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How environmental factors impact your wellbeing

Our home and work environments affect our emotional as well as our physical health. If you really want to grow, change your life and feel happier within yourself and experience an abundance of good health, then it’s important you take into account how your environment affects you.

Environmental factors impact your health in multiple ways. From the food we eat, to how it is grown, produced, and handled, to the air and stimulants around us. It all determines and plays an important role in our overall wellbeing.

Christmas decorations with environmental words and symbol

The following environmental factors may impact your health in multiple ways:

Food source and handling

We are fortunate in NZ to have a rich and healthy source of fresh produce and locally made products by responsible growers and manufacturers. However, we cannot be complacent. It is good practice to be alert to origins of food, to read food packaging labels  and raise awareness amongst our young people on environmental impacts of poor practices.

Water quality

Generally we are very lucky in NZ with reasonable standards of water quality. However, it is good to be aware of where the water we drink comes from that. Water filters need to be checked and changed regularly at work and home, including modern day fridges.  Water containing lead, often caused by the lead pipes used in older construction, can cause serious damage to the brain, kidneys, nervous system, and red blood cells.

Groundwater contamination occurs when man-made products such as petrol, oil, paint, and chemicals get into the groundwater causing it to become unsafe and unfit for human use. So it’s important to be aware of how you discard toxic materials, so they do not go in our groundwater and pollute our waterways.

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Impacts of loud sound and noise

According to research, our physical surroundings can increase or reduce our stress, which in turn impacts our bodies in multiple ways. Noise can increase stress which over the long term can lead to disorders as serious as heart disease, high blood pressure, and stroke. 

Visual “noise” increases stress. A cluttered, dirty, or confusing environment can cause us to feel worried, sad, or helpless. By contrast though, creating an environment that provides a sense of control, order and good energy can make us feel safe, pleasantly stimulated, and relaxed. Worksite noise exposure is a leading cause of hearing loss. 

Indoor air quality

Mould, dust, pollens, and stale air can all affect the quality of the air we breathe. This can exacerbate and contribute to the development of chronic conditions like asthma and allergies. Where possible circulate fresh air by opening windows and doors and air bedding on sunny days.  Secondhand smoke in homes and workplaces poses a significant risk – all workplaces must be smoke free.  Even so, we can still be highly exposed to secondhand smoke around us so try and avoid where possible.

Understanding the ways in which our environment impacts our health, gives us the power to make changes to support greater health and wellbeing of mind and body. Over the holiday break, aim to spend quality time in nature, drink plenty of water and strive to eat healthy – if possible. Unplug from social media and your phone as a daily practice for at least one hour a day, preferably longer. This allows you to seek peace and quiet to reconnect with yourself and others around you.

These small changes will have a big impact on how you feel in mind and body.

Check out Environment Centre Hawkes Bay for useful information and links.

The Environment Centre is the operational focus for the Sustaining Hawke’s Bay Trust

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