Guest Writer for Wake Up World
Are you living in a toxic environment?
Feeling lost, depressed, alone, surrounded by negative people, or maybe even lacking in purpose? Maybe you’re often feeling tired and anxious with unexplained aches and pains.
It could be that you’re stuck in a toxic environment that is making you stagnate. You can’t grow in the way you want to, and you feel like you’re almost going backwards. Perhaps you even feel weak and ineffectual at work, home, or in your relationships. Don’t worry! You are not alone. So many people go through the same problems, but it’s not the problem that is the issue. It’s how you deal with your problems. The power is in your hands.
I was in your shoes once. I am a trained pharmacist, born and raised in the UK, and I believed in the science and powers of Western medicine. You can read my full story here! But, after a long bout of stress, I was diagnosed with depression and chronic Ulcerative Colitis and was told there was nothing I could do about it. I even struggled with suicidal thoughts.
At that point of total helplessness with a condition I thought I would need to take medication for my entire life, I knew I had to get out of this lifestyle. I chose the road less traveled by and traded my traditional Western environment which was making me ill, for a whole new one, which cured me completely of both depression and Ulcerative Colitis!
The Power of Our Environment
We know that we are a product of the nature and nurture we have received in our lives. But, many do not realize the power our nurture (our environment) has on us. Our emotions, our habits, our behaviours, our upbringing, living conditions, and even our own thoughts directly impact our body.
Your mind is like the operating system which gets programmed over time by your own environment and experiences. So if your environment is unhealthy or toxic, your mind will reflect that, and in turn, your brain will signal your body there is a threat in the environment.
This article from Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health discusses the biology of emotion and states, “Serious, sustained stress or fear can alter biological systems in a way that, over time, adds up to “wear and tear” and, eventually, illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.”
People take vacations to feel restored and refreshed. But, what if your life could always restore and refresh you? This is where your environment comes in. If your mind is a product of your life experiences and environment, and the relationship of your body with it, then think of the beautiful changes your mind and body would experience with a restorative, non-toxic lifestyle.
How Do You Know If You’re Living in a Toxic Environment?
One of the easiest ways to begin to reprogram your mind and your life when it gets cluttered or toxic is to change your actual physical environment. It’s why I left the U.K. and now live around other wellness entrepreneurs in Thailand. But how do you know if you’re in a toxic environment and need to make some changes?
Life will always have its ups and downs, and things can never be perfect 100% of the time, but toxic is when your own environment is draining you of energy, purpose and hope. And that will take a toll on your physical body.
You may get depressed, have trouble sleeping, go through drastic mood swings, feel like there’s nothing to live for, or want to isolate yourself socially. You may even develop stress-related physical problems such as ulcers or IBS. You find yourself trying to “avoid your own life’ by watching too much TV, sitting on the couch all day, binge-drinking or binge-eating unhealthy foods.
Or maybe you’re finding that you’re giving so much in relationships but not getting anything in return. Your friends or partner aren’t there for you, and there are vicious cycles in place.
Wherever your toxicity lies, you have the power to make changes to help find a new and better, more restorative environment for yourself!
How Do I Find the Right Environment?
Since healing myself through natural methods, I have a whole new outlook on the role of medicine on our lives. We can be our own medicine in many ways. It’s all about knowing what to do and where to look.
Not everyone has the ability or opportunity like I did to be able to completely physically relocate environments. I moved from England to Thailand, and I went for a drastic change in location and culture. But, if that’s not a possibility for you or if that’s not necessary, there are plenty of other ways to find your right environment. You can create a better environment in your own current environment.
Clean out your mental clutter
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in work, family, or whatever it may be, that we forget about our mental states. Then our physical body feels the consequences. Take time to reflect daily upon your life.
I’ve learned to use meditation as a wonderful healing tool that not only helped me reduce my stress, but it also gave me beautiful clarity. I created a meditation company that focuses on breathing techniques for solving a number of health problems: SOMA Breath.
Find a way of meditation that works for you. By cleaning out your mental clutter, you can give your body that peace it’s been so craving as well as identify what areas of your life are in need of repair.
Take a hard look at your relationships
Relationships are tough, and they will always have flaws. But when you’re in a relationship that is sucking the lifeblood out of you, then changes need to be made. Whether it’s a significant other or a friendship or family member, it’s important to take the time to see if these toxic problems can be worked out.
Maybe it’s time for counseling. Maybe it’s time to part ways. Or maybe it’s just time to let some things go. Whatever the solution to your problem, make the change. Relationships are the most important part of our lives, and if we are stuck in one or even many toxic ones, we can’t be who we are meant to be: happy and healthy.
Find your purpose
One of the tenets of happiness is feeling like you have a purpose or something to work towards or live for. Many people find that purpose in the workplace. They enjoy the routine, and they love what they do.
Unfortunately, that isn’t always possible for people to find a job that they love to do and get paid doing it. But, if you have something you enjoy doing and that fulfills you, why not get involved with it? Think about ways you can feel purposeful in your life, whether at work, at home, or through outside activities.
Our universe is a delicate balance and so are our bodies. If something gets out of place or is out or order, we feel the dis-order. Balance is finding a middle ground between work and “play” or relaxation. Too much of one or the other will create a disharmony.
Balance is physical, emotional, and social. Find a balanced state and don’t overdo it in all of these areas, and you will feel more at peace and ordered.
Look at your own habits
Toxicity can also come from your own habits. Of course, our habits and lifestyle are affected by outside factors (it can be a vicious cycle!), but it’s important to reflect on your own choices to figure out which can be causing you both physical and psychological pain.
Are you getting enough exercise? Exercise sounds like such a simple solution to so many problems, both physical and mental, but many people avoid doing it, and then they suffer. Be sure to get enough exercise! I fell in love with the practice of yoga, and it’s exercise and meditative qualities.
You are what you eat. That old adage still rings true today. Take a look at what you’re putting into your body. Focus on real and natural foods that provide nutrients and not just sugar or processed fats.
Sleep is medicine. Are you getting enough? It’s great to stay up late every so often, but an irregular sleep cycle can have long-lasting effects on both body and mind.
Search for the good things
It’s unbelievably easy to be negative. There’s a lot of bad stuff going on in the world, and tragedy happens every day. What’s not so easy is to search for the good things, but your mind and body will thank you for it, as this study shows.
Search for things you’re grateful for in your life. The more you focus on the good things, the less power the negative things will have over you. Release those chains and find happiness to build yourself a new and better environment.
- Conversano, C., Rotondo, A., Lensi, E., Della Vista, O., Arpone, F., & Reda, M. A. (2010, May 14). Optimism and its impact on mental and physical well-being. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2894461/
- Happiness & health. (2014, February 19). Retrieved from https://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/happiness-stress-heart-disease/
- Studies find new links between sleep duration and depression. (2017, November 08). Retrieved from https://aasm.org/studies-find-new-links-between-sleep-duration-and-depression
About the author:
Niraj Naik is a certified pharmacist turned holistic health and breathwork expert. Having cured himself from Ulcerative Colitis, he is dedicated to helping others restore their health and improve their overall quality of life with holistic practices and lifestyle changes where stress and gut health is a factor. He is known internationally as The Renegade Pharmacist and founder of SOMA Breath.