Using Your Environment to Help You
Why are we, as a nation, now struggling so much with our health and our wellbeing? Is it because genes have changed? Is it because our willpower is lacking? Is it because in general, motivation has gone? Or is it because actually our environment is very different? Our surroundings have such an impact on our lives. And making some small changes can transform our environment from being a barrier to being heathy, to something that can help set us on a much healthier path. Watch the video or read the blog below to find out more…
If you look back over the last 50 years and compare kind of foods we ate then and now, there is a big difference. Now we are surrounded by fast food and takeaways, colourful packaged foods and ultra-processed foods all over the supermarket shelves, in the freezer cabinets and fridges. We have so many more public transport options and more cars to carry us around; we have gadgets to do the heavy lifting and remote controls for almost everything. Our environment has really changed, which makes it more of a battle to stay fit and healthy. This is our time, our season and the culture and environment we are in. But just as our environment can be unhelpful, doesn’t it make sense that our environment could also really help us?
The reality is that we can control elements of our environment and our surroundings, whether that is in our homes and workplaces (which might be one and the same place right now), in our exercise environment and in our cars, in the people we spend time with and the places we go. So, it can be really helpful to think about how we can change our environment to help us.
Imagine the scenario: you’ve had a really busy day and you’re feeling stressed. You put the kids to bed, come down the stairs, walk into the lounge, turn on the television and you end up staying up much later than you really intended, mindlessly watching telly and scrolling on your phone. There’s nothing wrong with any of those things, if you’ve made an active decision to do them and they are things that you want to do. But if those things are not helping your health and wellbeing, and made you stay up late for no real reason or benefit, then what could have changed that scenario?
Perhaps you could have walked into a different room when you came down the stairs. Perhaps instead of there just being a remote control in the lounge, there might be some crafting or knitting you are doing, some colouring, some mending, some cards that need writing, or a magazine. It is worth thinking about a room that you walk into often, because making a small change to the room you go into, or the chair you sit in could also help you change some of your habits and actions.
And does your environment help you to take some exercise? Do you get your clothes ready the night before? Do you have clothes that actually make you feel good and make you want to exercise, or are you wearing crumpled, creased, too tight or too baggy clothing that doesn’t make you feel that great? Some ways to make your environment more conducive to exercise could be listening to some up-beat music, joining with others online or in person, listening to a podcast as you go walking, or walking somewhere new or different, so that part of the experience for you is exploring somewhere new. You may well have other ideas too!
Is there something you could change in your kitchen environment? Do you walk into the kitchen and the first thing that you see is biscuits, packets of crisps, or cake left out on the side? Could you change this so that the things that are visible are the healthier options, like a bowl of fruit on the side, or ready-chopped carrots, peppers and cucumbers at eye level when you open the fridge? That way, if you just find yourself in the fridge and you’re not quite sure why, you can reach for something healthy that will hit the spot because you just wanted to grab something. And similarly, think about your cupboard space. Is it really easy to get to those quick-grab processed foods or are they out of sight, with things like nuts, seeds and dried fruit in easier reach?
There are also the things we choose to surround ourselves with in terms of what we take in: the things we read, listen to and watch and the groups we join in person and online. Are they fuelling a desire to look after ourself and our well-being, or are they actually bringing us down or putting us in a different place. And are the people you surround yourself with on the same journey, going in the same direction as you are? Do you have a coach or a personal trainer? Do you have an accountability partner or a friend who spurring you on? Is there someone ahead of you who has walked the same path you are following, because someone like that can be inspiring and encouraging too.
While it can be a battle to be healthy and balance, and our environment can present a number of barriers, we can also turn it to our advantage. So, I encourage you to consider what quick wins or quick changes could make your environment more helpful, to drive you forward to be a more healthy whole and free version of you.
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