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What Is Environmental Wellness?

What do you think of when you hear the words Environmental Wellness? Do your thoughts immediately go to recycling, reducing emissions, and keeping our water clean? Those things are certainly part of Environmental Wellness, but there’s actually more to it than that.

Let’s take a look at what the environmental dimension of our wellness is all about.

What is Environmental Wellness?

Basically, environmental wellness takes a kind of three-pronged approach: first, according to UC Davis, (1) “Environmental wellness inspires us to live a lifestyle that is respectful of our surroundings. This realm encourages us to live in harmony with the Earth by taking action to protect it. 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 allergens, 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 (2) 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 a look at the definition from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, SAMHSA (3) : “good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being.”

Making our home pleasant and stimulating (or 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:

Ways to Make Our Homes a More Pleasant Environment

  • 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. This helps you keep your space clean without wearing yourself out trying to keep it tidy.
  • Remember that your home is your sanctuary and design your surroundings to make sure it feels like that to you.

Making Our Environment Support Our Well-Being

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the last part of our definition of Environmental Wellness – making sure our environment supports our well-being.

Of course, some of the things listed above do that, but there are some other things we can do as well.

One of those things is to make it easy and convenient to cook healthy meals. We do ourselves a huge favor if we set up our pantry with healthy options and make them easy to see. On the flip side, getting rid of those foods that don’t support our wellness efforts can have a huge impact as well.

Another thing that can help support our wellness efforts is to make it easy to exercise at home. I don’t know about you, but I’ve had more than one piece of exercise equipment that ended up hardly ever being used because it was in an inconvenient place. Now I have a basket in my family room that holds all of my yoga equipment, and I keep all my exercise videos in my TV cabinet for easy access. Seeing my workout stuff sitting there reminds me that I need to exercise.

Whatever we use to work out, making it easily available can help make sure our environment supports our wellbeing.

Whether we’re talking about taking care of our environment, keeping our home or work areas safe, or coming up with systems to make our environment support our wellbeing, Environmental Wellness is vital to our overall wellness.

What things do you do to support the environmental dimension of wellness? Please share!

Blessings,

~Terri

Sources:

(1) https://shcs.ucdavis.edu/wellness/what-is-wellness

(2) https://www.nih.gov/sites/default/files/health-info/wellness-toolkits/environmental-wellness-checklist.pdf

(3) https://www.samhsa.gov

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6 comments

  1. Thank you for this blog with the details of Environmental wellness in 2020. Very informative!! Made me pause, reflect and evaluate my life. My grandparents believed in the 3 R’s, because their generation had lived thru the Great Depression. Then we became the children of the beginning of fast food era – need it quick. Plus so many durable goods and technology manufacturers use planned obsolescence to keep the consumers buying the next best thing. There is hope as we each make good choices to make our environmental space in our homes healthy and positively contributing to our wellness. I see the younger generation, including my daughters always looking for ways to make the environment better and sharing what they know with me.

    1. Thanks so much for sharing Sarah! You bring up a great point of the manufacturers using planned obsolescence. We used to be able to expect our large appliances to last 10 years or more. Now we’re lucky if they last that long…. It IS encouraging that the younger generation is more eco-conscious and actively look for ways to contribute to keeping our earth healthy.

  2. I really like this wider, more holistic and all-encompassing view of environmental wellness. I think our environments day to day can impact us in ways beyond what we may initially realise, and our relationship with the wider environment can be very meaningful. Taking care of it (recycling for instance) makes us feel good and makes us feel more useful and connected, and spending time in nature can be so grounding. That two-way relationship with caring for our environment and the environment caring for us can be an important one to nourish. Fantastic post, definitely plenty to think about in terms of improving our environmental wellbeing.xx

    1. Thank you so much Caz! I love what you said about the ” two-way relationship with caring for our environment and the environment caring for us” and agree that it “can be an important one to nourish.” As you said, our environment can affect us in ways we don’t even realize. Sending love and hugs your way!

  3. I really love the way you’ve looked at the big picture of environmental wellness. It’s true, everything you’ve said. To only focus on one aspect and ignore the others would do us all a great injustice.

    Your tip about breaking down cleaning tasks into smaller chunks is fantastic. Especially during those times in life where we’ve gotten behind due to hectic schedules or poor health, it can feel so overwhelming! Yet, if we take it one day at a time, one small goal at a time – before you know, it’s done! And like you say, we didn’t kill ourselves doing it. Not much is worse than overdoing it entirely and winding up in a terrible flair, with unbearable pain and exhaustion.

    I also adore your idea of keeping those ‘cozy comfort’ pieces nearby, neatly tucked away. Just the thought of this brings me so much joy! I’m smiling now, because it’s true. I’m a big sucker for fluffy and extra soft blankets. Something about them just makes a tough day so much better. Curling up on the couch, great book in hand under one of those blankets…ahhh, instant stress relief. Do you have a favorite comfort?

    You are such a brilliant writer, Terri! I love your take on topics. I’ve shared across social media so others can come enjoy as well. 🙂 Sending ALL of my love to you, dear friend. Your blog is an inspiration and a joy to read each and every time! ♥

    1. Thank you so much dear Holly! You are far too kind! I’m glad you like the idea of having your comfort items close by. I have a big square basket next to my loveseat that has a couple of afghans, my favorite lap blanket, my heating pad, and my bead-filled neck pillow (that I can heat in the microwave) in it. I also keep a smaller basket with my Bible, some craft pens and paper, and my current read in it close by. That doesn’t do a great job of encouraging me to get up and move around more, but it sure is convenient for those high-pain days. Thank you for sharing on your social media – you’re the best! Sending love and hugs your way!

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