Amy Eksteen

Wellness Series Part 4

As we slowly work through each wellness dimension every week, I hope my readers are learning more about how to incorporate a wellness based lifestyle into their every day lives. I hope that by exploring our wellness, my readers realise the importance of their overall health and well-being. So here’s to learning more about the true power behind self-care and the act of building our self-awareness.

In the previous blog post, we explored the concept of Social Wellness.This week we get to move on to part 4 of our wellness series, which will focus on our Environmental Wellness.

Environmental wellness helps us to live in a way that is respectful towards our environment and all living creatures that live on our planet – urging us to protect and raise awareness about the Earth, global warming, environmental health and sustainability. (UCDavis).

After all, one of the aspects of environmental wellness is about being environmentally conscious and acknowledging that the Earth has limited resources (HealthySteps).

Our environmental well-being is important because if we don’t take care of our natural surroundings, anything that lives on our planet cannot thrive, including humans. We therefore have to prioritise and choose options, habits and behaviours that are sustainable and environmentally friendly (Raupers, 2018).

Environmental health is about acknowledging that we have a responsibility to look after our home on Earth and that we have the power to influence and be influenced by our surroundings. Prioritising our environmental health helps us to work towards preserving and protecting the planet – making it a clean and safe place, while we also protect ourselves from environmental hazards such as air, noise and water pollution, ultraviolet radiation from the sun, harmful chemicals in the products that we use as well as from things like second-hand smoke (Raupers, 2018).

Our environmental well-being ultimately promotes an interaction between our natural environment and our personal surroundings (UCDavis).

Environmental wellness teaches us the need for and benefits of a healthy personal environment – this includes surrounding ourselves with people and things that we experience as positive and inspiring. It also includes caring for our personal belongings and maintaining comfortable working and living environments (International Students and Wellness).

Environmental wellness involves the interactions we have between our community, environment and ourselves. It not only includes our natural environment as our environmental health is also dependent on our social environment. With that being said, it is therefore important for us to create environments that support our well-being and that lead to feelings of happiness and safety. This is especially true when it comes to the type of people we allow to surround/influence us as well as the type of behaviours that we are exposed to. It is important to create and nurture positive social environments that prioritise all of our wellness dimensions, therefore prioritising our overall health, wellness and safety at the same time (Princeton University).

When our personal surroundings are taken care of, we experience a greater sense of peace as we experience less stress, concern and anxiety. Looking after our environmental well-being enhances our personal health as well as it helps to ensure the future health of our communities and world as a whole (International Students and Wellness).

Signs of Environmental Wellness:

  • Knowing the limits of the earth’s natural resources and respecting that in all that you do
  • Being aware of the impact your choices and behaviours have on the environment
  • Conserving energy (for example, switching off lights)
  • Recycling as much as possible at home, school and at work
  • Appreciating time outside in nature
  • Spending time with supportive and like-minded people
  • Working with your community towards environmental improvements/sustainability
  • Reducing pollution on the ground, in the air and in the water
  • Creating home and work environments that support, care and positively influence the surrounding environment and species that live within it
  • Being aware of risks/dangers that can occur in various settings
  • Prioritising your safety (University of New Hampshire: Health and wellness).

Having a healthy and clean environment also affects our overall physical and mental health, therefore impacting and affecting our other wellness dimensions (Raupers, 2018).

We need to look after our environmental health because it affects and improves our personal wellness. A person that looks after their environmental wellness allows themselves to spend time in the sun and in nature, which boosts vitamin D production in their bodies, improves mental and cardiovascular health as well as it helps them to integrate/socialise with like-minded people who are likely to also support the environment and prioritise their environmental well-being. Practicing environmentally friendly behaviours and habits can allow us to educate others and/or our children about the importance of our decisions and actions on the environment and how much power and responsibility lies within our hands. This then allows us to lead a sustainable lifestyle that will positively affect future generations (Yoisalai, 2014).

