This is a transcript of Live the 8Wise™ Way Podcast.
Is Your Environment Making You Sick?
Hi everybody and welcome back to Live The 8Wise™ Way for mental health and wellbeing, or should I say for improved mental health and wellbeing, so that you can have a healthier, happier mind and live a really fulfilling high quality of life.
My name is Kim Rutherford. I’m a psychotherapist, I’m an author and I am now obviously a podcast host as well, but more importantly I am the creator of the 8Wise™ method for developing better mental and wellbeing. If this is your first time joining us, thank you so much. I hope that you get something really useful from this episode to help you with your own mental health and wellbeing journey. After this episode, I recommend you go straight back to episode one and you can then get a really good understanding of the different elements that we’ve talked about so far with regards to the full wellness spectrum, which I call the 8Wise™ wellness spectrum.
Now, if you are following along with the book, you’ll be able to find the information relating to today’s episode on pages 152 and 251 and if you’re listening to this thinking, what on earth is she talking about, then what I’m talking about is the 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, which is the book that accompanies the podcast and it’s what they’re calling the mental health manual for the modern world. It is a self-help book that takes you through the model, takes you through the theory and the knowledge of the model and takes you through the practical exercises linked to the 8Wise™ model so that you can start living the 8Wise™ Way today and have a healthier, happier mind and better mental health and wellbeing too.
If you haven’t done it yet, and you think you want to get to know when all the new episodes are coming out, then I recommend that you hit that subscribe button right now and that way you won’t miss a thing in the future. If you want to get access to any of the books, the 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, or the 8Wise™ 12-week journal, or the 8Wise™ 12-month planner, or even the 8Wise™ pocket book of wellness, then you can go and get them from any online bookstore, all the big ones, all the small ones, anywhere online that sells books, you can access these books. You can even access them from me directly via my website which is www.8wise.co.uk. I recommend if you are going to have a look at the website, then it’s worth having a look at the free downloads where you will find lots of activities in word format and lots of different types of journals to help you out with different things and lots of blogs. Basically lots of information on the 8Wise™ website that can help you develop your mental health and wellbeing, lots of free resources, plus the store for the books and plus a lot of extra information with regards to any additional services that I deliver such as the one to one work, the training and the online training and I’ve got some exciting news that I will tell you a little bit more about a little later on in this episode.
Today’s episode comes with one very simple question, is my environment making me sick. Is it. Is your environment making you sick. It’s a really important question. Our environments play such a huge role in our lives, and that’s why environmental wellness is one of the elements of the 8Wise™ model and it’s just not any of the elements, it is the first element of the new dimension, the external dimension.
So far we’ve had the foundation dimension where it’s healthy body, healthy mind, we’ve had the internal dimension which is all about knowing who you are through your spiritual wellness and stimulating your brain through intellectual wellness. Now we are venturing outside of ourselves and we are starting to interact with the world around us and environmental wellness plays a huge role in that.
So before we start anything, I just want to do a quick self-reflection activity with you. You can write this down if you want, or you can just do it as a thinking activity, but I just want you to think about these basic questions. Take a moment to think about your favourite place. What is your favourite place, where is your favourite place? Think about it in detail. What does it look like, what does it smell like, where is it, what size is it? Think about all the details that link to it being your favourite place. As I said, you can jot them down or you can do this in your head, whatever works for you, but I want you to think about your favourite place. When you’ve done that, I then want you to move to the next question, which is to think about your least favourite place. Where is your least favourite place to spend time or to go, what is it about that place, what does it look like, what does it smell like, what does it feel like, how does it make you feel, what emotions does it trigger for you. Really think about it in detail. What is it that makes it your least favourite place and then when you’ve got this lovely understanding of your favourite place and your least favourite place, I want you to answer question three. Question three is how different from each other are these two places and it’s in that difference that you start to understand what environmental wellness is to you. Because environmental wellness is about developing and spending time, and spending quality time, in the environments that bring out the best in you. The environments that make you feel safe, the environments that make you feel secure and the environments that keep you healthy.
Environment plays a huge, huge role in our overall wellness spectrum and a lot of the time it’s the environments we spend time in that can trigger our mental health spirals because it can trigger so many different memories. I’m going on about Covid again and again and again, I know it’s the most recent experience that we’ve all had together and again, when you look at, when we went into lockdown the fact we were locked down in these environments really triggered a lot of us. For some of us we loved it. If you’re an introvert and you have this lovely, cosy home space that you feel safe and secure in, you had brilliant environmental wellness.
