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3 Mental Health Hacks for Eco-Friendly Contractors

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There are many reasons more building professionals are creating eco-friendly contracting businesses these days. The market for sustainable businesses is booming. Consumers and businesses are projected to spend over $653 billion on sustainable contracting services by 2028.

However, there are some challenges that you will face as an eco-friendly contractor. This career is definitely stressful. People have very strict deadlines when they are trying to get their green buildings constructed. The demand for eco-friendly contractors is also higher than ever, as more people try to relocate and make up for lack of opportunities to build during the pandemic.

As a green contractor, you will have to find ways to keep yourself from getting burnt out. This involves taking steps to minimize your stress.

Green Contractors Must Take these Steps to Reduce Stress and Improve Mental Health

As discussions about eco-consciousness and sustainability become more mainstream, people are growing more mindful of how their choices and actions impact their surroundings. This is one of the reasons that sustainable contractors are able to grow their businesses. Many of the lifestyle changes people are implementing to reduce their carbon footprint and protect the planet also have positive benefits for mental health.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put a spotlight on the growing mental health crisis in America. According to the American Psychological Association, anxiety and depression rates skyrocketed between 2020 and 2021. Failing to care for one’s mental wellbeing also makes individuals more prone to exhibiting toxic traits, injuring relationships with loved ones.

Prioritizing our mental health is more important than ever. Implementing the following eco-friendly habits have the added benefit of improving mental wellbeing. Eco-friendly contractors that follow these tips will have an easier time keeping their mental health from deteriorating.

Take a Cold Shower

Water heaters are one of the most energy-consuming appliances in the house. Over a year, the average water heater pumps out nearly 3 tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, almost as much as the average car! This is almost half of the entire carbon footprint of the average home, which means that homes that require heat pumps for warm showers have much higher carbon footprints than average. Likewise, a regular 10-minute shower can use about 20 gallons of water. Multiply that by several household members, and the average family is using almost a hundred gallons of water per day.

Switching to a daily cold shower can reduce energy and water consumption, which is excellent for the environment. This is a great energy saving measure. Not only that, but shorter, colder showers have been tied to several mental health benefits.

Cold water triggers the fight-or-flight response, which causes the body to send more blood to the brain. This reaction enhances mental acuity and concentration. It also acclimates the body to stress in a healthy way.

Studies have also noted that exposure to cold water can also counteract symptoms of depression. As nerves react to the low temperatures, they send a flurry of messages to the brain. This influx of neural signals can “shock” the brain out of a depressive pattern.

Create a Sustainable Garden

Gardening can be a lovely, nature-based pastime, but it can be hazardous to the environment if not planned properly. Many people try to imitate gardens found in very different climates. As a result, they remove local plants in favor of foreign varieties that require too much water or heating to keep alive.

Removing indigenous plants also affects the ecosystem. Local birds and insects cannot feed on foreign plants and can die out as a result. This weakens the food web and makes it considerably harder for other mammals to live in the area.

Common gardening techniques like adding fertilizer or using weed removal introduce harmful chemicals into the ground. Eventually, these pollutants get washed away by rainwater and absorbed into local water systems.

Sustainable gardening eliminates all of these issues by prioritizing indigenous plants. As these varieties are suited for the environment, they won’t require much more water than what naturally occurs through rainfall. Other sustainable practices like composting, soil aeration, and plant rotation reduce reliance on chemicals. Adding a sustainable garden can make your home more valuable too.

Gardening has a proven positive effect on our mood. When we dig our hands in the dirt, we pick up microbes. These harmless organisms enter our bodies through the air and our skin. Once inside, they stimulate serotonin production, a neurotransmitter associated with feelings of happiness. Some studies have found that soil microbes are as effective as prescription anti-depressants.

Eat Local Produce

Ever notice how the supermarket always seems to have tropical fruits in stock, even in the dead of winter? Keeping those mangoes and watermelons in stock requires a lot of carbon-producing processes, including transportation over land and sea, storing, and freezing. This doesn’t even consider the impact of over-farming, which has led to deforestation, erosion, and soil depletion. 

Replacing exotic varieties with local, in-season produce is better for the environment in two ways. Locally grown food travels a much shorter distance from the farm to the grocer. This cuts down on the number of greenhouse gases produced during the transportation process.

Additionally, buying from small farmers supports their business and contributes to the community’s biodiversity. This benefits wildlife and prevents the soil from losing essential nutrients.

People who make a conscious decision to buy more local products will increase the amount of fresh fruits and vegetables in their shopping cart. Eating a plant-based diet keeps blood sugar stable and prevents the mood swings that can come from eating high-sugar and high-fat foods. 

Locally-grown foods also tend to be more nutrient dense, as fewer vitamins are lost during the handling process. This means that local produce has higher micronutrients that support brain health, such as vitamin D, magnesium, and folate.

Eco-Friendly Contractors Must Prioritize Their Mental Health

There are a lot of things that you have to think about as an eco-friendly contractor. You probably are thinking a lot about things like the raw materials that you need. However, you must also prioritize your mental health. The tips listed above are very important.

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