See yourself in your surroundings

We gain so much from our environment, so it only makes sense that we return the favor. Environmental wellness focuses on understanding your immediate social, built, and natural environment, understanding how they all interact, and seeing how your efforts can allow yourself and your community to prosper.

If you’re noticing any of the following, now might be the right time to begin improving your environmental wellness:

  • Decreased energy or motivation
  • Apathy
  • Constantly feeling tired
  • Tendency to get sick more easily
  • Increased allergic reactions to your environment
  • Living or engaging in the following:
    • Littering
    • Unsanitary living conditions
    • High percentage of air pollution
    • Smoking or exposure to secondhand smoke

Things to consider

The social environment refers to the vicinities we find ourselves engaging with others, like our classrooms, homes, workplaces, and online through social media.

What impacts the health of our social environment?

  • Peer pressure
  • Bullying or shaming
  • Defamation or character assassination
  • Presence of empathy or praise
  • Comments made about others

Here are a few ways you can improve the state of your social environment:

  • Be kind and open-minded. No one wants or needs a bully in their network. Be the person that brings positivity into their daily in-person and virtual interactions and encourages the betterment of their social environment.
  • Disconnect when needed. Being online for too long can diminish the value of interacting with the real world. So go outside, touch some grass, meet with friends, and find peace in your surroundings.

The built environment refers to the areas we personally design to accommodate our lifestyles, such as our bedrooms, office areas, vehicles, or residences.

What impacts the health of our built environment?

  • The organization, decoration, cleanliness, comfort, and utility of your space.

Here are a few ways you can improve the state of your built environment:

  • Do a deep clean. Sometimes our space can get musty and dusty without us realizing it. Twice a month, go through your entire living area and scrub, declutter and vacuum away, that way you can keep your space feeling clean and liveable.
  • Reorganize or redecorate. It’s easy to get bored or annoyed by our day-to-day surroundings after a certain point. Rearranging or sprucing up your living space with new decor can give it more vibrancy and put you in a better mindset to live and learn in.
  • Relocate. Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed by your current built environment and need to briefly step away from what you’re used to. Take time to identify areas on or around campus that you can decompress, relax, or study in when needed.

The natural environment refers to the macrocosm of naturally occurring living organisms and inanimate objects, as well as the air, land, and water they are sustained by.

What impacts the health of our natural environment?

  • Diminished quality and pollution of air, land, and water supply
  • Burning of fossil fuels
  • Climate change and global warming
  • Single-use and non-recyclable commodities

Here are a few ways you can improve the state of your natural environment:

  • Get involved. There are plenty of student organizations, volunteer opportunities, and IU-led initiatives – such as Sustain IU, Protect IU and the Environmental Resilience Institute – dedicated to promoting environmental awareness, education, and reform.
  • Go outside. Whether you just want to stroll through Dunn Meadow or the Arboretum, or want to explore the wilderness with IU Outdoor Adventures, taking a moment to appreciate the natural ecosystem can motivate you to implement more green practices into your everyday life.
  • Cut down on one-use items. Rather than contributing more waste to our ecosystem through disposables or non-recyclable items (e.g. plastic water bottles and kitchenware, packaging, razors, etc.), investing in reusable items can cut down on unnecessary by-products hurting our natural habitat. (And you’d save money in the long-term!)
  • Walk, bike, and use public transportation. Skipping the car-ride to work or class keeps traffic congestion lower, which in turn reduces air pollution from idling vehicles and could possibly reduce your commute time.

Your Environmental Wellness to-do lists

Check out these ideas provided by the Student Health Center's  Peer Health and Wellness Educators on what you can do to improve your environmental wellness and build resilience.

This week:

  • Clean your room, house, space, etc.
  • Take a walk in nature
  • Go to a new location on campus to study
  • Go offline for one day

This month: