The External Environment: A Harmonious Home for Health & Wellbeing

Just as we need to work on our internal energy through healthy lifestyle choices, our external environment and the energy that surrounds us is also important to our health and wellbeing. And if you have a chronic health problem, such as a chronic exhaustive condition, you can get so wrapped up in how your body feels that you can forget how important your surroundings are to feeling better. It is that outward look that I am going to focus on here.

By surroundings I mean the area where you live as well as your home, but it is the latter that we have most control over, so that is a good place to start.Three key aspects to a harmonious home environment are having a tidy space, addressing any tensions with the people who share it with you and appreciating what you have.

Tidy Space

This year I have been taking part in a quarterly decluttering exercise with the view to creating space for the new to manifest, whether that is a personal goal or a material object. It has been a really interesting exercise.

I have found that the trick is to declutter little and often. So start small, picking one area of your home that bugs you, say a drawer or a shelf, and set a time limit to work on it - that could be 10 minutes or up to an hour. The trick is not to over face yourself so that you don’t do it at all or that you can’t face doing it again. You can always come back to it to complete the task another time.

Enjoy the glow of satisfaction at having decluttered that space - even better if you donated some items to charity or made some money by selling your unwanted stuff! Then schedule a time to do some more, whether that is finishing that area or moving on to a different one. Weekly is probably a bit optimistic (as I have found out!) but monthly or quarterly is a more realistic goal.

Even if you consider yourself to be neat and tidy, you will be surprised at how much potential there is for a sort out. You could even do some digital decluttering, clearing out old emails or electronic files.

Healthy Relationships

Healthy relationships play a significant role in wellbeing and healthy aging and none more so than those in the home environment. If there is a person in your home that makes you angry or upset, what impact is that having on your health? Is there a conversation that you are avoiding with that person? If so what? How can you address it?

I can recommend Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg for guidance on healthy ways to relate. And you may find some helpful coping strategies in my recent blog post How to Experience Anger in a Healthy Way.

Appreciating What You Have

The little things really do matter, so it is important not to overlook what you already have in your home that enhances your sense of wellbeing. What do you have in your home that you love? Is it where you can really appreciate it?

Equally, is there anything in your environment that you don't like and can get rid of to make space for something that you would enjoy?

Bringing to mind each day three things that you are grateful for in your home and life can engender a greater sense of contentment. First thing in the morning or bedtime can be a good time for that. To make it a regular practice, try hooking it onto another daily habit like when you have your morning cup of tea or coffee (or other hot drink of choice) or when you get into bed at night.

Your Local Environment

You can also have some influence over your local environment if there are elements of it that bug you or you think could be improved in some way.

If litter annoys you, is there a litter picking group that you can join or can you go out on your own? Where I live we have the Reading Adopt Your Street (RAYS) initiative through which the council provides litter picking equipment if you commit to tidying a street or footpath local to you on a monthly basis. Your local council may have something similar.

You can also report littering and fly tipping through the Love Clean Streets portal for your local area.

Or maybe, like me, you would like to see more wild flowers in your local area. Through the Rewilding Reading project run by the council, I have been able to ask for some verges near me to be mown just once a year so that the wild plants can flower and set seed to the benefit of residents and wildlife alike. There may be an initiative like that near you. Or you could join in with Plantlife's No Mow May and Let It Bloom June campaigns by allowing your lawn, if you have one, to flower in those months instead of cutting it. You could also grow wild flowers in pots or borders in whatever outdoor space you have.

Or if it is more street trees that you would like, you could contact your local tree wardens or become one yourself. See the Tree Council website for more details about that.

So whether it is tidying up a space in your home to improve the vibe, working on how you relate to those you may be living with, appreciating the good things in your home or improving your local environment, your health and wellbeing is set to benefit from your efforts. For more ideas for improving your home environment, have a look at my blog post How to Create a Healthy Home.