High-quality natural spaces inevitably foster good health and environmental wellness. Nature itself is the best gift planet gave us to improve our physical, emotional, and spiritual wellness. While an urban environment can dramatically decrease our physical and emotional wellness through pollution, traffic, noises, etc. There is a strong connection between the environment we live in and our environmental wellness.
Over the years, I interacted with all type of environments, from large cities to small towns, suburban villages, and rural areas. You can read my life-journey for an empowering and motivating story about following your dreams.
I want to share with you some of the insights I gathered over the years regarding the quality of life in those different environments, and how to determine the best place to live for the best quality of life you deserve.
Big city, small suburb, or rural environment?
Physical and social aspects of the place we spend most of our time can dramatically change the way we see the world. And this is one of the main factors that triggers anxiety, depression, or other mental health challenges.
City living for environmental wellness
When you live in a city, there are many advantages. You have a plentitude of opportunities, easy access to all services (health, education, security, etc.), and many other amenities. You can find in no other place more entertainment and cultural diversity and so many opportunities to meet new people.
However, living in a city can have some major drawbacks. The air pollution can affect your health significantly. Noises from sirens, traffic, other people on the street, or even your neighbors in the flat above can create issues of physical and mental health. And living in constant hurry and wasting significant amounts of time in traffic can increase your stress level to unhealthy levels.
Big city or small towns – which is better for environmental wellness?
I currently live in a 2 million city, Bucharest. I love the fact that I have everything in walking distance. But I hate the quality of air. And the fact that from my window I only see cars and other blocks. At the same time, the closest park to me is 30 minutes walking time away. Which is quite a significant distance for a short trip to nature. I am grateful to the small cherry tree in front of my window for providing me the sight of a small piece of nature.
However, I grew up as a teenager in a small Romanian town, with only 150,000 inhabitants. And lived for several months in other small towns from Germany and Spain. Nature was easier to find in this place, and the noises were not so loud. And social interaction was easier. However, the air pollution was still present. Traffic was still an issue. And there were not so many entertainment opportunities compared to what I have now in Bucharest.
Putting everything in balance, for me the small town is a winner. The rhythm of life is less stressful, and the environment is greener. And all those are significant factors affecting my wellness.
Suburban living for environmental wellness
Most peoples in the developed countries now live in suburban environments. The possibility of getting a house with a garden for the family is extremely attractive for most people. Nature is nearby. It is a family friendly environment with other families and possible friends as neighbours. And the living space is significantly larger compared with the city.
However, most suburban areas are car dependent, as public transport is not very well developed. While the jobs are still in the city. So daily commuting by car is a must. Also, the quality of services is not as high as in the city. And sometimes there are no schools and hospitals inside the suburb.
Living in a suburb can seem like the perfect middle point between urban and rural to improve your environmental wellness. More living space and closeness to nature are received in return for a slightly longer distance to city. However, the dream is only on the surface, as when living in suburban area you are actually spending all the free time you have in traffic, commuting back and forth from the city. Time to work in the garden or play with your dog on the lawn is a faraway dream after a few hours lost in traffic each day.
I lived in a suburb for a short period of the time, and it was the period in which I had no time at all for socializing or spending time outside in the nature. Also, even a trip to the supermarket on a Sunday morning increase my stress level significantly because of the time wasted in traffic.
Rural living for environmental wellness
Wide open spaces, abundant vegetation, silence, tranquility, close to nature lifestyle. These are some of the reasons why people move to rural areas. Working on your garden without worrying about traffic, noise, or neighbors can be a dream come true to some. The rhythm of life is slower, and the solitude may be a hidden treasure.
Although, it may seem like a dream come true for those people that love silence and nature, it actually has many drawbacks too. A spontaneous quick walk to a restaurant is impossible. Same as visiting a doctor. Or finding a drug store. Or even sending children to school. A long trip is necessary for each service you need and that inside the city is within walking distance. Also, internet and cell phone services may be limited. So, the stress cause by noise, pollution, and always in a hurry life from the city is replaced by the constant fear of having an emergency and being too far away from any helping facility.
I spent significant amounts of time with my grandparents in the countryside, and I love the silence, natural spaces abundance, and slow rhythm. I feel like when I am in a rural environment I am more in touch with my soul and the days are much longer. It was always a great opportunity for improving my environmental wellness by working in the garden and spending time reading in nature. However, even though I retreat myself there sometimes, I could never move there permanently because of the lack of things to do. I can only live in a rural area for a month from time to time, to take a break from the chaos of the city.
How to recognize which environment is the best for your wellness
Whether you reside in an urban, suburban, or rural environment, you must ask yourself what truly makes you happy. Also, if you find out that you are unhappy most of the time, consider the fact that may be time for a change. A temporary change of scenery might make a difference, and maybe you will find this way the environment in which your happiness belongs. When deciding in which environment to live in for improved wellness, consider the fact that some people thrive in places that would leave others depressed and hopeless.
How to improve your environmental wellness without relocating
There are some small things you can do to improve the place you live in regardless of its location. So, if you feel constantly stressed by your environment and want to improve your wellness, try making some small changes as the ones mentioned below.
- Increase natural light to your room or office.
- Use window blinds that can be pulled all the way down at night.
- Use bright or light colors in the space around you, as colors can significantly affect your mood.
- Bring nature in your proximity through potted plants, a tiny herb garden, or fresh flowers. Even a photo of nature can make a difference.
- Declutter and organize the space around you.
- Keep a bottle of essential oil nearby to sniff when you need to shift your mood.
- Use music and white noises to improve your concentration and wellbeing.
- Do not use your bed for both work and sleeping.
Urban living can be bad for your mental health. Same as suburban living. Or rural living. You must take the time to figure for yourself if your current environment is having more a positive or a negative effect on your wellness. For further reading, I find this article from The Guardian about how the brain of people living in rural or environment setting can differ very interesting.
Which environmental type do you think is best for you and why? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below. And do not forget to subscribe for more wellness articles.
Just remember that each person is unique and what might be perfect for one, might be a depression trigger for another. Take the time to discover yourself and transform your environment for your own wellbeing.
And in case you are struggling with any mental issues cause by your environment, always seek specialized medical help.