Opinion

Care for the Earth as it cares for you

Recently, I had a bit of a breakdown. It was your classic college “am I going to pass such and such class?” and “what do I even want to do with my life?” and “what if I end up jobless and alone and miserable? – I should probably just start planning my train hopping route now” routine. I went to the gym, I had a cup of coffee, I read a book, but still the weight sat resolute on my chest.

As I walked by that one towering banyan tree by the school of architecture, I had an overwhelming need to climb it. I thought of all the time I spent as a child, climbing trees in the woods behind my house and that rush of desire to keep going up that always came with it. I took off my shoes, dropped my backpack, ditched my phone and felt the weight on my chest lift as I pulled myself higher.

The positive correlation between exposure to fresh air and mental health has been proven through extensive research. More importantly, though, it’s something we can all attest to if we stop to think about it. From the smallest benefits of fresh air, such as when we feel nauseous or faint and step outside to breathe, to the larger scale benefits, like being a kid and feeling endlessly energized throughout a summer spent playing outside, a vast majority of people could probably vouch for the calmness that overcomes us when we step outside.

Similarly, we can expect to feel a rush of oxytocin, which triggers the happy hormones serotonin and dopamine, when we do something to help others. When we combine those two feelings – being in the environment and giving to others – we experience a wonderful combination of satisfaction, inner peace and appreciation for the world around us, all of which contribute to positive mental health.

I am able to experience that small rush of purpose by making an effort to clean up around me as I walk from class to class. If I see recyclable containers in the wrong basket, for instance, I put them in the recycling bin. Similarly, if I see a piece of balloon on the ground that a small animal could choke on, or the connected plastic rings from a six-pack of soda that could strangle a sea creature, I properly dispose of the balloon or rip the plastic rings apart before throwing them away.

It’s a small effort and admittedly not life-changing, but that tiny release of satisfaction by going out of my way to help the life around me makes me feel that much better. These acts are not saving the world, but they take about 30 seconds and could potentially save the life of a bird or a turtle or a dolphin. Given our campus’ proximity to the ocean, it’s not unrealistic to think picking up one piece of plastic could actually save a sea creature.

Knowing that makes me feel as though I’m contributing something good to the world. It makes me feel connected to something greater and forces me, if only briefly, out of my preoccupied bubble of ego to look around and take care of our home.

Sophia Constantino is a freshman majoring in journalism and ecosystem science & policy.

Feature photo is a file photo of The Miami Hurricane.

April 18, 2018

Reporters

Sophia Constantino


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Atlantic Coast Conference Baseball Championship schedule is set. The No. 4 seed Miami Hurricanes ...

The first regular season of Gino DiMare’s head-coaching era ended Saturday at Mark Light Field. But ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ hopes for hosting an NCAA regional were damaged a bit on Friday night by a 12- ...

It took a long time for Dewan Hernandez to reach a point of acceptance for what happened to his juni ...

The life of a fullback isn’t always glamorous, even 15 years ago before the position was essentially ...

The University of Miami is shaping the future of education by using innovative approaches that drive ...

Six short films created by University of Miami film students will be screened in Los Angeles this we ...

Researchers from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries, hosted by the Institute for the Advanced ...

Two University of Miami a cappella groups, Tufaan and BisCaydence, celebrated big wins in different ...

After Alabama’s governor signed into law the most-stringent anti-abortion bill in the nation, UM exp ...

The Canes are the top team in Pool D, joined by No. 5 North Carolina and No. 9 Virginia. ...

The matchups are set for the NCAA Singles Championship and NCAA Doubles Championship at the USTA Nat ...

Chris McMahon struck out six over five shutout innings to earn his first win since April 6. ...

Miami's Second Varsity Four earned a bronze medal at the 2019 ACC Rowing Championships Saturday ...

Estela Perez-Somarriba of the Miami women's tennis team is the ITA Southeast Region Arthur Ashe ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.