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Sunday, October 1, 2023

How Do You Feel About Your Environment?

How Do You Feel About Your Environment?

When you think about your environment, does the thought nurture and sustain you or do you find it stressful and draining?

Our surroundings play a major role in supporting our health and wellbeing, in improving our response to stress.

Even prisoners confined to their cells typically try to ‘own’ their personal space by marking their days of confinement on the walls, perhaps even adding graffiti. Doing this helps them retain their identity, feel more grounded, in control, so drifting less aimlessly from day to day.

Even when someone’s newly divorced and needing to temporarily rent or share they will often add touches and personalise their space by displaying photos, bright cushions, rugs and prints, all to feel that they’ve made themselves a home for a while.

From living in a city high rise apartment, with limited access to fresh air and grass, or alternatively being miles away from others, perhaps lonely, living in the countryside, on a farm or in the middle of nowhere, each scenario has its pros and cons.

For some, city centre life is the dream, living close to many amenities, with transport systems on the doorstep. Those who love it could imagine nothing worse than being miles from the nearest shop, restaurant or theatre. Conversely, those who love the countryside don’t mind mud, poor drainage and intermittent communications. They love being in close proximity to nature, the weather, animals and rolling hills.

The past year or two has meant that many of us have spent more time at home, with the resultant investment of hours, money and effort into enhancing our immediate environment. Repairs and upgrades have kept many of us busy and we’ve found the time and motivation to improve our homes and make them more appealing.

How many of us have had a real appreciation of our local environment until relatively recently? Not being able to travel far meant that many of us started going for walks and exploring our neighbourhoods. Speaking personally, I know that when my car’s been in for a service, and I’ve not had a courtesy car, its’s been interesting to organise my days so that I can walk and investigate the roads near where I live, to see the houses and gardens, admire those quirky little touches or wonder, ‘whatever were they thinking’! Like many of us, I‘ve usually been oblivious, driving past in a second, so being carless sometimes brings its own rewards.

Using our homes more intensively, to educate the children, work or simply have nowhere else we can legitimately go has resulted in us being more attentive to the ways we use our space, the amount of clutter we accumulate, how comfortable and fit for purpose they are.

Now that we’ve mainly resumed our ‘normal’ lives it’s important that we remain sensitive and in tune with the ways our environments affect us. At work, if we find that our surroundings negatively impact on our mood and stress levels is there some way we could plans breaks throughout the day for a walk, bike ride, gym session, maybe take a break in a local park, meet a friend for lunch, travel a route that’s especially appealing? Doing this is a good way to wind down.

Enjoy Your Home and Garden by Susan Leigh

Equally, working from home brings its own considerations, as the home can become synonymous with being constantly available to ‘just’ do something else or check in one more time. Screening off the workstation, perhaps closing the door to the office area, even having a jacket that’s worn for work and is hung up afterwards, ending the working day with a walk around the garden – all are ways to ring-fence our work situation and try to avoid seepage and overlap into other areas of life. It’s a way of managing our environment, feeling in control and taking charge of how much it impacts on our health and wellbeing.

Rather than start each day with a full-on ‘to do’ list, instead find ways to introduce a different pace of life and intermittently allow for some quiet time, free from time constraints, some whimsical ways to please yourself. Pause after you’ve finished one piece of work to have some fruit, a break outside and give yourself credit for your progress.

Positive touches in your environment include spending time in nature, tending your garden or allotment, accessing greenery with a walk, using your free time to go hiking or to enjoy time at the beach. Doing this with family or friends is also a good way to enhance those relationships, perhaps becoming fitter and healthier at the same time. Also, have areas of refuge, personal space in your home, like a comfortable bedroom, a bathroom where you can go to wind down after a busy day.

A few potted plants in your garden or on your balcony, a window box where you grow fresh herbs, all are little touches that can create a positive environment, influence it in a beneficial way and offer restful places to eat, read, entertain and relax.

It’s always important for us to do what we can to create the best environment possible for ourselves, to influence what we can in as healthy a way as possible. Little touches, personal additions, can make an enormous difference to our day and our mood, often without requiring too much expense.

Susan Leigh, Counsellor & Hypnotherapist .lifestyletherapy.net

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Susan Leigh
Susan Leighhttp://www.lifestyletherapy.net
Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist, relationship counsellor, writer & media contributor offers help with relationship issues, stress management, assertiveness and confidence. Author of 3 books, ‘Dealing with Stress, Managing its Impact’, ‘101 Days of Inspiration #tipoftheday’ and ‘Dealing with Death, Coping with the Pain’, all on Amazon. To order a copy or for more information, help and free articles visit www.lifestyletherapy.net

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