For most people, their daily habits are largely invisible. Since these behaviors are automatic by nature, they occur without conscious thought. We don’t really think about the mechanics of putting our cars in gear and backing out of the driveway. We don’t have to remember the steps of tying our shoelaces. When we do things over and over, whether they are healthy choices or not, our automatic programming takes the wheel so we don’t have to waste brainpower on tedious tasks.
Just as our own behaviors can be invisible to us, other influences on our health can be invisible as well, and the more we can become mindful and intentional about the automatic aspects of our lives, the more power we have over our journeys.
Our surroundings, for example, impact the choices we make each day, but the average person doesn’t see or recognize that this happens. You might not realize that where you put your television is hurting your sleep. You might not see that you feel sick and irritable because your air filters need changed. Instead, you live with the consequences, and those consequences can add up to big frustrating obstacles over time.
In Dr. A’s Habits of Health, we explore several ways to build Habits of Healthy Surroundings, but these basics tips are a good start:
- Remove all of the unhealthy food from your home. This won’t eliminate your urge to snack, but if a pack of cookies is not within easy reach, you give yourself extra time to make a healthier choice instead.
- Take the television out of your bedroom. Screens have become ubiquitous in all areas of our lives, and they are ruining our sleep. If you have a television in your bedroom, you are more likely to watch it late into the night, and the blue light in addition to the mental stimulation can disrupt your circadian rhythm. Move it out and move in a few good books instead.
- Hang your vision or dream board someplace prominent. A vision board (or a dream board as it is sometimes referred to) is a collage of images that represent your goals and your desires. In this case, it should include a component of your health and perhaps your personal or professional goals. If you put this in a place you see each day, you can mentally center yourself around what matters most to you.
- Cover the basics of optimizing your home. Changing air filters and checking the batteries in your smoke detectors might sound like obvious tasks, but too many people overlook these simple choices. Cleaner air is better for your immune system, and basic safety precautions are always a worthwhile choice for you and your family. While you’re at it, roll up the blinds to let in more sunlight.
- Reflect on the people surrounding you. We often think of our surroundings as physical things, but the people we talk to on a daily basis influence us as well. Is that Facebook group message good for your mental wellbeing? Is that friend who encourages you to have a few extra drinks looking out for your best interests? These might not be simple answers, but you should take the time to be more aware of how the people around you bring you up or bring you down.
Again, your surroundings can be a complex web of factors. You might not be able to transform your home and your social circle overnight, but you do have the power to start making small changes today. Those small choices matter, and they can come together to create big wins for your health goals.