If you always seem stressed out, can’t seem to focus, or are easily irritated, your environment could be to blame. Most people assume the root of mental issues such as depression and anger is in the mind, when in fact it’s all around you.
Identifying and improving what is out of balance in your environment – and I’m not talking about feng shui here – is not only one of the easiest ways to change your mental wellbeing, it also has one of the biggest impact in your life.
With that said, let’s get started. Here are a number of different ways how your environment affects your mental wellbeing:
1. Effects of Poor Air Quality
If you live and work in a very small space with poor ventilation and little to no fresh air, you could not only experience some breathing problems, troubled skin, or trigger allergies or asthma – your mood will also go downhill.
The science behind air quality and mental health is complex, but here’s the gist of it: poor air quality adds to the stress that you experience – and that stress is often subconscious.
So make sure that your home and work space is properly ventilated and that you are not surrounded by second hand smoke or other toxins.
Keep windows open during a warm day and try and get some fresh air when you’re cooped up in an office for several hours at a time. Your body and mind need fresh oxygen for daily functioning and fresh air can also have a cleansing effect on your entire body.
Get some fresh air throughout the day for a mood boost and to clear your head when you’re feeling stressed.
2. Effects of too Much Noise
Noise is another subconscious contributor of stress. It’s so common, most people don’t even realize it. Close your eyes for a minute and just listen. Can you hear the traffic speeding by? Perhaps your computer buzzing? Or the fan whirling?
These are all noise, and studies have shown that they reduce focus and discipline – even if the subjects didn’t perceive any stress from them.
So here’s a simple suggestion: wear headphones at work to drown out chatter or music so you can concentrate for longer periods of time. Sometimes working in silence can have a very calming effect and may greatly improve your well-being.
If you have noisy neighbors or just live in a place that is generally noisy, consider wearing noise-canceling headphones when you are at home or listening to some soothing music. Listening to calm and peaceful music can help to relax the mind and body naturally.
Getting into the habit of managing this type of stressor can make your life that much more manageable. You’ll notice a significant improvement in your mood and feel less stressed on a daily basis.
3. Effects of Diet and Nutrition
This is something most of us miss. It’s so common to watch TV and see people eat tubs of ice cream or junk food when they are depressed, we assume that’s the right thing to do.
But the fact is, these foods can plunge you further into the abyss.
Foods with high sugar content, for example, can cause a spike in your blood sugar, making you feel better for a moment. But when your blood sugar crashes, it can literally affect the chemistry of your brain – the effects of which is not fully fathomed.
Some reports, however, indicated that it can contribute to depression and even ADHD.
4. Effects of Social Tension
Negative people are literally killing you, one brain cell at a time. That’s because every time you’re under stress, your brain squirts a tiny amount of a type of stress hormone called cortisol.
And while cortisol excites your brain for the short term, its constant presence can lead to dementia. Or inability to sleep.
Managing this type of stress in your environment isn’t always easy but there are some things you can do to prevent these things from affecting your mental and emotional well-being. First, you can distance yourself from negativity and make a conscious effort to stay positive.
If that’s not possible, you can work on improving some of your relationships or consider counseling or professional help to sort through some of your issues.