Turn over a new LEaF challenge

After the success of last year’s challenge, we are excited to launch this year’s Turn Over a New LEaF challenge. Last year’s challenge centred around sustainability but this year we are taking it in a new direction and focussing on mental and physical wellbeing. With the beginning of a new academic year on the horizon, we feel that it is the perfect time to make some positive changes.

At LEaF, not only are we interested in advocating for our environment but also looking after
ourselves and each other. That’s why with our Turn Over a New LEaF challenges this year
we will be sharing ideas of how to care for yourself and protect your mental and physical
wellbeing. Over on our Instagram you will find ideas of ways that you can improve someone
else’s day even if it is simply through a smile or compliment as well as suggestions for
looking after yourself and the planet. After all, working towards a happier and healthier
environment is just as much a priority as striving for a happier and healthier humanity.

Week 1

For you:

  • Relaxing outside – Make sure you can spend some time relaxing outside, even though the miserable weather recently certainly leaves something to be desired, the benefits of some fresh air can’t be understated. Take some time to clear your head away from any distractions.
  • Clean or organise your space – It’s all too easy to let your space become cluttered and unclean over time, however the mess in your space tends to invade your mental wellbeing and result in unnecessary stress. Often it will seem a bigger task than in reality but once the initial hurdle has been overcome, the benefits are massive.
  • Read some good news today – It can often seem nowadays that the news is all negative and disheartening which is why looking at some good news of the day can be a great reminder that there are incredible things happening on our planet too. Sites like Positive News can help apply a more positive outlook on life when it’s getting you down.

For another:

  • Set out to make someone laugh or smile today – You can never know the state of everyone’s mental wellbeing but a smile or joke is something that everyone can appreciate. Even this small act could make someone’s day and ensure that they experience at least a moment of happiness.
  • Support a local business with a positive review – With the current state of the economy and the national cost of living crisis, it’s important to help out others where we can. A kind review costs nothing but can buy a hard-working peer perhaps some more stability or even pride in knowing that their efforts are appreciated.
  • Write someone a letter and post it – In the age of social media, a hand-written letter is almost unheard of. I can safely say that in my 17 years I have never received one. This makes this act of kindness feel much more personal and lets the recipient know that they’re viewed as being worth more than a text, of which hundreds are sent
    everyday.

For all of us:

  • Organise a community clean-up – It is very easy to walk past litter everyday and note it with a disapproving thought but then step over it. Of course our busy schedules mean we can’t pick up every piece we see. Therefore, through organising a clean-up and committing a period of time to the cause, we can protect our community spaces. Websites such as CleanUpUK give more information about how you can get involved in your local community.
  • Participate in a run or walk for charity – This is a great way to stay active whilst also giving back to the charities that are working hard to advocate for many important causes.
  • Cycle, walk or use public transport to commute – These methods of transportation reduce your carbon footprint and reduce pollution, leading to a cleaner environment. An added bonus is the opportunity to reduce fuel costs on your commute.

Week 2

For you:

  • Spend a few hours away from your screen – Finding a time to unstick your eyes from any screens will help with maintaining a sleep schedule and has been shown to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety- especially amongst children and teens.
  • Listen to music that makes you happy – If you’re feeling stressed or anxious or down, give your brain a break and feed it with music that motivates or inspires you. Music may work to protect your mental health and act as a dose of audio dopamine when you’re in need of it.
  • Remind yourself to be proud of what you’ve done today – Whether you completed a difficult task at school or work or managed to face one of your fears, remember to praise yourself for it. Maybe you feel lost or depressed but managed to get out of bed today or brush your teeth. Even small acts like that mean you should be proud as it signifies a step in the right direction.

