As the days get shorter and darker it’s worthwhile to take some time to think about the connections between creation care and self care. If you’re anything like me, the increasing disaster and climate change-related news often fills my mind with worry. As someone who works day in and day out on environmental issues it has been important for me to develop practices of self-care and spirit-care that sustain me for the long haul. I have also discovered that some of these practices are not only good for me, but they’re good for the planet.
Here are five self-care practices that are also creation care:
Diana Butler Bass, author of Grateful writes, “in difficult times, gratitude can…make us stronger and more able to face personal challenges and work on behalf of the common good.” She goes on to describe how gratitude isn’t just a feeling, but also something that we do. Gratitude arises when we cultivate an awareness of the gifts that are around us every day and make it a habit to be thankful for them. Acting gratefully can promote wellbeing for us, for others around us and for the whole creation.
Take a walk in the woods
Scientists have recently been discovering what people have known instinctively for centuries: trees make us happier. The Japanese practice of shinrin-yoku, or forest bathing, is the practice of taking in the forest atmosphere. Studies show that spending time in nature increases relaxation and decreases pulse, depression, fatigue, anxiety and confusion. Spending time in nature also helps us get to know the places we live in. We all live in particular places, and experiencing and learning them can help us learn to love and care for them.
Bike to work/school
Besides being another way to spend time getting to know your place, cycle commuting is an excellent way to get exercise – which is good for your physical and mental health. Daily exercise has been shown to increase happiness and reduce stress. Cycling is also an emissions-saving mode of transportation. According to the Prairie Climate Centre, the transportation sector accounts for 28 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Canada. Cycling can be one way to reduce your greenhouse gas emissions and contribute to a healthier planet.
Take time away from social media to connect with others and God
It’s becoming increasingly known that social media can increase feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety. While social media can be a valuable communication tool, it is also beneficial to our well-being to step away from our screens to connect face to face with people in our lives, and spend uninterrupted time connecting with God. Cultivating the inner practices of prayer can help us have resiliency in the face of overwhelming suffering. Prayer can ground us in the hope of a God that is redeeming and restoring creation rather than the reactionary social media news cycle, a necessary skill when caring for creation.
Eat good food
Did you know that your digestive system not only helps you digest food, but also helps guide your emotions? Harvard Health Publishing reports that a well-fed brain—one that gets the proper nutrients and vitamins—is a happy brain. One great way to ensure that you get the proper nutrients is to eat lots of fruits and vegetables. You can grow your own, participate in a community shared agriculture project, or purchase these fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market. These are great ways to care for creation and support your local farmers.
Zoe Matties is the program manager at A Rocha Manitoba, based in the Centre for Resilience at Canadian Mennonite University in Winnipeg. This article originally appeared at arocha.ca.