Welcome back to Wellness Wednesday! If you missed the first post in this series, you can find it here. Last week we talked about the Wellness Wheel and how it represents the different dimensions of wellness, and how wellness is so much more than just our physical and mental health.
This week, I thought I’d start with the environmental dimension, because for me right now, that aspect is…. let’s just say less-than-stellar. I’ll get to that in a little bit, but first, let’s look at what the environmental dimension of our wellness is all about. Basically, environmental wellness takes a kind of three-pronged approach: first, according to UC Davis, “Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings…..Environmental well-being promotes interaction with nature and your personal environment.”
Let’s look at this first approach as the “big picture” view. Taking care of our environment helps ensure that the earth is a healthy place for us, our children, and our children’s children. Things that we can do involve the 3 R’s we’re all so familiar with (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle), buying products that are made from sustainable resources, reducing toxins in the environment, and working to conserve our natural resources.
The next approach is directly related to the safety of our environment. The National Institutes of Health outlines several aspects of environmental wellness like making our homes healthier, reducing allergies, staying safe during hot weather, guarding against cold weather, air quality, testing our homes for toxic gases, and staying safe in the water. They actually have an Environmental Wellness Checklist that you can download that lists different actions you can take to keep your environment safe for you and your family.
Last but certainly not least, let’s take another look at the definition from the SAMHSA Wellness Wheel: “good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.”
So now it’s confession time….. you know I mentioned that I was doing “less-than-stellar” in this dimension earlier? Well, they say a picture is worth a thousand words:
Do you see anything pleasant or stimulating in that picture??? I’m ashamed to show you guys that I’m such a slob, but I figure sometimes it’s better to show impact rather than try to describe it… My desk has looked like this for a couple of weeks now, and often I walk into my office thinking I’ll get some things done, take one look at that desk — “nope, not gonna happen today” and I turn around and walk out. Think about this though – at some point, this mess could affect other dimensions of my wellness. What if a bill got buried under all that mess and didn’t get paid…there goes my financial dimension. What if it stresses me out to the point that it impacts my emotional dimension? Obviously, the fix is for me to get this desk cleaned off so I can function optimally in that part of my environment. That’s my number 1 priority this week, so I can remove that “flat spot” from my wellness wheel.
For those of us who live with some sort of chronic illness, because we spend so much of our time at home, making our home pleasant and stimulating (or in our case, perhaps less stimulating for those of us with noise, light, or chemical sensitivities) can have a huge impact on our overall wellness.
So how do we do that? Here are a couple of things that may help:
- Surround yourself with things you love (and get rid of the things you don’t).
- Keep clutter to a minimum.
- Use less-toxic cleaning products and ditch those chemical-laden air fresheners.
- Strategically place comfort items so that they’re within easy reach when you need them (i.e. a wicker basket near the sofa that holds blankets and your heating pad keeps things neat but makes them easily available).
- Break cleaning down into individual tasks so that you can just do one or two a day instead of trying to do everything at once.
- Remember that home is your sanctuary and design your surroundings to make sure it feels like that to you.
What things do you do to support your environmental dimension? Please share!