Imagine relaxing on a tropical beach. The waves are lapping at the shore, the sun is warming your body, and the sounds of nature are all that you hear.
Now imagine that you are walking in the city, in the driving, icy rain. There is rush-hour traffic all around, blasting horns and splurting out fumes.
Our environment can have a strong impact on our wellbeing.
This article looks at environmental wellness – what it is and goals to help us improve ours.
What is environmental wellness?
Environmental wellness refers both to being in tune with the environment that you are in, and living in an environmentally friendly way.
But what does this mean?
Living in an environmentally friendly way is to be respectful of the environment, and to minimise our impact on it. There are many different ways to do this, from reducing our consumption, to recycling, to campaigning or educating and more. There are more details in the next section for goal ideas to help you live more environmentally friendly.
Being in tune with the environment that you’re in could mean spending time in nature and being mindful of your surroundings. Look at the trees, listen to the birds, smell the flowers. The positive impact of the natural environment on our wellbeing is well documented.
However, it is not just the natural environment that affects us. All environments impact us, either positively or negatively. Your home, your work, your favourite chair – they can all affect our mood.
So what can you do if your environment is bringing you down? Keep reading for ideas to help you create a more positive space.
How can you improve your environmental wellness?
Below are some goal ideas to help you improve each aspect of environmental wellness introduced above.
Environmentally friendly goals
1. Reduce consumption
Water, energy, manufactured products – all of these have an impact on the environment. So think about what you are using, and reduce this where possible.
For example, reduce fuel consumption by walking or cycling where possible. Buying local, or making or growing your own will also help to reduce your carbon footprint.
This doesn’t just mean putting your bottles out with the bins. You could also consider buying second hand instead of new, and sell or give away things that you no longer need instead of binning them. Likewise think about how you can reuse items. This site has some great ideas for reusing everyday items.
3. Don’t litter
From fly-tipping on the side of the road, to plastic bags in our oceans, littering is incredibly harmful to nature. So take all your litter home with you. Better still, reduce litter completely by choosing products with minimal packaging.
4. Raise awareness
Firstly do your own research about the natural environment and our impact upon it. Then, share this knowledge with others. You can do this by sharing information with your friends, or signing up to an organisation that advocates for the environment.
There are often opportunities for volunteers to help environmental causes. Examples of this include litter picking, tree planting, advocacy or raising funds for these causes. If you can’t find anything near you, why don’t you organise something that matters in your neighbourhood?
6. Plant trees
Trees are important for the air that we breathe. In addition, they provide a home for various wildlife, and prevent soil erosion. Plant and look after trees in your garden, or work with others on a local tree-planting initiative.
Goals to appreciate nature
1. Get out in nature
Go to the beach, the forest, the mountains – even the local park. Find some green space near you and get outside.
2. Notice three things
Pay attention to what you can see, hear, touch, smell and feel. Be mindful of your surroundings.
3. Bring the outdoors in
If you aren’t able to get outdoors as often as you would like, think about how you can add some nature to your indoor environments. You could try houseplants, pictures of mountain views, or shells or driftwood from the beach. You could also try nature-inspired scents or sounds.
Improving your environments
If your current environments are bringing you down, here are some ideas to change this.
1. Personalise your space
Environmental wellness comes from being in tune with your environment, so if this is out of whack then it makes sense to add some things that are important to you to your surroundings. For instance, you could add photos of people or places that you love, inspiring quotes, ornaments, keepsakes, artwork, or anything that moves you. Bring it into your environment to personalise your space.
2. Declutter & spring clean
Perhaps your environment brings you down because it is cluttered or dirty. If so, have a spring clean. Throw out anything that doesn’t ‘spark joy’, and scrub the place up to give it a new lease of life.
If a spring clean isn’t quite enough, how about a renovation? Think about what it is about the space that’s bringing you down, and see how you can change that. Pinterest is a great source of inspiration if you don’t know where to start.
Finally, if the negativity in your environment can’t be fixed by cleaning or renovating, perhaps it’s time to get out! Take a look at options for places to move to. Alternatively, if moving isn’t a possibility, reflect upon what it is about different environments that seems so welcoming, and see what you can incorporate into yours.
Discovering new environments
One of the elements of environmental wellness is being aware of your environment. We tend to be more aware when we’re in new environments, as once things become familiar we are more likely to go onto autopilot.
The most obvious way to discover new environments is to travel. When you travel, make sure you take some time to notice the sights, sounds and smells of your new environment.
2. New environments near you
However, you don’t need to travel to far-flung places to go somewhere new. How about taking a different route for a regular journey. Or checking out a new park or neighbourhood in your town. You can even discover new things in familiar places, by paying attention to everything that you see, hear and smell.
Our environmental wellness can have a significant impact on our mood, and therefore our health. These 15 goal ideas can help you start to make changes to improve yours.
Can you think of a time when your environment has had an impact on your mood? Comment below to share your story.
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