For another:

  • Speak to someone and let them know they’re appreciated – If a stranger lets you in front of them in the queue or a friend pays for coffee this time or even if someone does nothing for you specifically, a kind word can change their day entirely.
  • Help someone with their to-do list – Sometimes life can become overwhelming and make us feel that day to day difficulties are insurmountable hurdles. If you can cross even one item off someone’s list, no matter how small, you can single handedly give someone that relief and give them back a little more confidence to tackle life’s challenges.
  • Recommend music or a film that you think they would like – This may seem a very mundane, insignificant suggestion however what this does is lets someone know that you’re thinking of them and that they mean enough to you for the conversation to even occur. For some, it may mean more that you could fathom.

For all of us:

  • Try and conserve water – Take shorter showers, only use the washing machine when you have a full load to put in or turn off the tap while you clean your teeth. Efforts like this that are made little and often build up and mean that you can rest easy knowing you aren’t wasting our planet’s resources. For more ways you can save water, check out these top ten tips by the World Wildlife Fund.
  • Reduce the amount of single-use plastics that you buy – It is difficult to avoid single-use plastics since they seem to be everywhere you look, however committing to making swaps to refillable water bottles, reusable coffee cups, wax wraps and other sustainable options makes all the difference.
  • Avoid shopping from fast fashion brands – Obviously, the prices that these companies advertise are attractive to consumers, especially in times of financial difficulties, however the unethical business practices have a huge impact on our environment and their workers. Try shopping second hand or at least resisting the temptation to over consume that these brands utilise.

Week 3

For you:

  • Research a topic that interests you – Learning about something that you are interested in and that is outside your area of expertise could give your brain the workout it needs to break up the monotony of daily life. In this case, the more random and outlandish, the better.
  • Cross one thing off your to-do list – A long list of tasks and responsibilities can be daunting and keep us from actually focusing on the tasks rather than the difficulty they pose. Commit to getting rid of one item today and tomorrow the rest will seem easier. Perhaps start with the one that scares you the most.
  • Pick up a new hobby – Doing the same thing every single day without any variation may mean that you get stuck in a rut. Whether it be knitting or flower arranging or blacksmithing, you might just find exactly what has been missing from your life but you’ll never know until you try.

For another:

  • Give someone a thoughtful compliment – Even if you are too busy to stop and talk, complimenting someone on something they may not expect anyone to have noticed shows that real thought has gone into it. For example, you like the way they matched their tie to their socks or you think that their hairstyle suits them. Get creative!
  • Check up on a friend or family member – Your visit or phone call or text may be that one thing that reminds them they are cared for. Now more than ever, it is so important to lend an ear to someone in case they are struggling and in need of help but are unlikely to ask for it.
  • Cook or bake something for a loved one – If you aren’t much of a talker about these things (like me) you can say what you need to with a home cooked meal or a treat. You might find that conversation flows easier over a piece of cake or that breaking bread in the literal sense is more your style than a phone call.

For all of us:

  • Shop for produce locally – Reduce your food miles by shopping locally and also supporting local businesses. Enjoy a smaller carbon footprint as well as quality food that you can trust.
  • DIY or upcycle something not in use before throwing it away – To avoid waste and overconsumption, why not try your hand at upcycling your old clothes or furniture? Many alterations are simple enough to do yourself or with just an extra pair of hands.
  • Commit to eating less meat or even growing your own food – Adopting a vegetarian diet is a great way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. If this isn’t maintainable or accessible for you, even committing to a meat-free diet for a few days a week is still beneficial for the environment. You could even start a vegetable garden and go the extra mile in growing your own food. Gardeners’ World have a great blog post for beginners on how to grow your own vegetables.

Let us know how you get on

We always love hearing from you so be sure to keep an eye on our Instagram pages for updates and ways that you can get involved. Sharing your experience is always a great way to motivate others!

About the Author

This blog post was written by Molly Playford who joined team LEaF in July 2023 for some work experience. Molly is currently studying for her A-Levels in Spanish, Fine Art and English Literature and, is interested in drawing and painting, travelling and of course, languages! We thoroughly enjoyed having Molly working with us and were very impressed with her passion for languages and her creativity. We wish her all the best for her future!