think of physical health as nutrition, sleep, and moving your body (all important), we tend to forget about other components that are important as well. 



Take care of your mental health

Why do we often look at our mental health as an afterthought? Or only start to address it when we’re deep in an anxiety spiral (just one example)?

I’m guilty of this too, but here’s the thing:

As I mentioned under ‘physical health’, when you’re dealing with symptoms related to an injury or illness, the likelihood that you’re going to be able to give a lot of time and energy to important matters is slim. And our mental health is no different. 

How you take care of your mental health differs from me and anyone else reading this, but here are some general suggestions that I use:

*Mindfulness

*Get out in nature, or look at photos of nature

*Talk with a friend or loved one

*If climate emotions have you feeling down, check out a group like Good Grief Network

*Therapy (if you can)

*Learn about your mental illness and potential triggers 

*Do a meditative activity

*Meditate (I use Insight Timer which is a free app)

*Practice self compassion 

*Take a social media break

*Give back/get involved (research shows this can give us a major mental boost)

The great thing about many of the tactics you see above are that they can naturally be sustainable – in the eco-friendly way. 

Related post: Anxiety: 25 Things to do When You Have a Fear of the Unknown + a Free Printable!


Declutter and clean

Decluttering may not seem like an obvious choice when we’re talking about sustainable self-care, BUT, it can be. 

First, the act of decluttering itself can be freeing – opening up space, freeing up items back into the waste stream for others to use, and providing a sense of control can all be beneficial. 

Second, getting rid of stuff is a great way to free up time and energy for other things. Research shows that the less items we own, the less cleaning, spending time looking for stuff, and emotional energy we spend. Trust me, your future self will thank you. 

While cleaning may not seem like a form of sustainable self-care either, the same thing applies as decluttering! 

Plus, taking care of items in the form of cleaning to prolong the life of an item is sustainable in itself. 

Related post: The eco-friendly magic of tidying up (or how to responsibly get rid of almost anything)



Get outside

Another one backed by research…getting outside. Spending time in nature provides a ton of benefits to help refill our cup – reduced stress and anxiety, increased levels of serotonin, clears our minds, and provides an overall sense of calm. Ultimate self-care stuff. Plus, from a sustainability point of view, getting outside can help reconnect us to our ‘why’, as in, why we do the work we do in this movement. 

The great thing is that getting outside can be a number of different things. Looking out your window, going for a walk, gardening, sitting on a deck, etc. 

Related post: What is plogging and how it can help the earth and your anxiety




{Insert favorite hobby}

Do you ever notice when you’re doing your favorite hobby, that you find yourself lost in thought? And that time just flies by? I call this ‘meditating without actually meditating’, and as it sounds, provides some of the same benefits of traditional meditation. 

For me, photography, puzzles, and gardening all provide this effect. For some people, it may be sewing, crafting, baking/cooking, or building legos. 

The act of doing something you love is surprisingly quick at filling up your cup (in my experience), yet, as a society, we don’t really value doing what we love. And our schedules (especially pre-COVID) don’t allow time for us to engage in such activities. 

To add in the sustainability aspect, consider looking for supplies secondhand (for a lot of things a local Buy Nothing Group or thrift store can usually provide good results.) 




Connect with someone

We are social creatures (even as the introvert is saying…really?!), biologically evolved to live and thrive in communities. We had to, otherwise we had a higher chance of getting killed. And even the introvert in me knows that sometimes we just need to talk to someone, am I right?


Of course with the pandemic, this has become more challenging – but not any less important or necessary. Call, Zoom, send a letter, or do a socially distanced outside walk or bonfire and connect with someone. 


Bonus: find a community who can be supportive around sustainable issues if you feel those weigh heavy on you a lot of the time. Talking through these issues, and understanding that there are others out there who care as much as you do is invaluable.


Related post: The Secret to Making Time for Self Care



Journal

Journaling is one of my personal go-to activities for filling up my cup. I tend to ruminate and focus on thoughts in a way that is not productive. Sometimes, the best way for me to get out those thoughts is by writing them down. Bonus: the act of actually writing is slower than the speed of our thoughts, automatically causing them to slow down. 

Additionally, writing down our thoughts can be a great way to get perspective, fact check, or simply just do a brain dump. 

To make this a more sustainable self-care option, opt for a journal made with recycled paper, cut up kids artwork that they used to draw one line and ‘messed up’ and had to start over, old notebooks, etc. And when you’re done? If you aren’t attached to what you’ve written (I personally never look back at my brain dumps), you can use the paper for fire starters, making new paper, or by simply recycling. 




Practice mindfulness

I alluded to the importance of mindfulness back in the mental health section, but it is important enough to have it’s own section as well. 

The power of mindfulness is well researched, and can include things like decrease in stress, anxiety, and overwhelm. The best part is it is free, doesn’t require ‘stuff’, and can be done at any time. Plus, mindfulness and meditation has very similar benefits in terms of mental health, so you can be proactive about your self-care while also helping you if you’re feeling stressed or anxious. 

Bonus: you can combine mindfulness and getting outside for an ultimate form of self-care. I love doing grounding exercises when I’m outside, because I find it to be easier to get out of my head in order to stay with them. 

My favorite is the following:

Name five things you can see

Name four things you can hear

Name three things you can feel

Name two things you can smell

Name one thing you can taste

If you aren’t able to get outside, you can achieve the same thing by looking at a nature photo and imagining the things you would see, hear, feel, smell, and taste. 

Giving yourself the space to be in the present moment is an amazing form of self-care, and since it doesn’t involve much, is a great sustainable self-care option. 

Related post: 14 ways to practice mindfulness during times of uncertainty



Self-care doesn’t have to mean giving up your desire to live sustainably, or compromise on those values. You can incorporate those things with filling your cup with just a little extra thought. 

And don’t forget that self-care is more than just bubble baths and face masks, although those things can feel great and be stress relieving. It’s also about being proactive. 

Speaking of being proactive… doing these things sets your future self up for success, and also provides space for you to keep going in a movement that can sometimes feel heavy and defeating. All super important things.

You got this!

What is one of your favorite sustainable self-care tips?



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Tonya | the Writer Mom
2 months ago

Love this, it’s so thorough! These are great non-bubble-bath ways to practice self care. I’d never heard of Seed, but I really need to start taking a probiotic, and it’s good to know that a sustainable option exists.

Heather Ritchie
2 months ago

I never really considered that there were 8 different self-care areas! That’s really interesting and I totally agree that women are the worst at self-care. I feel like if I take the time to take care of myself that I’m being selfish. But really, to care for others we need to take care of ourselves.

Jericka
2 months ago

I love this- so thorough! Just going outside is my go-to, so happy to see it on the list! Also going to check out Seed, so thank you!

Sarah
2 months ago

This is such a fantastic list. We need to look past the material for self care and see care of our planet as part of our own healing 😀

Adriana
2 months ago

I love that you include de-cluttering as a self care activity! I actually find a lot of peace and relaxation in the act of de-cluttering and achieving more space in my home 🙂

Jo Robinson
2 months ago

These are really great ideas! People think that self care is just running a bubble bath but it’s so much more than that.