What if you didn’t. What if your environment is where your trauma was, what if you were living with people in an environment that caused you trauma, what if it was an unhealthy environment, what if you were living in a one bed flat that had lots of damp in it so it’s not a healthy environment for you to spend time in. What if you were living in a shared house and you were almost forced to live in your bedroom that whole time, what if it was just unsafe in general, whether it be the surroundings or who was in it with you. Our environmental wellness is absolutely fundamental with regards to our mental health and so it’s really important that we understand what environments bring out the best in us, which ones we like, which ones we don’t like, the reasons between them and how we can make changes to the environments we’re in to make sure they are the best ones for us, and they bring out the best for us.
So, as I said, environmental wellness is the first element of the external dimension. This is all about everything that happens outside of us. But what happens in the external world is it triggers the responses of us in the internal world and some of the first things it starts to trigger is safety and security. I want you to think about that, I want you to think about the environments that you are now in and the ones that you spend most time in. Do they make you feel safe, I mean do you actually feel safe in them, and I don’t just mean from the health and safety perspective, I mean do they bring out the best in you, do they allow you to be yourself, your true authentic self. Do you feel safe being yourself and interacting with them the way that you need to interact with them, and I want you to think about them with regards to your security, do they make you feel secure within them. Again, are they healthy and safety secure for you, but actually are they secure in that they bring in the best of you, they bring in the best of you and they protect you from other elements that are not so great for you. Safety and security are really crucial for a human being from the human species.
If any of you have ever done any form of psychology or sociology or personal development work, there’s no doubt you’ve come across the wonderful Maslow in his hierarchy of needs and if you look at hierarchy of needs with regards to Maslow, safety and security is ultimately the number one for all humans. It’s what we’re aspiring for. It’s why having a roof over our head is so important because we feel safe when we have accommodation, we have somewhere to live. It’s why having a job is so important because we feel safe when we can provide for ourselves, and we can create our own security.
So really think about your home environment, your work environment, the environments you might have hobbies in, the other environments you might spend quality time in and the wider environment as well. Nature’s environment. Do you feel safe in them, do you feel secure in them, do they bring out the best in you and if the answer is no, they do not, then you know this is something you need to work on and you need to work on it sooner rather than later. Because when we’ve had a really bad day, we need to know that there’s an environment out there that will help us to reboot, will help us rest will help us relax, will help us get rid of the day, will just make us feel safe and secure and comfortable and let us get back to being our great selves again. What we’re really looking for is an environment that provides us great comfort and that doesn’t mean comfort in just a physical form, it also means it from a psychological comfort as well.
So have a look or have a think about your home environment, for example, is it comfortable and by that, is it physically comfortable, does it have the things that you need in it, does it provide you with the comfort of, do you have that sofa or do you have that chair that is comfortable, that you can relax in, is your bed relaxing. Then look at it from a psychological comfort perspective as well. Are you that person who looks around the room and it actually makes you feel worse, does it make you feel tired, does it make you feel lethargic, does it put you in a bad mood. Are you that person who keeps saying I’m going to do this and I’m going to do that to the house or the home and it never ever gets done so you are just surrounded by unfinished jobs that make you feel really bad about yourself and what you’re doing and where your life is. Are you going home every day and feeling comfortable. If the answer is yes, then kudos to you my friend, good for you, you’re onto a winner. If it doesn’t, and if it’s not bringing out the best in you, be really honest with yourself, why. What needs to change and look at it from the perspective of what can you change and always go with the low hanging fruit with regards to change within the home or in the comfort areas within our environments. Is it that which is in total chaos, are you a clutter fiend, are you that person that you don’t just have the cluttery drawer, its every drawer the same, there’s things all over the place and you can’t relax. This is very common. Clutter has a big impact on us, that whole concept of cluttered environment, cluttered mind when you can’t see straight, because you can’t see everything around you and our space feels cluttered and it starts to affect us on a psychological basis. Is that you, is that what your environment’s doing for you because if it is, you know what I’m going to say people, you know what you’ve got to do, you know you’ve got to start decluttering and start watching and learning about from all those decluttering Kings and Queens around the world who are happy to share their organization tools with you in order for you to get a clutter free living space.
