Normally, when we construct wellness plans for ourselves we focus on two components:
These two lifestyle habits are almost always at the top of our list.
While eating healthy foods and keeping active is vital to our physical wellness, it's important to consider all 8 dimensions of wellness, including environmental wellness.
It's challenging to reach our potential if we're stuck in an inhibitive environment. After all, it's difficult for a plant to thrive in a dark environment.
Both our physical and emotional health is in part tied to our environment, and it's up to each of us to live in harmony with our surroundings. Often our environments become normalized, and we fail to ask pertinent questions.
Before you accept your current environment, ask yourself a few questions:
Negative and positive feelings can be viral, spreading quickly through social groups and relationships. When you surround yourself with negative people, your emotional wellness suffers.
Whom we associate with is never 100% within our control. At times have little control over our coworkers, student groups, friends of friends, supervisors, family, or neighbors. That said, we can take proactive steps to attract, nurture and keep positive relationships in our life.
Search for relationships that promote positive energy and support a healthy environment. Get involved with community groups with activities that matter to you. Meeting like-minded people is the first step towards cultivating a peer group that supports you, thus gradually improving your environmental wellness.
Environmental wellness usually starts at home. Feeling comfortable is an essential quality in your life. Even a subtle sensation of discomfort in your environment can cause unneeded stress and anxiety.
In studies, people living in cluttered homes are shown to have higher levels of cortisol, the stress hormone¹. It's not a coincidence; people feel more at home when their environment is free from clutter.
Of course, going too far in the other direction can negatively affect your emotional wellness. Just do your best to incorporate daily habits that help improve the organization in your home or office. For most people, there is a comfort zone where things are free from clutter but still look "lived in."
Find your perfect level of cleanliness and try to maintain it. If your home seems overwhelmingly cluttered, try creating a cleaning program using these three tips -
Don't try to do too much at once. Sometimes when you first get started cleaning, you'll feel hugely motivated and may be tempted to start multiple cleaning tasks at once. This kind of overextension can easily lead to burnout, and soon you'll find your home more cluttered than before.
To keep yourself motivated, try focusing on simple decluttering or cleaning tasks that have a recognizable endpoint. Stepping back to see that you've completed clearing the table or reorganizing a drawer can keep you motivated to get through your whole home.
Like most people, you may have too much stuff. Reorganizing only gets you so far if there's not enough room for everything. The stress caused by surrounding yourself with clutter is much greater than the temporary discomfort of letting some objects go.
We've all heard that joke about humans being emotionally unstable houseplants, and there's a bit of truth in that. Our bodies need sunlight for the vitamins and the health benefits it has on our brains. Too much time in the dark can leave us with feelings of depression, including fatigue, weight gain, and sadness².
Get outside when you can for natural sunlight. The seasonal affective disorder affects many people, but the symptoms can creep up even in the summertime if you spend too much time indoors and away from the sun.
There are more forms of pollution than just smog. Noise pollution is a real problem in the modern world. Many of us live surrounded continuously by vehicle noises and blaring electronics. It can be so all-consuming that many of us have grown accustomed to it. However, giving your ears and your mind some quiet time can be invaluable in fashioning your healthy, happy environment.
You likely don't have much control over where you live or work, but you can do a few things to improve your environmental wellness by replacing noise pollution with either silence or more positive sounds.
The simplest thing to do is turn off your television and silence your phone ringer. Many people leave electronics on for "background noise," but a raucous TV show or loud radio can subtly irritate your mind and lower your mood. Give yourself some time each day where everything is turned off, especially right before bed.
If total silence makes you uncomfortable or can still hear distant distracting noises from outside, consider populating your home or office with more natural sounds. A babbling brook or the wind shuffling through leaves calms most people down. You can play these sounds through your laptop or cell phone, or you can go one step further and buy a small fountain for your desk or counter.
Environmental wellness encompasses two things: our immediate surroundings and our planet as a whole. You can help better your community environment by making green decisions and volunteering.
Small tasks like picking up litter or planting trees can not only improve the world around you; they can lift your mood. If you value caring for the planet, then knowing you're living your life in the most sustainable ways possible can significantly impact not only the environment but also your emotional wellness.
We want many things in life: new TV, fancier furniture, or maybe a complete kitchen remodel.
Consider your happiness when making your next purchase. Think about what you're going to use that new item for. Buying a new grill, for example, may lead to more parties and get-togethers at your home, or maybe that new streaming subscription will be used for family movie nights.
The important thing is to pause, step back and think about what you're bringing into your personal environment and what you're going to get back from it.
We're only as happy and healthy as our living environment. Take a moment to step back and think about your surroundings and whether you can get more out of them. True wellness comes to those who take charge of each aspect of their lives.
(1) Saxbe, D. E; Repetti, R (January 2010) No place like home: home tours correlate with daily patterns of mood and cortisol
(2) Conti, L. (August 2008) How Light Deprivation Causes Depression
Written by BioNeurix Editorial Team
Originally published 7/5/2019
Last updated 4/14/2021