This article is the second in a series of nine that focus on areas that I explore with my health coaching clients.  Our health and well-being are so much more than just what we eat and how active we are, even though that is certainly part of it.   What changes would you like to see in your life?  Whether its nutrition, being physically active, reducing stress, being more in-tune with your mind body connection, or being more aware of your environment and its impact on health and wellness, there is always an opportunity to explore potential areas for change.  Our environment does play such an important role in our health and well-being.   What a great area to explore as part of our second area of emphasis in this series. Read more and think about what small changes you might make in your environment.


 

The environments we find ourselves in, whether home, office, or landscape have the ability to impact our overall wellbeing. As many of us know, environments can create or reduce stress. Light, air, sound, space, and color all have the ability to impact our health. Do you take time to walk in nature on a regular basis or do you spend most of your time in an enclosed room with little natural light or air? This area of health and wellness invites you to look at ways you might enhance your environment to be more conducive to health.

 

Did you know?

 

Why not start with making one or two small changes in an area of your choosing?  Below are some tips and resources to get you started.


Environment Tips: Nature

 

Take time outside each day to be in nature- this can be as simple as walking down a tree-lined street, sitting on a patch of grass, or leaning against a tree.

If you can’t go outside, spend time looking out a window or looking at pictures of nature.

Taking nature inside by having plants in the places you spend most your time.

 

 

Environment Tips: Clean Air (Indoor)

 

Check for radon. Information on how to do this can be found below in the resources section under the heading Clean Air.

 

Use a carbon monoxide monitor at home and work.

 

Limit exposure to adhesives, cleaners, paints, and choose low/no VOC products.

 

Avoid secondhand smoke.

 

Vacuum and dust regularly.

 

 

Environment Tips: Clean Air (Outdoor)

 

Check airnow.gov to learn about local air quality.

 

Avoid exercising near busy streets and roads and stay inside at times of day when traffic is the highest.

 

Avoid exposure to idling cars, trucks, and buses.

 

 

Environment Tips: Reduce Noise

 

Know the sources of “noise pollution” in your area and control for them when you can (loud music, alarms, traffic).

 

When possible use materials that absorb sound in your environment (acoustic tiles, rugs or carpet).

 

If you can’t control the noises, when appropriate wear noise cancelling headphones or ear plugs.

 

 

Environment Tips: Light

 

When possible, work near windows.

 

Use lighting that you find pleasing.

 

 

Environment Tips: Color

 

Choose colors in the environment that are personally pleasing.  Paint the walls and use colors throughout your environment that evoke how you want to feel.

 

Environment Tips: Clutter

 

Cut down the amount of clutter you have in your home and office by reviewing contents and asking the questions: Do I use you/ when was the last time I used you? Do I need you?

 

Do regular inventories of your belongings.

 

When you bring something new into your house give one item away.

 

Resources

 

Clean Air:

 

Air Now provides up to date information on air quality for your local area: airnow.gov

 

Information on radon and how to test for it: http://www.epa.gov/radon/pubs/citguide.html

 

Information on VOC’s and how to limit exposure: http://www.epa.gov/iaq/voc.html

 

Clutter:

How Clutter Affects Your Brain: http://lifehacker.com/how-clutter-affects-your-brain-and-what-you-can-do-abo-662647035

 

Clear Clutter Out of Your House and Relax by Gina Shaw: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/features/clear-clutter-out-of-your-house

 

Reducing Exposure to Environmental Contaminants:

 

Reducing Environmental Exposures: The Seven Best Kid-Friendly Practices: https://www.health.ny.gov/environmental/children/reducing_environ_exposures.htm

 

NIH: Reducing Environmental Cancer Risk: http://deainfo.nci.nih.gov/advisory/pcp/annualReports/pcp08-09rpt/PCP_Report_08-09_508.pdf

 

Sources and Citations:

 

Vanderbilt Health Coaching Program, Resources for Health and Wellness Coaches. https://www.vumc.org/health-coaching/health-coaching-program

 

A Time to Bloom Health and Wellness Coaching, LLC https://atimetobloomcoaching.com/

 

 Maller et al. Healthy nature healthy people: ‘contact with nature’ as an upstream health promotion intervention for populations. Health Promotion International. Retrieved from: http://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/content/21/1/45.full

 

 American Lung Association. Retrieved from: http://www.lung.org/associations/charters/mid-atlantic/air-quality/indoor-air-quality.html

 

 World Health Organization. Ambient air quality and health. Retrieved from: http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs313/en/

 

 Ulrich, R. Evidence Based Environmental Design for Improving Medical Outcomes. Retrieved from: http://www.takingcharge.csh.umn.edu/explore-healing-practices/healing-environment/-more-information-about-healing-environment

 

 Joseph, A. The Impact of Light on Outcomes in Healthcare Settings. Retrieved from: http://www.healthdesign.org/sites/default/files/CHD_Issue_Paper2.pdf

 

 Toefle, R et al. Color in Health Care Environments. Retrieved from: http://www.healthdesign.org/chd/research/color-healthcare-environments

 

 McMains, S. 2011.  Interactions of top-down and bottom-up mechanisms in human visual cortex. Journal of Neuroscience. 31(2):587-97