So is clutter your issue? If it is, declutter. Random things, like, is it the wrong colour for you, can you change the colour scheme, can you change bits and pieces in it that make it comfortable for you, because we are creatures, we’re animals that built on our senses does it stimulate your senses, does your safe space stimulate your senses and by that I mean, does it look a way that stimulates you in a way that makes you happy. Does it smell stimulating to you, does it feel stimulating, are you surrounded by textures that bring out the best in you. Have a think of it on that level. Is it comfortable. So is it comfortable physically and is it comfortable psychologically. Have a think of your environments, have a think of your home environment, have a think of the environments that you spend the most time in because it’s not just about home, it’s about work as well. Look at your environment and be really honest with yourself, do you need to make changes. Can you make changes to the low hanging fruit within your environments that’s going to make it better so it stimulates your senses, so you can calm down in it, so you can relax in it.
So for example, when my mental health was at its worst, I didn’t feel like I had a safe space. We’d moved into a new house and it needed a lot of work so what I did is I went and bought myself a very specific chair. It’s a green wing backed chair and I got it from Ikea, and I chose green because green is my favourite colour, number one, there you go, a little bit of inside information but also green is the colour of tranquillity. So when I was having my insomnia nights or I was having really stressful days where I was feeling at my lowest, what I would do is I would go and take myself off to my green chair and my green chair was in a room that had lovely, bright light coming into it, I could see greenery outside. There was also greenery inside, it was my safe space and I created that safe space. I have that green chair still to this day, even when I’ve moved house, I’ve brought it with me. Wherever I go my green chair comes with me and that creates a special environment for me in every environment that I’m in. So no matter how chaotic the house might be, or how my life might be, when I’m sat in my green chair, I go, okay this is a safe space for me, I feel safe, I feel secure, I can relax and now I can think straight and that helps me resolve other issues as well.
But one of the big things when I was experiencing my own mental health issues was not just about the home, it goes bigger than that, it gets really big when it comes to environmental wellness. You’ve got to think about your preferences in life on a big scale. I had to start really simply with, what are my preferred environments, am I an indoors person or am I an outdoors person because if I’m an outdoors person and I’m never spending any time outdoors then of course I’m not going to be feeling well enough. I’m not going to be feeling at my best, I’m not going to be feeling motivated to want to interact with the world and through my own self-reflection, what I identified for myself was that I, you may have picked up on it, I need greenery and I mean real greenery.
I was born in Liverpool, but I grew up in Somerset and I grew up in a town called Chard, so hello anybody who’s listening from Chard or used to live in Chard, hello. Chards a pretty awesome place really. It’s in the middle of the countryside, so its right at the bottom of Somerset, it’s in the countryside, but it’s right on the border of Devon and Dorset.
Now, this is something that I took for granted when I was younger and I think we all do when we are young, we take for granted the environments that we’re in and the brilliance of some of those environments. So I grew up with greenery, with fields around me, lots of farmers’ fields, lots of forest walks and then I was really close to local beaches as well. I was close to the Devon and Dorset coastlines, 15 minutes away and one of my favourite places in the world Is Lyme Regis and when I go there I just feel alive, it’s the most amazing feeling for me.
When my mental health was really bad, I had to start thinking about these things and so I had to think about, okay, well, do I have these places on my doorstep, is one of the reasons my mental health is taking such a dip right now is because I’m not interacting with the environments that bring out the best in me. The answer to this was yes. So I really had to start looking from an environmental perspective of what is the best place for me, what does bring out the best for me and a chair can’t resolve all my issues. I started to look at my preferences and I went from the basics of, okay, I now know I like to be outdoors. Ultimately, I’m an outdoor person, I’m a home bird to a certain degree on some levels, but really I really like to be outdoors and I like to be out in the elements. So not having access to all of those wonderful different environments outdoors was bothering me. So I suddenly had to think about regions and am I living in the right area, am I living in the right region and when I know what the right region is for me, am I living in the right area within that region, am I living on the right street within that area, am I living in the right type of house and it had to go from that level of, oh my God, what do I really want, how do I really want to interact with environments that bring out the best in me and what changes do I have to make. What I also had to look at from a preferences perspective is did I have access not only to the right region, but did I have access to the right communities within the environments because community plays a huge role with regards to our environment.
