It is February, and we are halfway through the Winter 2022 semester. It is also the month of exams and the time when deadlines are piling up. With all these stressful events happening simultaneously, it is important to take care of your overall well-being, which includes your mental health.
When the term “environment” is brought up, most of us tend to think about the climate or aspects of nature surrounding us, like the ocean and the turtles, or the forests and lakes that make up the scenery in our neighbourhoods. However, the environment can also be one of the factors in our surroundings that influence our lifestyle. These factors may be our friends, family, work, school, or even the media. All of these have different levels of impact on our lifestyle and they play a significant role in our mental health.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), mental health is a state of well-being in which when an individual realizes their own abilities, they can cope with the normal stresses of life and work productively to make a contribution to their community (2). When you take care of your mental health, it can lead to a sustainable lifestyle where you can make better decisions and increase your self-confidence. The ways you can take care of your mental health are not limited to one approach, but are unique to the individual. However, before going further, we must first identify certain factors in our environment that can affect our mental health.
As a university student, or anyone that is taking educational courses, school can take up most of your time and you have to constantly organize your schedule to make plans for yourself. Students like you may have certain routines that you will follow to gain control over the decisions you make in your daily life. However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, your schedule may be thrown out of whack and adjustments are made out of haste. These adjustments can affect your mental health by changing how you perceive yourself and your surroundings.
Aesthetics and Sensory Factors Influencing your Online Workspace
Aesthetics refer to the objects in the space of a room. If you find yourself in a cluttered room, it may create feelings of overwhelm and anxiety (3). Tidying up, or putting things in certain places can boost your mood and increase your productivity.
Sensory factors refer to the lighting, temperature, sounds, smells, and the colour palette of a surrounding. These elements can help with how comfortable and safe you feel (3). With winter around, it may be difficult to feel motivated because of the weather and how cold it is. However, even with dampened moods, it is important to remind yourself that taking a hiatus and resting your mind is okay.
The people that you surround yourself with can strongly influence your lifestyle. For example, for most individuals, being with their family or friends can promote a sense of belonging, which decreases feelings of isolation and loneliness (4). Staying connected with your friends can also improve your self-confidence and self-worth; having support allows you to gain confidence in making decisions that you may have hesitated making before.
The Natural Environment
Of course! We cannot forget about our natural environment. Caring for your environment means caring for your mental health. Making sustainable decisions, such as choosing eco-friendly products or being aware of alternatives (see our last blog post for inspiration!) can bring a sense of worth and accomplishment. It allows us to be more conscious of our actions by making us think through the choices we can make. This can improve our mental health because having the ability to control the decisions you make can boost self-confidence and increase your motivation to be productive.
Our mental health can be impacted by the environment we are in. To improve our mental health, we should consider changing the factors in our surroundings that impact our daily lifestyles (6). This could be our school or home environment, the people surrounding us, or even how we choose to consume resources. You should design your surroundings that allow you to reframe your perceptions in a positive way, which is an important part of making better decisions and maintaining a sustainable lifestyle. Although there are various other factors, the ones mentioned above are a starting point to sustain u!
Written by Kathleen Tse
If you need to talk to someone, below are a list of resources you can access: