Nature vs. Nurture: The power of your health bubble

05.12.16 |

Our health is within our control

The debate between nature and nurture has raged for decades. One side argues that our lives—our health, our social behaviors, and so on—are largely predetermined by factors beyond our control like our genetics. The other side argues that how we are raised and the people around us are the key determining factors.

The reality is somewhere in between. Genetics will always be a force in our lives, but the good news is that a significant portion of our health is a result of elements that we can potentially control. We are not doomed (or saved) by our genetics. The choices we make and the people we surround ourselves with can lead us down the path to Optimal Health.

This is great news! Your fate is not sealed! You can choose to create health!

Your health bubble

Beyond the typical decisions of eating the right foods and making regular exercise a part of your daily life, the Habits of Health system looks at the bigger picture of health. We know that diet plans and exercise programs fail because they fail to look at the life you have outside of the kitchen or outside of the gym. Our approach looks at the fundamental programming that influences your habits and incorporates robust behavioral support.

We call this your “health bubble.”

In many cases, the choices you make are influenced by a range of stimuli, which includes your physical environment and the people that populate it.

If you are surrounded by people that make healthy decisions, you are more likely to make healthy decisions yourself. The inverse is also true. We also know that physical factors influence your decision making and mental outlook as well. For example, we know that certain colors are more soothing than others (which is why we recommend using blues in your bedroom and avoiding dim light to help prevent overeating). Studies have found that living around more trees leads to better health outcomes. We have also known for some time that sunlight improves mood and potentially eases depression systems.

A new study published in Frontiers in Psychology goes as far as to suggest that your physical environment might play a big role in who you are. The environment we create around us—our individual homes, our workplaces, our cities—could support or limit our well-being. The study notes that the physical environments that nurtured us at children likely have a significant impact on our development, which is worth noting for the readers that are also parents, but your present environment matters too.
The researchers told PsyPost that “Where we are, might mould who we are, but given our ability to shape the environment, we can play an active role in the development of the self.”

Think about that.

Healthy environments

If you want to be a healthier person, placing yourself in a healthier environment can help you to rewire some of the deeply rooted behaviors that are holding you back. The advantage of working on your health bubble is that a handful of big choices will stick around for a long time. Rearranging your home office to put your desk closer to a window will be a lot of work on one day, but that extra sunlight won’t go away any time soon. Moving closer to a park is a big choice, but if you put a big open space within walking distance, finding an excuse to go for a walk won’t be as hard. Removing yourself from negative influences might be painful at first, but the return you get in physical and mental health will be well worth it in the end.

And these are just some ideas. The Habits of Health are full of many more. Look at the environment surrounding you. What small improvements can you make today that will support your health goals?