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Look Around to Look Within

Genetics, personal history, diet, and lifestyle all play a role in our mental health. While it is critical we look within, it is also imperative we look around, as the environment in which we live also plays an important role in our overall mental health and emotional well-being. Some factors are triggers while others are roots.

Your Environment Influences Your Health

One thing is for certain, though. As the discussion surrounding mental health becomes more necessary, the role our surroundings (the everyday people, places, and situations) plays must be considered and addressed. Both physical and social circumstances are a part of our environment, each of which can impact our mental health and well-being individually or totally. How do your physical and social surroundings influence the state of your own well-being?

Some physical factors include sleep deprivation, environmental pollution, and smoking– all of which may be within our control or influenced by extenuating factors outside of our ability to fix. Not enough sleep and repetitive exposure to pollution and smoke prevent your body AND mind from resting and resetting– increasing your risk for depression and anxiety.

Some social factors that negatively affect your emotional well-being include experiencing stigma, discord, and/or toxic relationships. Each of these factors, like the ones above, can increase your risk of mental illness, but also lead you to develop dismissive or destructive feelings towards yourself and others.

For more information on the various physical and social factors of our environment that affect our overall mental health and well-being, visit the National Counseling Society. Every one of us will experience situations differently, as we all have varying frames of reference because of our past, our mindset, and even the vision/goals for our future.

However, moving forward, we encourage you to analyze how much control you have over these and the other leading factors that influence your environment. Simple strategies to overcome these hurdles may not seem worthwhile, but simplicity can still be effective, and every “small” win is still a win! So, what can you do?

  1. Join our Disconnect to Reconnect community challenge. It starts on 8/22! Visit our portal to begin by creating a login. By reevaluating your relationship with screen time and practicing positive behaviors that help you balance that relationship, you will find the extra time in your day for self-care (combatting the environmental factors that we don’t have the ability to change!), distancing yourself from social media influencers and in-person companions that don’t serve you (eliminating toxic relationships!), and unwinding before bed (ensuring the best night of sleep!).

  2. Move, meditate, and be mindful. Our favorite 3 M’s! We’ll write more on this next week, but making time in your day to do AT LEAST one of the three can help you prioritize your emotional, physical, and environmental well-being.

  3. Create an environment you CAN control. Whether it’s at home, at work, at the library, or wherever you go to work or unwind, make your space conducive to productivity or successful relaxation. It can be as simple as adding a plant to create green space, or it may be as involved as a total makeover! Clutter can create anxiety. A TV in your bedroom can encourage less desirable pre-sleep habits. All in all, there are ways to support yourself through your environment for better emotional, physical, and social well-being.