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"When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment in which it grows, not the flower." ~ Alexander Den Heijer

What is Environmental Wellness?

According to SAMHSA, environmental wellness is good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.

Why is Environmental Wellness Important?

Our environment encompasses the conditions of our personal space (our home or workplace) and the public space (nature).

Satisfying our basic needs, clean drinking water, clean air, and safe living conditions (housing, community), and exposure to nature can improve our health and extend our lifespans. However, environmental hazards, such as pollution, poor sanitation, and poverty, increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, depression, and many other illnesses. (Hastings Center)

People may not always know they are struggling with their environment, and it's often something we may not be able to change quickly. Such as the inability to afford appropriate housing, lacking common necessities, or living and working in an area that combats crime and violence.

What Can We Do to Improve Our Environment?

We can do little things every day to improve and protect the environment. Such as recycling, conserving energy, growing awareness and respect for the earth's natural resources.  Creating habits that reflect an awareness and respect for the environment can lead to a greater sense of self-fulfillment.

What about our personal environment? We need a place that we can feel safe and secure—seeking psychological comforts that include a combination of familiarity and stimulus. This may require us to remove the clutter. When our surroundings are neat and organized, we can experience reduced stress and a greater sense of calm. Did you know that our brains thrive when we're organized? Studies have shown that clutter can trigger the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) and lead to several adverse reactions. Reduced concentration and productivity. Increased anxiety and depression. Irregular sleep habits.

So, organizing our personal space and respecting nature can have a positive effect on our health and well-being.

The Benefits of Going Outside

Taking a moment to get outside can result in a slew of health benefits. It can help us clear our minds and relax by reducing cortisol levels (a stress hormone). Vitamin D (from the sunshine) also helps boost our immune system to fight off cancer and cardiovascular disease. Research has shown that getting outside can increase our ability to concentrate, make critical decisions, and tap into our creativity. Of course, these benefits increase when accompanied by exercise.

But don't get turned off by the "exercise" word. There are lots of things that we can do outside that are fun and free.

  • Go for a hike or a bike ride on a local trail

  • Take a walk with a friend down the street

  • Take the kayak out to explore a new lake

  • Play catch with the dog 

  • Have a picnic at the beach    

Nature is meant to be enjoyed, but we also need to respect it. We need to clean up after ourselves, always trying to leave the space better than we found it. Also, be mindful of the plants and wildlife. Even the smallest of creatures and the prettiest flowers have a purpose in the ecosystem. Take pictures to remember the occasion. They're free and do no harm.

The Environment and Our Mortality

If we continue to pollute the world and exhaust nature's valuable resources without concern for the long-term effects, we may end up in a world that we don't recognize with a reduced quality of life. Pollutants can cause potential health concerns and have adverse effects on wildlife and the environment.

For instance, water pollutants can lead to headaches and gastrointestinal issues. We often think of wastewater or agricultural chemicals seeping into our water supply, but what about the microplastics from that plastic water bottle that pollute our oceans?   Air pollutants have been linked to cardiovascular illness and cancer. According to the NPS, one of the primary sources of air pollution is transportation - cars, buses, planes, etc.

But we can change this. Walk instead of driving everywhere. Use a refillable water bottle. Use natural lighting (open the windows). Expanding our respect for the environment and reducing pollutants has been linked to improved mortality (i.e., we live longer!).

Environmental wellness encourages individuals to establish fond respect for nature and our surrounding environments.  It involves understanding the effects that we have on the environment and that we are responsible for reducing pollutants to improve the quality of the air, water, and earth. By making responsible decisions, that respect the environment, we can extend the life of the planet and the quality and longevity of our own lives.

Questions to Guide Your Environmental Wellness:

 Do you spend time outdoors enjoying nature?

  1. Do you reduce, reuse, and recycle products whenever possible?

  2. Are you concerned about impacts on your local, national, and world climates?

  3. Do you have a space to call your own?

  4. Do you feel content in your environment (home, work, etc.)?

  5. Do you organize your work and home space regularly to remove clutter?

  6. Is your living space filled with things that make you happy?

  7. Do you shop locally?

If you start exploring environmental wellness and find yourself struggling with fear or a sense of security (within your environment) please follow the link to talk more about how I can support you on this journey. WovenGrace Wellness.

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