Did I have the best home for me, was my workspace working for me, did I have access to the physical environment that I needed and at that time, when I really did the self-reflection piece, the answer was no. As beautiful as Warwickshire is, and it is a stunning place, absolutely stunning, it didn’t give me what I needed. There’s no water. It was nowhere near water. So there’s nowhere near a coastal. I couldn’t access lots of the different environments that I wanted and there wasn’t a community there for me, wonderful people in Warwickshire and I’m so grateful for every single person I met, but I needed a certain type of community. When me and my husband talked through this, we talked through how things were affecting us, what we realized is we needed to go back to Liverpool because Liverpool provided us with all of that.
We chose to live in south Liverpool, so it was a very leafy area, we’ve got the river really nearby and we’re close to north Wales, we’re close to the Peaks, we’re close enough to the Lake District so we can get a bit of everything that we want as well. As soon as I moved back, my mental health started to really improve and that’s because I was able to get out and about every day and start interacting with the environments that worked for me.
What I also learned is that if I want my home to be really safe and secure, I had to start bringing those environments in as well. So it’s important for me to have plants and it’s important for me to have greenery and it’s important that when I look out my windows, I can see greenery. I had to get my garden done straight away and I had to get my front garden done so on those really tough days, if my green chair isn’t doing it for me, there’s other spaces that I can have, and I can really bring myself back around with my environmental wellness by being in the right environments.
Now, not everybody has those luxuries and I appreciate not everybody has those luxuries so you have to work with what you’ve got. Back in the early days I just had to have my chair, a chair and a blanket that somebody had crocheted for me, my friend Deborah, hello Deborah if you’re listening. She crocheted me this beautiful blanket that was all the different shades of green and I used to sit there, as I said, in my green chair with my green blanket, when I had nothing else. Now I have a little bit more, but even in my office, I have to have my plants there, I need to have my plants there, I need certain colours in there that lift me and make it a safer and more secure environment for me. So that’s what I pretty much advise you guys to do. I’d have a think about it. Remember, you are part of nature, you are an animal, therefore you are part of nature. Spending time with nature is really important for your mental health and wellbeing and because it stimulates your environmental wellness. So work out for yourself, are you a country girl at heart like I am. Do you want to be near the water, do you want to be near greenery. Are you a suburbia person, are you an urban person, do you love the concrete jungles. What environment nature wise, outdoor environment brings out the best in you and are you spending enough quality time in them to really get the best out of yourself because if you are not, if you’ve done your evaluation on environmental wellness and you’ve done it and you didn’t understand it and now you have a better understanding of it, redo it and ask yourself that very question. Are my environments bringing out the best in me and am I interacting with the right environments for me. It doesn’t just stop there with regards to creating the environments or spending time in nature’s environments, we’ve also got to look at how we can make the environments we are in as healthy as possible and this is about looking after your environment as well, because if it’s healthy for us, it’s probably going to be healthy for our environments as well.
This is about looking at how much chemical use you have within the environments you’re in. It’s about are you looking after this planet with regards to the different ways that you interact with your own environment. Are you recycling, are you recycling all the produce and products in your home so that it looks after your home internally and looks after the planet externally. Are you using products at home that are damaging your environment through polluting your own air, are you using excessive chemicals, are they affecting your respiratory system, are they affecting your skin. Are they affecting these things you don’t really think about and actually having a negative effect on your overall health. This is where environmental wellness links into your physical wellness as well.
Again, all of these elements always interlink somewhere. So, for me, environmental wellness is really about understanding yourself well enough to know what makes me feel safe and secure. Can I get that from the environments I spend quality time in. Can I make them as comfortable as possible for me making sure they stimulate my senses, making sure they can make me feel relaxed, that I can reboot myself on a really tough day, that they bring out the best in me. Am I spending the time in nature’s environments that work for me, am I getting my green, am I getting my fresh air, am I feeling the wind on the face sometimes. Am I doing all of those things. Am I really interacting with my environments in the best way I can and then when I’ve created these amazing environments for myself, am I keeping them healthy or have I got this wonderful looking space that really is killing me slowly because I’ve brought in all of these terrible chemicals that are really affecting my health overall and affecting my function.
