Winter’s jam-packed with holiday parties, quality time, gift-giving and delicious food. However, the constant running around and pile-up of wrapping paper and tinsel can be enough to send us over the edge.
After weeks of excitement, you may want to curl up, unwind and live your best minimalist life. Here are 10 eco-friendly ways to relax this winter.
1. Brew Organic Tea
Brew a hot cup of organic tea to warm you up on the chilliest days. Tea contains large amounts of polyphenols with antioxidant properties that control dangerous free radicals in the body.
Studies have shown that drinking two to three cups of tea daily reduces your risk of premature mortality, Type 2 diabetes, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
Organic teas are sustainably sourced and often come loose or in compostable satchels.
2. Light Sustainable Candles
Lighting candles is a cozy winter pastime — but did you know that most candles emit noxious combustion gases like carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, benzene and particulate matter?
Nontoxic candle alternatives include beeswax, soy wax or coconut wax. However, be mindful when buying eco-friendly candles. Companies greenwash them as “soy-based” or something similar, even if there’s only a tiny trace of soy.
3. Add Natural Decor
If your decor feels outdated or your style has changed, why not declutter and add some natural elements?
Indoor plants can boost your mood and create a spa-like atmosphere in your bathroom. Consider adding a small plant on the vanity, in the corner or inside the shower.
Adding bamboo bathroom accessories and light shades is another eco-friendly way to feel more relaxed. Bamboo is a sustainable material that replenishes itself quickly, making it more eco-friendly than wood.
4. Make Eco-Friendly Products
Why not use homemade eco-friendly soaps for those winter evening soaks in the tub? Most manufacturers sell soaps in plastic bottles, which end up in landfills or the environment.
Creating soaps at home is simple and will help you pass the time on a snowy day.
Cut your natural soap base — aloe vera, cocoa butter, shea butter or olive oil — into chunks and melt them in the microwave in 30-second increments. Mix in 25-30 drops of essential oils and pour the mixture into a mold, allowing it to cure for a few weeks before using.
5. Start A New Hobby
Watercoloring with eco-friendly paints is an excellent way to relieve stress and anxiety.
If you’re battling the winter blues, painting or drawing spring flowers and summer landscapes can help transport your mind to warmer months.
Otherwise, taking online classes, journaling or crafting with scraps are other eco-friendly hobbies you might take on.
6. Go For A Walk Outside
Although it might sound crazy to go outside when snow’s on the ground, studies show that just 120 minutes in nature can improve your mental health and overall well-being.
Bundle up, put your shoes on and go for a walk — even in the winter. You’ll reap the rewards of natural vitamin D on a sunny day.
Vitamin D deficiencies are common during colder months, with studies showing low levels leading to more cases of mood disorders, anxiety and depression.
7. Practice Yoga Or Meditation
Most people know that yoga and meditation are healthy relaxation activities, so why not start a winter practice?
Yoga doesn’t require anything but your body, meaning you’ve found an excellent way to relax without creating waste. You can also center your practice around eco-friendly intentions to help you cultivate greener living.
8. Do Something Nice
Research suggests that seven days of kindness toward others can boost happiness. When you’re happier, you’ll likely have less stress.
Help a neighbor shovel snow or cook a hearty plant-based stew for an older family member. You can also get a head start on spring cleaning by donating gently used items to a shelter.
9. Get Cozy
Curl up with a warm blanket, a hot beverage and a good book this winter. Layering your body with sweatpants and sweaters lets you lower your indoor temperature to an energy-efficient setting.
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) recommends programming the thermostat back 7-10 degrees Fahrenheit for eight hours during the day. About 68 F is an ideal daytime setting in the winter, and you can lower it at night or when you’re away from the house.
Sometimes, the best way to relax in the winter is by unplugging your devices. Put away the phone, laptop and tablet, dim your lamps and settle in.
Your friends and family can reach you in a while when you log back into your social media and turn your phone on again.
Relax Sustainably This Winter
You can prioritize the planet and your mental health simultaneously with these eco-friendly relaxation techniques this winter.
Jane is an environmental writer and the founder and editor-in-chief of Environment.co where she covers sustainability and eco-friendly living.