Mental health seems to be at the forefront of so many conversations nowadays. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are concerned about how their environment might be impacting their mental health. If you’ve considered such a thing, it’s important to know that there is, indeed, a connection. Cases of depression during the pandemic have actually gone up 12% from the norm. But, it’s not just the impact of COVID-19 on our environment that can cause depression.
There are so many environmental factors that can come into play when it comes to your mental health. The things you’re surrounded with every day will have a direct impact on how you feel. Even the relationships in your life can make a difference. So, it’s essential to have a better understanding of both physical and social environmental factors. The more you know about how your environment impacts you, the more motivated you might be to make positive changes.
What’s the Connection?
Exactly how does your environment impact your mental health?
In order to better understand the connection, you simply have to look at the things around you every day, from the lighting in a room to the color that room is painted, to the temperature. For example, studies have shown that warmer temperatures can increase negative health outcomes. Certain colors evoke specific feelings. Even the cleanliness of a space can help you to feel more relaxed and focused.
Some of the more common physical environmental factors that can impact your life on a daily basis include:
- Hazardous conditions at work
Your social life can also play a part in your mental health state, including any stigmas you might face, your income, your spirituality or religion, or even your relationship. Even your family life at home can be detrimental to your health if you are being abused or being used as a scapegoat for everyone’s problems. These are considered social environmental factors, and while they aren’t always as easy to “check” as physical ones, they can cause just as much harm to your mental state.
How to Change Your Environment for the Better
If you recognise that your environment is causing you distress, making changes as quickly as possible is the best thing to do. First, however, you need to have a solid understanding of how your environment is affecting you.
There are plenty of “little things” you can do to make impactful changes in how you feel. For example, if you find that you’re regularly fatigued throughout the day, you might not have the motivation to do much. Unfortunately, fatigue can lead to depression, and being depressed can make you tired, creating an endless cycle that’s difficult to break. Setting up a relaxing environment at home, especially in your bedroom, can help.
It’s also crucial to look at the things that are making you feel fatigued, or depressed, or anxious. Sometimes, something as simple as a fresh coat of paint can completely change how you feel about a specific space. Other times, you might need to be the one who moves in order to change your environment. Thankfully, that’s easy too. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed, step into a different room. Better yet, go outside and take a walk. Changing your scenery will help to give you perspective and reduce your stress levels.
What to Do When You Can’t Change Your Environment
Even if your environment might not be conducive to a positive mental health state, you may not always be able to change it. That’s especially true if it’s a work or school environment that’s out of your control.
So, what can you do to improve your mental health if you’re not able to make changes to your space? Make changes to the things you can control. As stated above, you have the ability to change your environment by removing yourself from it whenever possible. You’re entitled to breaks from work, so get out of the office and go for a walk. When you’re not at work or school, make sure you’re striking a healthy work-life balance spending time with friends and family outside of your job, and going to places that make you feel calm and happy.
If you’re really struggling with your environment and you can’t seem to find any way to change it, you might benefit from speaking with a mental health professional. A therapist or counsellor can help you figure out any underlying issues about your environment that could be contributing to your feelings. Thankfully, things like telehealth have made it easier than ever for people to find a mental health provider, especially when considering how 1 in 5 Americans have dealt with mental health setbacks in their lives. With the rise in telehealth, more and more people might be able to get the mental health care they need, including you.
Don’t wait for something like depression or anxiety to take you down. If your environment is impacting your mental health, do what you can to make changes or to switch your situation and make your mental state a top priority.
Is your environment negatively affecting your mental health? Contact Colleen on 0434 337 245 or Duncan on 0434 331 243 for a FREE 10 minute consultation on how we can best help you or book online now.