That’s how your mental health and wellbeing is affected when it comes to environmental wellness. If you want to live the 8Wise™ Way and develop this healthier, happier mind and have a better quality of life, you’ve got to look at your external dimension and you’ve got to look at it with regards to environmental wellness. Are they safe, are they secure, do they bring out the best in me, am I accessing the ones that do bring out the best in me and when I know what my preferred environments are, am I making sure they stay healthy for me so that they don’t cause me health conditions or cause me any issues with my overall mental health as well.
So I’d recommend you definitely do a piece of work on that. Really think about that and understand yourself with regards to the house you live in, the street you live in, where you work. Are you near the ocean, are you near greenery, are you need suburbia. All of those things, have a really good think about it and ask yourself that question is my environment making me sick. Whether that be physically sick or mentally sick because it’s damaging your health, whether that be mental health or physical health, and it’s not bringing out the best in you. Because there’s no point in doing all of this amazing work of getting a really good, strong foundation of health through emotional wellness and physical wellness and there’s no point doing all this internal work and really understanding who you are and what you want and keeping yourself stimulated, if then actually you’re in environments that work against all of that great work you’ve done and they bring you down and they make you feel bad about yourself and they make you feel terrible and you can’t be at your best in them. If that’s the case, you need to change it and you need to change your environmental wellness. So again, if you are using the book, you can use pages 152 and 251 to work all this out for yourself.
You can go online. If you don’t like writing in your book, go online to my website and download all of those free downloadable print offs that you can work through in the same way and that means you don’t have to damage your book and your book can stay pretty and nice, but you can still get all the tools that you need. It is, as I said, it’s about building that tool belt to help you live the 8Wise™ Way for better mental health and wellbeing, a healthier, happier mind and a better quality of life and I think it’s fair to say environmental wellness is a crucial, crucial role in that.
So that’s your first element of the external dimension of the 8Wise™ model. In our next episode, we’re going to talk about the second element of the external dimension, which is social wellness. So it’s all about the people in your lives and the relationships you’ve had and are going to have in the future as well.
So, thank you for listening. I hope this has been helpful. As I said, my name’s Kim Rutherford, I’m a psychotherapist, I’m an author and I developed the 8Wise™ model and I developed it to help combat my own mental health issues but my passion now really is to help others combat their issues too, so that you can live the 8Wise™ Way, so you can protect your mental health in the long term and learn to overcome any challenges that you might be experiencing. Better mental health and better wellbeing and, as I said, if you want more information about the 8Wise™ model, please head to my website www.8wise.co.uk.
You can get the book 8Wise™ Ways to a Healthier, Happier Mind, the journal, the planner and the pocketbook are all available to you as well. If you are developing goals for yourself around 8Wise™ and you are creating your action plans, then again, please feel free to sign up for my newsletter which is on the website, or follow me on any of the socials and I’m on all the usual ones, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and you can usually find me @8Wise something, so it’s @8WiseKim, @8WiseTherapy or @8Wise and there, what I do is I share with you daily a different tip linked to a different element so it helps you to start developing your full wellness spectrum using the 8Wise™ methodology straight away.
So again, if this is your first episode, thank you so much for joining me, I hope this has been useful to you. Please go back and check out episodes one to five as well. They’ll tell you so much more about the other elements of the model as well. If you want to get the book that you can work along with this, check out the website, check out my socials and if you’ve got any questions or queries about any of this, please, please, please feel free to get in touch with me.
Now, I have some exciting news that in, it will be the end of September/early October, I am going to be launching the 12 module 8Wise™ program where you can come and work with me and a group of people and it’s almost like a therapeutic coaching session in group format, and you will go through 12 modules that will really, really hone in on your 8Wise™ spectrum and developing your 8Wise™ spectrum, so understanding what your mental health is like, understanding what your wellbeing is like and being able to use the model in a lot more detail. Facilitated by myself, you’ll get access to me from a coaching perspective and from a therapy perspective, you’ll get access to me in this group environment and we can get you to where you want to be. So keep an eye out for that. I’ll give you more information in the next episode, it’ll be an online platform. It’ll be, as I said, 12 separate modules that lead you to be able to Live the 8Wise™ Way for better mental health and wellbeing, for a healthier, happier mind, and overall a better quality of life.
So thank you very much for joining me. I hope you found this one useful. I look forward to seeing you next time when we talk about social wellness. Until then take care of yourselves.
Thank you very much and bye for now.
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