Can Green Living Really Make You Happier? Your Environment Could Be Key To Mental and Physical Health

Happier. Credit: Matt Madd, want to feel healthier, happier and more productive at work. Maybe you’ve tried exercising before you start the day or eating a balanced and healthy lunch. However, the secret to achieving mental and physical health, as well as increased productivity, may lie in the buildings you work and live in, as well as how you care for the environment.

What Is Green Living?

Green living means anything from using natural light, improving air quality inside and shopping with reusable bags instead of plastic ones. For example, eating more organic products as opposed to meat and processed food counts as green living. Even changing your home to more efficient lightbulbs is a step toward a more sustainable life.

There’s a huge impact when you make these choices and go green. Here are five reasons green living makes you happier, healthier and more productive in your daily life.

  1. It Improves Your Physical Health

Do you have allergies that never seem to quit or asthma that gets worse when you’re home at night? Going green can help. The National Center for Healthy Housing (NCHH) decided to do two case studies looking at how residents felt before and after their housing units went green. These residents had physical improvements right after the renovation, such as less trouble with chronic bronchitis, hay fever, asthma and more.

  1. It Boosts Your Mood

The impact isn’t just physical. Spending time in nature helps with stress relief and mental illness. Even factors such as sustainable public transportation and green homes can increase happiness. In one study, people in the Netherlands who thought their local green spaces were more accessible and usable felt greater satisfaction with the whole neighborhood.

Going green also helps you become more social. If you start to carpool to work with friends, you can form a community aspect that you don’t get from driving by yourself. You can also choose to visit green spaces with others, such as a group hike or trip to the park. Then everyone gets the benefits of going outside as well as interacting with other people.

  1. It Increases Your Productivity

When the afternoon slump hits, it’s hard to feel like you’re accomplishing anything at work. It turns out that the sustainability of your office building plays a significant role in how productive you are.

Buildings with better ventilation systems generally have fresher and cleaner air. An office with more windows and natural light can also help contribute to a green environment. A study by the Rocky Mountain Institute found that employees were 16 percent more productive when their businesses adopted green initiatives.

  1. It Gives Your Life Meaning

This goes hand in hand with feeling happier. When you start to live a green life, you’ll feel a sense of purpose and meaning that you might have felt was missing before. One study that analyzed 39 green behaviors found that the majority of them increased individuals’ life satisfaction.

It’s not hard, either. You can decide to walk to work instead of driving. You can visit a local farmers market to buy your fruits and vegetables instead of the grocery store. Planting trees or turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth are just some of the simple things you can do to start experiencing the benefits of living green.

  1. It Gives You More Financial Security

If you’re feeling stressed about money, turning to green initiatives is one way to relieve stress and reduce your bills. Instead of worrying about how you’ll cover your monthly utility costs, try to become more energy- and water-efficient. By switching to energy-efficient appliances or windows, you can see your utility bills and your stress level drop.

Now Is the Time to Go Green

Living a green life starts with you. Make little changes, such as turning off the lights when you’re not in a room and reducing your plastic consumption. Then you can even suggest changes to your work or living space. Your mental and physical health, as well as your productivity and happiness, will soar.

Emily Folk is the editor of Conservation Folks. She writes on topics of sustainability, conservation and green technology.