Updated: May 21
Each day we are on the grind so to speak. Trying to get things done and accomplished at work, at home, at school. When we discuss dimensions of wellness, we can easily see how eating healthily, exercising, getting proper sleep all increase our overall wellness and wellbeing. One element we don't often think of, yet is equally important in our stress management journey, is our environmental wellness. Our environment directly impacts our state of mind, our emotional well-being, and even our productivity.
If you live in the rural like me, it is so easy to take for granted the clean air we breathe, the trees that create air and shade from the beaming sun on a hot day, or the beautiful green grass beneath my feet. Having this is all I have ever known. Those who live in the city may be able to enjoy nature in local parks. However, if we fail to uphold our responsibility in caring for our communities and our planet by keeping it clean and preserving resources, it can be so easy for us all to lose this natural beauty. There of course, is more to environmental wellness than just the great outdoors. In this article, we will define environmental wellness and identify 7 activities or minor lifestyle changes we can engage in that can help us improve in this wellness dimension.
When defining environmental wellness, the National Institute of Health identifies it as, "what surrounds you each day in your home, work, or neighborhood and the resources available to you," that can affect your health. This therefore includes our homes, or community, our planet.
Whether it is small electronics, batteries, printer cartridges, clothing, shoes, paper, plastics, or aluminum, recycling helps protect resources from depletion and help avoid overfilling of landfills.
If you are not using something turn it off. Doing this will help preserve resources and cut costs on an electric bill. When you're leaving a room or leaving home, turn off the lights, TV, radio. When you're not currently charging your cellphone, unplug the charger's adapter.
Admittedly, it may cost a little more upfront to purchase a reusable shopping bag; however, you really will benefit the environment by using them. Plastic bags are not easy to recycle and therefore end up at landfills. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), "the plastic may last in the environment for tens to potentially hundreds of years, depending on the type of plastic and its disposal environment." If plastic bags end up in the ocean, they can lead to the death marine animals when they mistake them for food. Paper bags on the other hand, are made from trees which means forests are depleted to create this paper product.
Checking the labels of most household cleaners can reveal a whole host of ingredients that we most often cannot even pronounce. Researching these ingredients may yield that they have a lot of toxic chemicals. Switching to natural or homemade cleaning products can be better for us and our pets in the long run. Washing our bedding once a week with eco-friendly detergent and vacuuming once per week also does well to keep our homes clean and fresh and reduces pollutants and toxins.
Eliminating junk mail not only reduces clutter in our living spaces, it can also help the environment by cutting back on depletion of trees for paper products and pollution of air due to transportation to get the mail into our mailboxes. We can either contact companies to be removed from mailing lists or opt for electronic mail (e-mail) instead.
Clutter and stress closely follow. In the Psychology Today article: "Why Mess Causes Stress: 8 Reasons, 8 Remedies," clutter is found to overstimulate our brain into thinking that work is never done thus increasing our difficulty with settling down and relaxing. Their tip for both work and home, "If you don't use it, don't want it, or don't need it, get rid of it. You can toss it, recycle it, or donate it."
Get Out in Nature
Go for a walk or biking whenever practical can reduce pollution of vehicles and increase our physical health and wellbeing because we are being active. While out, you can help your community by picking up litter and/or recycling which will benefit both your community and the planet.
Even though this is one of the shorter of articles I have written on wellness, environmental wellness is still just as important and there are so many different directions this topic could flow. One of the main takeaways here is that environmental wellness takes some of the focus off the self by forcing us to see ourselves as a part of this larger global community. It reinforces balance, a balance of what we want and need with that of our fellow humans and earth creatures. We all have the responsibility to leave behind a healthier planet for the coming generations.
Challenge to you: Tell us in the comments below 2 ways you can contribute to environmental wellness and then commit to doing your chosen activity every week for the month of April.
Please remember as you begin this journey, do not worry about getting it perfect; just get it going. Until next time. Happy reading.
"One touch of nature makes the whole world kin." ~William Shakespeare
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