Photo by Curtis Mac Newton

8 Ways to Increase Sustainability in Your Personal Life

Orginally Written by Brian Swope, MFT for

When we hear the word “sustainability” we think “green” “renewable energy” “recycling” or any other of a long list of words, but the object is clear – it is about the environment and human interaction with it.

The concept of sustainability can be applied to the human body – physical and mental health – as well. Overwhelmed is common feeling these days – and that is true for people who aren’t reporting any mental health issues, though it can certainly lead to something more serious when it is maintained and exacerbated for longer than we can handle.

Our work emails find us at all hours of the day, and anywhere – even on vacation. Texting messaging leads to always on (mis)communication. Media bombards us with messages of what more we can or should do or be or look like. Caffeine, energy drinks and sugar provide us the energy we seek to keep going further, harder, longer. To what end? While the economy is getting better, decent paying jobs are hard to get, all while bills keep coming in.

Moments of potential solitude are broken by endless scrolling through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram feeds … Envy, anger, longing, jealousy mixed in with happiness and lighter moments.

There is plenty outside of our immediate control, but that shouldn’t mean we don’t take control over what we have in our grasp. In a fast paced world, the idea of slowing down seems counterintuitive, but a well-tended body and mind can do more and more efficiently.

Feeling overwhelmed is as much about external overload as it is about internally and feeling we’ve lost touch with ourselves.

And while yoga and meditation offer us a chance to slow down and release ourselves for those moments from everything that is going on around us, there are other ways to make this happen.

1. Follow your breath throughout the day – slow it down by breathing deeper and longer when you aren’t exercising.

2. Find a time during your work day or after to put your phone away and enjoy a 15 minute walk. Just experience, the weather in the neighborhood where you live or work.

3. Cut back on multi-tasking and devote yourself more fully to the individual tasks at hand.

4. Leave your desk for lunch, and don’t rush your time away from it.

5. Eat healthier. A craving for fast food or sweets is bound to happen, but don’t cave in every time.

6. Do a vigorous, but not draining exercise routine.

7. Make time to spend with friends and family who are nurturing and don’t leave you feeling anxious or negative

8. Develop a bedtime routine – a bath, a book to read, whatever makes you feel calmer.

If you find yourself going through cycles of extremes – overworking, overwhelmed and feeling spent, followed by isolation, exhaustion and withdrawal, then turning your focus to yourself and self care can help to even out the extremes.

Earlier, I posed the question, “to what end?”, and that’s a good question to consider. To what end are you allowing yourself to feel overwhelmed and to what end could a re-energized self do for you?


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