Does living a planet-strong life actually make you happier?

Here at 1 Million Women, we've been thinking a lot about this link ever since we launched a series on happiness . Now there's even more proof, thanks to the results of a recent survey commissioned by Tetra Pak of 2,000 residents across the United States and Canada.

The researchers concluded, "adopting a few simple, renewable lifestyle habits that help protect the earth's natural resources can help people go from feeling glum to good, with 70 percent of those surveyed claiming they felt happier when making eco-minded choices."

Here are some other findings on happiness that point to a planet-strong lifestyle as a good way to go about finding it!

Consumerism isn't the answer

If we do feel enjoyment from buying a new pair of jeans or a chocolate bar, how long does the happiness we feel from this action last? If the answer is "until I get home from the shops", then perhaps it's time to take a new approach to how we navigate our hyper-consumerist society.

Read more: What an afternoon with a monk can teach you about happiness

Getting outdoors is good for your brain

Harvard Medical School has found multiple mental health benefits of going outside and soaking up the sunshine.

Firstly, there's the benefits of Vitamin D: "Sunlight hitting the skin begins the circuitous process — the liver and kidneys get involved — that eventually leads to the creation of the biologically active form of the vitamin. Over all, research is showing that many vitamins, while necessary, don't have such great disease-fighting powers, but vitamin D may prove to be the exception."

They also note that "light tends to elevate people's mood", so getting outdoors whenever you can tends to help you to feel more cheerful and optimistic.

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Planet Ark has also weighed in on the issue with its own research, pointing to the link between children playing outside and adulthood happiness: "Children who engage in just one third more outdoor activities than their peers grow up to be happier adults."

Eating well = feeling well

It's not surprising to hear that the food that we eat can impact out mood. From a sustainability perspective, choosing a plant-based diet is the planet-friendly option, but did you know that there have also been studies done into the links between cutting down on meat consumption and improved mood?

In one study, researchers found that meat-eaters who switched to a plant-based diet saw improvements to their mood. One conclusion is that omnivorous (meat and plant-eating) diets are high in arachidonic acid (AA) compared to vegetarian diets, and high intakes of AA promote changes in brain that can disturb mood.

From a first hand perspective, switching to a plant-based diet has certainly made me more aware of what I'm eating, and I tend to spend more time growing, buying and cooking my own food. I also tend to eat less processed food and more fresh produce, which in turn helps me to feel positive about myself because I know I'm giving my body nutritious fuel.

What helps you to feel happy? Do you think that switching to a sustainable lifestyle has improved your mood? Let us know in the comments below!

Images: Shutterstock

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