Written by contributor Stephanie Langford of Keeper of the Home.
Do you ever get tired of it all?
Have you read an article on nutrition or being green, and found that your eyes began to glaze over as you thought, blah, blah, blah? Does the garbage sometimes seem like a more convenient option than the compost? Do you just want to break down and buy toothpaste that doesn’t cost $5 a tube?
Natural living fatigue. It happens.
My journey to more green, wholesome, healthy living began almost eight years ago. During those years, my motivation and commitment levels have remained generally positive, but there have been times when I felt tired of it all and struggled with wanting to take the “easier” road for a season.
As with any major lifestyle change, it is absolutely normal to have ups and downs, easy times and hard ones. Many of us begin with a bang, energetically pursuing our goals and full of inspiration. Yet, there are often points of frustration, disillusionment, weariness and burn out. Why does it happen? What are the reasons that we slow down, tune out, and pull back from natural living at various points along the journey?
Things to Avoid
As I’ve pondered the question of “why” this natural living fatigue happens in my life and those I talk to, I see five things that we would do well to avoid so that our healthy changes become life-long, and not just another trend wagon that we hop on for a brief time before we tumble off the other side.
Photo by Smath
1. Avoid extremism
When we first begin to realize the importance of living greener, and also the dangers of many conventional ways of doing things, it’s easy to want to go a bit overboard. But, just as with any other changes we want to make (beginning to exercise, losing weight, less tv), when we try to jump in too quickly and change everything all at once, we often become discouraged and give up altogether.
Another element of extremism is viewing natural living in black and white, right and wrong, good and bad. There are many “shades” of green living, and people have legitimate reasons for approaching things in different ways.
One family may be keen on purchasing on organics (even if they’re shipped across the country) while another puts a higher priority on seasonal and local, regardless of the organic label. Which one is more “right?” Well, it depends on what your priorities are!
Changes don’t need to be extreme to be valuable. It is a valid thing to begin cloth diapering only half of the time, because it’s certainly better than nothing. To do our best to use cloth bags at the grocery store, except those few times when we just forget and bring home a little plastic. To eat whole foods 80% of the time, but allow room for slowly-adjusting taste buds and enjoying meals with friends and family who don’t eat the same way.
Photo by mikebaird
2. Avoid information overload
When I began blogging about natural living four years ago, there simply was not the abundance of information out there that there is today. I read a few good books from the library, picked up the odd alternative health magazine, and found a handful of websites with possibly unreliable information.
These days, I think that we need to close our eyes and stick our fingers in our ears in order to take a break from the information overload coming our way… Don’t use plastic. Eat organic. Shop local. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Plant a garden. Find a farmer’s market. Filter your water. Avoid toxic beauty care. Go green, go green, go green.
It can be helpful to take a break from it all. Choose a few areas that you want to focus on in your own life, and then purposefully avoid reading or listening to (even helpful) blogs, articles, tv shows, books. When you feel ready to make some more slow and steady changes, tune back in.
3. Avoid too much, too soon
Just as we can become extreme, we can also simply be too darn eager. Most of us aren’t capable of making 180 degree changes all at once and then maintaining them.
As with any good thing that we want to add to our lifestyle, focusing on one or two items at a time is crucial. Set some achievable goals, take small steps towards them, and celebrate when you reach them. When those goals are met, consider what else may be important to you and put your effort towards those.
Photo by The Busy Brain
4. Avoid comparisons
Does it ever seem as if bloggers or others who are living naturally have it all together compared to you? Do you feel like you’re behind and somehow failing because you aren’t sprouting your own grains or making your own laundry detergent?
Don’t. The guilt is both unnecessary and unproductive.
It’s so important to remember that we are all in different seasons of life, unique circumstances, facing our own personal obstacles, and at our own stage in the journey. We aren’t worse than (or better than) anyone else, and the status of our bathroom counter or our kitchen pantry does not define our value as a person.
Be encouraged by the steps that you have already taken and the goals that you have achieved, however large or small. Each step is a victory, and each one is important in your own journey. Try to focus on where you have already made positive changes, rather than on what you haven’t done.
5. Avoid perfectionism
There will always be ways that I could be healthier and greener, and much as I may want to, I simply won’t be able to make all of those changes. No one can do it all and live the “perfect green life” because I’m pretty sure it doesn’t exist (and if it does, I don’t think I want to know about it).
Letting go of perfectionism in natural living is one of the things that has most freed me to continue to do what I do, without guilt, without obligation, and with a whole lot less stress.
If we each do our individual best to make positive changes, then we are a part of the solution and we contribute to a better lifestyle for our family. Isn’t that the goal, after all?
Have you ever felt burnt out or weary of natural living? Where do you think those feelings stem from and how do you try to avoid getting to that place?