Is Your Environment Affecting Your Health?

Ever wonder why you just can’t seem to get your life together no matter what? You’ve done all you can do but nothing seems to work. Your sleep schedule is erratic, your dark eye circles put pandas to shame, and your diet is probably questionable at best. Social life? Barely there. Dignity? Long gone. Your life is in absolute shambles — to say the least. But maybe it’s not even purely your fault. Make no mistake, we’re almost always the one who is most responsible for every aspect of our own lives and decisions, including those that affect our well-being. But there could very well be partly an external contributing factor, or two, that has been holding you back. Nothing exists in a vacuum. Let’s take a look at how this works.

 

How Much Does The Environment Affect Us?

Our surroundings can have a powerful influence on the way we feel and act — more so than any of us may realise. We may be the biggest architects in our own disasters but none of them would be possible without an external influence or two. Studies have even found that our environment — physical and social — has the third biggest influence on our well-being, after our own behaviour and genetics.

It doesn’t matter if you spend the rest of your life safely ensconced inside a cave, away from other people. As sad as it is, that cave becomes your environment. The colours of the cave walls can affect how you feel, while the amount of sunlight you get, or the lack thereof, may also directly impact your health. Human beings are also intensely social creatures; even the most extreme of introverts need to be in the company of others every now and then. Being in that hypothetical cave, away from direct human contact, can affect you too.

 

The Link Between Aesthetic Appeal And You

Imagine living in that cave we talked about, surrounded by its drab and dingy walls. Depressing, isn’t it? Unless something about you is wired completely different from everyone else, aesthetic appeal can have a truly compelling effect on our minds. Research revealed that receptors in our brains’ visual cortex are triggered whenever our eyes process something beautiful, such as visually stimulating scenes of nature. They’re the ones responsible for making us feel so good whenever we’re taking in natural scenery, compared to staring at those dull cave walls.

This stands in direct contrast with how we tend to feel whenever we process a visually distressing environment. Consider how you feel whenever you see a traffic jam. Even if you’re not in stuck in one, just seeing it from the outside probably made you wince inwardly a little bit. This is because the scene triggers our brain to signal an increase in the production of cortisol, also known as stress hormones. They’re the ones responsible for why you may feel distressed just by looking at a stressful environment. The same concept applies if you’re often surrounded by high levels of stress, whether be it during the holiday period or working hours. Your body is ruled by hormonal levels and elevated cortisol levels can be extremely detrimental for your overall health and mood. High cortisol levels can even lead to a weakened immune system; if you find that you’ve been falling sick very often regardless of how careful you are with your diet, this may be the reason why.

 

The Impact Of Colours On Our Mood And Well-Being

Colours in our environment may also have their own specific impact on our overall mood and consequently, our mental and physical health. They may even affect the way you perceive certain things. Consider how you feel when you’re wearing an outfit in your favourite colour. Now, compare that to how you would react to a shopping mall covered in pastel pink on Valentine’s Day, especially when you’re single. Perhaps it has happened so often that you’ve now developed a deep-seated aversion to every single pastel colour you come across.

We tend to form such associations with colours because it’s the way our brains try to cope with having to process so much external information. Over time, your brain will learn to file away colours accordingly to save time and help you carry out your daily tasks more efficiently. For instance, blue is often cited as a favourite colour because many of us somehow learnt to associate the colour with calmness and peace. That’s why so many websites on interior design will often cite blues as a great choice for the colour of your bedroom walls. If you find that you’ve been struggling to get in the right headspace for sleep, your choice of paint colour may be a major reason why. Neon pinks may be excellent mood-lifters but certainly not calming.

 

What You Can Do About It

Move out of, or make the appropriate changes to, your current environment if you suspect that it may indeed be affecting your health. Finally, you now have all the right reasons to splurge on a little home improvement! But on a serious note, an environment that is so stressful, that it extends well into the realm of toxicity, can be just as damaging to your physical and mental health as poor diet or lack of physical exercise. Never underestimate the impact that your environment may have on you.