The Nature of Wellbeing: The Link Between Sustainable Living and Mental Health

Mental health is becoming more and more of a pressing issue in the United States. Case in point, CNN reports that 46 million Americans experience some form of mental illness annually. This is made even worse by the fact that mental illness carries over into other aspects of people’s lives. Psychologists at Maryville University highlight how poor mental health can affect your ability to function overall, including how you perform both at home and at work. And considering that only 41% of the reported cases of mental illness get treatment, this problem can only get worse over time.

So what can be done to address this problem? Well, studies have found that living a sustainable lifestyle bestows positive effects on one’s mental health. This, at the very least, merits further examination. Read on to know more about the link between sustainable living and mental health!

How the State of Nature Affects Mental Health

The main idea behind sustainability is preserving the earth and all of its

wonders. And while the utilitarian reasons for preserving the Earth are quite obvious, the state of the world can also affect you on a personal level. The physical effects of air pollution are pretty well documented. Aside from lung disease, studies conducted by specialists from Washington University have also associated air pollution with kidney disease — adding to the growing list of ailments associated with dirty air.

Furthermore, new findings have discovered that air pollution also contributes to depression. Research conducted by the University College London has found that air pollution could be causing substantial harm to mental health resulting in millions of new cases of depression. This further incentivizes living sustainably as it is becoming more evident that pollution is a problem that affects individuals all over the world on a more personal level.

Eating Habits and Mental Health

What you put in your bodies has a direct effect on how it functions both mentally and physically. Nutritional psychiatry focuses on the effect of one’s diet on mental health, and researchers have found that the more processed a diet is the more those who consume it are at risk of depression and anxiety. So how does this relate to the environment and sustainability?

Well, point to studies that outline how the amount of processing a food item goes through is correlated to its overall impact on the environment. Even animal products also exact a heavy toll on the planet, which means a sustainable diet is one with less meat and dairy in it. There is a balance, however. For instance, something like the Mediterranean diet is not only sustainable, but has been linked to reducing the effects and symptoms of depression. The diet consists of mostly fruits, vegetables, and grains, with meats and sweets eaten less often. So why not give this a try for a healthier and greener world?

 The Effect of Household Chemicals

The Atlantic details that many household products contain chemicals that threaten our brains, causing behavioral and cognitive problems for those that use them. Couple this with the fact that these products are also pretty bad for the environment and you’ve got yet another reason to live more sustainably.

Luckily, it’s now easier to make your household items more eco-friendly due to the countless innovations present in the world today. As we’ve already tackled in our article on 4 Tips On a More Sustainable Everyday Life, you can make your household more eco-friendly by using the multitude of smart products out on the market. Another thing you can do is make your own cleaning products. This not only is better for your health but is also less wasteful than buying products that are bad for you and the environment.

Contributed by Katy Pierce

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