Wellness Series: Be Aware of your Surroundings and Play Outside

Carolyn Hoy

What does the word “environment” bring to mind? For many people, it stirs up images of global warming, maybe of a future Earth consumed in fire. Perhaps it brings to mind whales or dolphins, the mountains, or the Ozone layer. However, the environment is a much broader topic than the oceanic horizon often imagined in conjunction with the word “environment.”

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Credit: freedigitalphotos.net graur codrin

Environment pertains to people’s surroundings. This includes the world and its natural resources, and it also includes the emotional climate in which people live. This is why “environmental” is considered one of the seven crucial aspects of wellness.

Wellness is defined on the Northern Maine Community College website as “the state or condition of being in good physical and mental health.” It is the individual’s well-roundedness or how they cope with life in general. However, as the saying goes, “people are not islands.” They are dependent on each other for many aspects of life, including wellness. Social wellness would be difficult to achieve without a social life; emotional wellness is damaged if emotions toward other people are not controlled. Environmental wellness involves the setting in which people conduct their social and emotional lives. This involves the world itself and the emotional climate, the undertones and “gut feelings,” surrounding people in their daily lives.

How do I Achieve Environmental Wellness?

The University of California at Riverside, or UCR, says that to achieve positive environmental wellness an individual must lead “a lifestyle that is respectful to our environment and minimizes any harm done to it.” With all the talk of global warming and limited natural resources today, how can an individual live a modern life but still have a healthy environmental wellness sphere, if this is the definition of environmental wellness?

UCR has some recommendations. The first step is gaining knowledge about the Earth’s resources and its limits. Magazines like Scientific American and organizations like the Environmental Protection Agency provide information for learning about resources.

Once someone has a basic knowledge of the environment and its needs, they can begin to life “a life accountable to environmental needs, both in the present and in the long-term,” according to UCR. Although people must use some natural resources to live, they can be responsible in their use. They can turn off the light when they leave a room, combine trips to the store to save gas, and recycle. Although these ideas are so overused and over-discussed that they might be considered “beating a dead horse,” they are cornerstones for environmental wellness in individuals, communities, and the world.

Although everyone’s contribution is important to help worldwide problems that scientists claim threaten Earth’s future, environmental wellness starts with the individual. UCR says it involves being aware of one’s surroundings. Consider things like is that child in danger of running out in front of a car, or is that elderly woman in need of help to reach the top shelf in the grocery store? How about considering random acts of kindness—what if everyone implemented the “drive-thru challenge” that the radio station 94.9 KLTY in Dallas, Texas, is doing? This is when someone pays for the person behind them in the drive-thru when they paid for their own meal.

People can also increase their environmental wellness with outdoor activities like hiking, horseback riding, camping, swimming, swimming, pick-up sports, canoeing, photography, and many more. This accomplishes two agendas at once—it reduces pollution caused by other man-made entertainment options, and it gives the individual a chance to experience the environment and relax. If done with friends, it can even contribute to other aspects of wellness—social and emotional. Although “saving” the environment by conserving resources is important, enjoying it—in ways that do not hurt it, of course—is just as crucial.

Environmental wellness encompasses everything about the setting where someone lives. How do they view their impact on the physical environment? That affects environmental wellness. How do they interact with nature? That, too, affects environmental wellness. Do they live and work in a positive emotional climate with plenty of time outside? Do they contribute to positive climates for others? While it is a broad topic, and is often overlooked when considering wellness, environmental wellness is important for the way people conduct their lives inside themselves and as members of a changing world.

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