How you manage the Environment around you has an effect on your Mental Health & Wellness.

Over the past few weeks, we have talked about some of the aspects, which affect our Mental Health and Wellness and related tips to handle them. Along with the tips, it is essential to practice them diligently and with the required periodicity, or else you will not achieve the desired results. Hope you have started the process and begun to notice visible positive changes in yourself!

For any new habit to take shape, determination, diligence, dedication, discipline, and direction are MANDATORY coupled with the right attitude. Although of the aspects mentioned above, some may be internal factors and others external, it is to do with you and you alone. Therefore, you need to view them very seriously for your overall wellbeing. The reason is that none of these aspects exists in isolation.

Today, we shall talk about one of the external factors. Although, we may not always realise and understand its implications and impact on us, however, they are phenomenal. We may also negate it and think it is not important and may brush it aside, but when we face severe consequences for want of adequate care towards it, we regret it. This external factor, which affects us in a big way, is our Environment.

So engrossed are we in coping with our daily life routine, little do we think about it. Whether it is the food we eat, the water we drink, or the air we breathe, they are all environment driven. The day there is an environmental imbalance or a calamity, we would get nothing. Can you imagine how life would be if we did not have an environment conducive to our survival? We cannot and we do not – for the simple reason that we think it is our right to get it, and when we do, we take it all for granted.

We will again go back in time. As children, our elders constantly told us not to waste things, whatever they may be. Despite the fact that we were born and brought up with this simple ‘mantra’, why do we forget to follow them when we grow up? Strange enough, we expect others to follow it without us doing it. Give it a serious thought!

Therefore, it is important that we live in harmony with our environment and be environment-friendly; else, it may lead to unforeseen and undesirable consequences. It is time that we understand and become aware of the effect of the Environment on our overall Wellness.

Why is our Environment important?

We need to understand the meaning of the environment and its impact on us and vice versa. Our environment comprises our surroundings and includes all the entities that surround us – living and non-living. Therefore, it is essential to take cognisance of our surroundings and our personal environment to ensure our actions do not affect them in a negative manner and should take all protective measures to save them. We need to recognise our interdependence with nature. Only then, will we do something about it.

Our environment provides us with a sense of safety and comfort. We do not realise that it helps us to work, live, relax, work, unwind, detach, focus, concentrate better, and the list is endless. It also helps in promoting mental health and alleviates the risk of developing mental illnesses. Protecting ourselves from environmental hazards and minimising the negative impact of our behaviour on our environment are also vital elements.   

We should appreciate the external cues and stimuli from the environment and be proactive in our approach, lest it should be too late for amends. If we fail to protect the environment, we will put not only ourselves but all our surrounding entities also at peril. It will affect our health, wellness, behaviour, and actions, and we will be fighting for mere sustenance. In other words, we will be endangering anything and everything including human existence.

How does your Environment affect your wellness?

We will share a few of the many alarming figures pertaining to our environment. This should be a revelation to all on the ill effects of human-created hazards.

As per the World Health Organisation (WHO), air pollution kills 13 people every minute owing to lung cancer, heart disease, and strokes. 24% of all global deaths are linked to the environment, which is about 13.7 million deaths a year. Do we need any more proof of how our actions affect the environment and how we get it back?

We define Environmental Wellness as…

“Our ability to build environmental awareness, reduce waste, and save natural resources to live in a clean and healthy environment.”

If we do not take care of the above aspect, it will affect all other aspects of our life – our profession, finances, peace of mind, emotions, etc.

You can achieve Environmental Wellness in the following ways:

1. Avoid wastage

Owing to increasing population, excess demand on available resources, and various reasons related to our environment – climatic changes, deteriorating quality of soil, impure water and foodstuffs, increasing air and noise pollution, etc., we have been facing a shortage of many resources, and even if they are available, their quality is questionable. Although certain resources may be available in abundance, the situation may not continue to remain so. The equation of demand and supply is so imbalanced at present, where the demand exceeds supply manifold, one needs to understand the value of these resources and learn not to waste them.  We cannot afford to be careless and extravagant about their usage. Therefore, one needs to understand the value of the resources and learn not to waste them.

If each one of us cautiously, judiciously, and consciously makes even small efforts to save and take care of our natural resources, we can cause a revolution and bring about a magnanimous change in the environment enabling us to sustain and exist in a better manner.

