Lifestyle

Changing Your Environment to Promote Healthy Habits

Changing Your Environment to Promote Healthy Habits

In our quest for a healthier lifestyle, the focus often leans heavily towards our diet and physical activity levels. However, the environments where we spend our time, such as our homes, offices, and even digital spaces, play a crucial role in shaping our habits. By tweaking our surroundings, we can create a positive environment for healthy habits to thrive, and one in which bad habits are out of reach.

Environmental triggers

As we discussed in our article on ‘The Habit Cycle’, each day our behaviours are influenced by the environment around us through cues that trigger our habits and choices. These triggers can be as simple as seeing a fruit bowl on the kitchen counter, which can prompt us to choose a healthy snack, or as complex as the layout of our living room, which might encourage sedentary behaviour by making the television the inviting focus point. By understanding how our surroundings impact our behaviour, we can strategically adjust them to foster better habits and discourage unhealthy ones.

For example, suppose you're trying to eat healthier and cut down on processed snacks. In this scenario, you might start by making unhealthy snacks less accessible; store them on higher shelves and out of sight, or don’t have them in the house at all - if they offer no health benefit to you, then it will be the same case for other people in the household. You can also rearrange the kitchen so that healthy snacks are on show and easily accessible, again triggering you to make healthier choices sub-consciously.

How to reshape your environment 

To transform your environment into one that promotes healthy habits, here are some useful tips to help optimise your surroundings:

  • Organise your space: Clutter can lead to stress and chaos, which often results in poor food choices and a lack of motivation to exercise and cook healthy meals. By keeping your living and workspaces organised, you're more likely to feel in control and motivated to maintain other healthy habits.
  • Healthy spaces: Creating a dedicated space for healthy behaviours further promotes good habits. Even if it’s a small corner with a yoga mat and resistance bands, it can make it much easier and appealing to jump into physical activity than if you had to set it up first. Similarly, you could establish a specific spot for mindful eating away from distractions like the TV or computer.
  • Visual cues and triggers: Place visual reminders around your environment that prompt you to engage in healthy behaviour. A water bottle on your desk reminds you to stay hydrated, while a meal planner on your fridge helps hold you accountable to healthy balanced choices for the week.
  • Digital environments: Just as physical spaces influence habits, so do digital ones. Organise your digital devices to reduce distractions and promote productivity and relaxation. Use apps that track your health goals and limit time on social media or other less productive activities.
  • Lighting and work setup: Utilise natural light as much as possible, which can help improve mood and energy levels. Try to avoid working in dark spaces and where possible have a view to the outdoors.

Summary

Making your environment healthier doesn't mean significant changes; small and clever tweaks can really help. By arranging your space and digital environment to support your health goals, you make it easier to pick healthier options naturally. This way, staying healthy becomes more of a habit and less of a chore, and these good habits can stick with you long-term. The aim is to make healthy choices easy and appealing, whilst poor choices become difficult and less appealing.

August 31, 2023
Written by
Robbie Green
Reviewed by
Dr. Claudia Ashton

This link is accessed via the Roczen app