30 ways to prioritise Environmental Wellness:

  1. Switch off lights, televisions/electronic devices if they aren’t being used (for example, try and cut down on time spent watching tv, series and on social media)
  2. Recycle as much as you can
  3. Start a fresh vegetable garden/grow your own produce
  4. Support free range/cruelty free products
  5. Partake in “Meatless Monday’s” – this is where you can choose to not eat meat on a Monday in any of your meals as this is healthy for the environment and your health. This can also help you to save money
  6. Pick up plastic on the beach/litter whenever you see it as well as encourage others to do the same
  7. Protect yourself from the sun (for example, use sunscreen, wear sunglasses, wear protective clothing, choose to do activities when the sun isn’t harsh and drink water)
  8. Start a carpool/lift club for work/school
  9. Switch off dripping taps
  10. Choose to take a short shower instead of a bath
  11. Plant a tree, refrain from cutting down trees and limit use of paper
  12. Support “catch and release” guidelines and limitations
  13. Buy and use sustainable, natural products that are cruelty free and environmentally friendly
  14. Limit plastic use (for example, use reusable cups, shopping bags and straws)
  15. Join an environmental movement/organisation
  16. Support adoption/choose to foster animals
  17. Choose to shop/eat at a local farmers market
  18. Water your plants early in the morning or before the sun goes down (for example, before 10am and after 6pm)
  19. Choose to ride a bike/walk instead of driving
  20. Incorporate ‘green spaces’ in your home and at work
  21. Surround yourself with supportive people
  22. Ensure that the behaviours and environments you are exposed to are positive
  23. Say “no” to parties/social events and even relationships that don’t prioritise your safety and well-being
  24. Ensure that your friends and partners have your best interests at heart and have positive impacts on your health and mental well-being
  25. Prioritise your physical safety wherever you go (for example, never leave your drink unattended, go to the bathroom with a friend, don’t run/go for walks alone) – in other words, try to be safety conscious as much as possible, especially in new environments
  26. Refrain from supporting conventional zoo’s
  27. Refrain from supporting circuses that include animal acts
  28. Support animal/wildlife rescue sanctuaries
  29. Research movements such as the dairy and meat free movements, battery farms/the importance of free range, natural products
  30. Be aware of and care for animals like frogs on the road, birds, bees or any animals that you may find in your environment

Environmental Wellness self-care goal setting: Think of one main, long-term goal you would like to focus on in your personal self-care plan. For example: “I would like to reduce my Carbon Footprint

Your carbon footprint indicates how much Carbon Dioxide you as an individual produce through the activities you choose to do in a year like driving your car, the amount of electricity you use and how much energy/resources are used to produce the food and goods you buy. Carbon Dioxide is dangerous because it is considered a greenhouse gas that causes global warming. Knowing about our carbon footprints is important because it provides a way for us to become aware of and understand our personal impact on the planet/our contribution to global warming – this can then help us to monitor and minimise our negative environmental contributions (Time for Change).

Now, think of two short-term goals/acts of self-care that you can incorporate into your day-to-day life in order to reach your main goal. For example: Prioritise switching off lights and organise a lift club to work/school with people that you find positive and encouraging or you can choose to support and grow your own home-grown, natural produce as well as choosing to spend less time watching tv/using technology

Environmental Wellness challenge for the week:

  • Monday: Prepare and eat Meatless Monday meals today
  • Tuesday: Remember your reusable shopping bags today/this week when you go shopping
  • Wednesday: Pick up some litter today if you see any lying around
  • Thursday: Try and go “plastic free” for the day
  • Friday: Spend time sitting in the sun/going for a walk outside with someone who you feel positively influences you
  • Saturday: Buy groceries/fresh produce at a local market
  • Sunday: Recycle your rubbish

Self-reflection Questions:

  • What did I just read about?
  • Do I feel as if I am currently looking after my environmental wellness?
  • Have I ever calculated my carbon footprint?
  • In what areas can I realistically begin to positively impact the planet in my day-to-day life?
  • Did I learn anything from this blog post?
  • Am I water conscious?
  • Am I plastic conscious?
  • Are the environments I allow myself to be a part of healthy?
  • Are the people and their behaviours I allow into my space positive?
  • How did this blog post make me feel?Am I living a sustainable lifestyle?
  • Could I benefit from learning more about how to live more environmentally friendly?
  • Am I being eco-friendly in my home, work/school?
  • How can I begin to prioritise my environmental wellness into my personal self-care plan?
  • What can I keep in mind for the future from this blog post?

I would like to take the opportunity to remind my readers that if they feel as if they are currently stuck in/exposed to an environment that they feel is toxic, abusive, violent or that is simply negatively affecting their well-being, there is strength in reaching out for help, be it to someone that you trust or a mental health counsellor. You never have to face anything alone.

Thank you for taking the time to read and learn about our Environmental Wellness this week. In the next blog post, we will be discussing our Financial Wellness!

Until next week xx

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