We need to reduce wastage of any kind – be it heat, light, daily used products, food, water, all kinds of fuel, etc. Of the above, heat and light are some common examples of wastage we see in our daily lives – be it at home or at our workplace. We do not realise it while in the act of wasting them. The shock of realisation occurs when we get the electricity bill. Then we start blaming all around us and make futile resolutions, but never implement them. Wastage of electricity results in outages due to the shortage. This directly affects us and causes many disruptions in our lives.

Wastage of food and water is common in households, restaurants, hotels, weddings, etc. and nobody bothers about it. It is sheer indifference! These are just a couple of examples. If we start talking about each of the above resources and beyond in detail, there will be no end.

Therefore, we need to amend our thought process and attitude, and instead of preaching to others, should believe in practice and try to ensure others do it too.

2. Build awareness and take corrective and collective action

To ensure we start practising the above regularly, we need to build awareness of our surroundings and environment, both at the macro and micro levels. Macro-level comprises industries, agriculture, and transportation. It is essential to understand the impact of the above on our environment and our health. Industrial waste, chemicals used for agriculture, emission from transportation, etc. is extremely hazardous and some can have a long-lasting and irreversible impact on our health. While the above infrastructure is set up for our convenience and use, we also need to consider their flip side and use them with caution and to our and to the benefit of those around us.

The micro-level comprises ourselves and the communities in which we live. Does anyone voluntarily think of planting saplings, starting a cleanliness drive either at the individual or community level, etc. which would benefit all? We know only how to complain about pollution, dirt, poor infrastructure, etc. and seldom do we take any corrective action. Neither do we like to initiate a positive action nor raise any objection if someone is engaged in such malpractices. If we cannot manage these things in our houses, offices, etc. at the individual and community level, it is a logistic nightmare to think of all this at the national level.

Therefore, instead of adopting an indifferent and complaining attitude, we need to involve ourselves in projects, be it big or small, that work towards the betterment of our environment and community. Collective action can cause a ripple effect and positive changes would be very visible in no time. We need to take both individual and collective ownership. Let us not forget – it is our environment and our life!

When we decide to take corrective action towards our environment and surroundings, it should be in a dedicated manner with time well spent on a regular basis until we achieve the desired results, and not do it as a mere one-time activity. Retain, Sustain, and Maintain!

 3. Eliminate harmful habits/ practices

While we are involved in building a healthy and sustainable environment, we need to eliminate certain wrong habits or practices. Else, all the efforts would be nullified. For e.g. – If a ‘cleanliness drive’ is on in a particular location to clear the trash, and on the other hand, people continue to litter the same area. Unless and until individuals are not responsible enough to stop these undesirable practices, we along with our environment will continue to suffer.

It is common to see people littering roads, and public places, throwing their own house waste in undesirable places, etc. Despite the fact that all are aware that the above are undesirable and prohibited actions, they continue to do it. Is there any logical reasoning to it or is it a mere indifferent and callous attitude? Unfortunately, this is prevalent not only in rural areas but also in urban areas.

We all are aware that plastic is choking the earth and clogging the water bodies. There are innumerable drives and despite the fact that the Govt. has banned the use of plastic, it remains in use. How often do we refuse plastic bags when shopkeepers or vegetable vendors provide their goods in them? On the contrary, we continue to ask them for plastic bags merely for our immediate convenience without considering its long-term impact. We as citizens only provide our supporting voices for such drives, but our actions do not support them. Actions speak louder than words! It is high time we all collectively do something about all this; else, doomsday is not far away. We all witnessed the recent pandemic and still, we have not learnt our lessons.  

Should we choose to walk on the streets without adequate protective measures, it is almost an impossible mission. The pollution from vehicles, harmful combustion of objects/ articles, smoke, burning of logs, etc. can cause many serious physical and mental ailments with long-lasting effects. Human beings are responsible for the above harmful habits/ actions. Constant vehicular honking also can cause deafness. Do we need to become victims of these jeopardising situations to realise and understand their negative impact?

The above examples were only a few of the many harmful habits we need to eliminate from our lives. Once we are aware of the impact of our various actions on the environment, we will need to take serious cognisance of it and live a life accountable to environmental needs. Timely corrective action is mandatory to promote healthy surroundings and lead a healthy life not only for ourselves but for future generations as well.

We cannot neglect our Environmental Wellness because…

Our Environment directly affects our life!

 Give it a deep thought and take care of your Environmental Wellness.

Ajay Mahajan | Sadhana Rao |

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