To reenchant nature is not merely to gain a new perspective for its integrity and well-being; it is to throw open the doors to a deeper level of existence.
Alister E. McGrath

Environmental Well-being: Creating Deeper Connection with Our Surroundings 

Back to Health and Well-being
Posted By Jennifer S. Pitts, Ph.D. 5/5/2016
Health is influenced by our experience with our environment through exposure, support, and how we make decisions. Environmental factors are associated with varying levels of personal control and are an important consideration for positive individual health. There are at least four levels of environment that can impact health and well-being: 

  • The workplace environment
  • The home environment
  • The neighborhood and community environment
  • The natural environment

The workplace environment encompasses the physical built environment of workplaces (facilities, workstations, break areas, quiet rooms, outdoor space), health-supporting policies (nonsmoking campus, flexible work schedules), benefits and practices of employers (on-site physical activity areas, day-care services), safety practices (protective equipment, emergency procedures), and other workplace factors (noise level, air quality). This also includes the physical environment of home-based and other remote workers.

The home environment includes the physical aspects of the home (air quality, lead exposure, sounds, pollution), safety (secure and protected location), and support (loving and nurturing family life, encouragement for healthy living).

The neighborhood and community environment comprises a wide range of factors in the vicinity where people live, including access to community resources, community centers, health care, parks and shared green space, and access to grocery stores with fresh produce instead of only fast food or convenience stores. Other considerations include walk-ability and bike-ability, clean air, safe drinking water, quality of schools, public safety, low crime rates, transportation, roads and infrastructure, and population density.

Each of these is related to some degree to occupational health, financial health, and many other dimensions of health and well-being. When a person’s occupation doesn’t provide a comfortable income, it will limit which neighborhood and community he or she can live in. If the workplace is not safe and supportive of health and well-being (an unhealthy culture and environment), it can often negatively impact health. 
Our environments can either enhance or hinder our ability to make decisions that lead to health and thriving. Some public-health efforts, such as Healthy People 2020, are designed to identify ways to create physical and social environments that promote good health for all, through programs, practices, and policies. However, individual choices are critical to achieving a thriving way of life.