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Well-being, Connection to Nature, and Going Green!

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“The more connected we feel to nature, the greater our well-being, vitality, and resilience.”

Engineering firms play a vital role in the health of our environment. Can you use this role as a way to leverage interest in wellness and health? Engineering firms can help design or influence environments that support health and well-being while also being friendly to the earth.

There is an intimate connection between our personal health, feeling connected to nature, and having environmentally friendly habits (as a business). As a Wellness Champion can you enhance employee health and well-being by engaging them (and your business as a whole) in a “Going Green” initiative?

Earth Day is Coming. April is titled “Earth Month” and April 22nd is officially called “Earth Day.” At first glance, these labels seem kind of silly. Why give special attention to our most wonderful (and only dear) planet for only a single day or month? Well, if you have been on the planet for the past 20 years, you probably have heard about pollution and misuse of vital energy resources, among other grave concerns (littering, plastic waste, climate change, etc.).

Taking Earth Action. In short, we are fairly busy doing mindless things to hurt the environment. In response, we put calendar reminders in place to be mindful and play nice with our environment. And there is an abundance of things you can do, like signing on to more than 20 different Earth Day Campaigns or other activities like recycling, composting, riding a bike, or joining in a local event (like a clean-up, see calendar from EarthDay.org or browse Earth Day volunteer activities at VolunteerMatch.org).

Wellness Meets the Earth. There are interesting parallels between these eco-calendar reminders and wellness reminders. Many of us need daily reminders to go to the gym, track our diet, get the right amount of sleep, etc. And these tools do help us stay healthy. We just have to keep at it and avoid slipping into old habits. Especially when friends invite us over to a hamburger feast or coworkers bring scrumptious donuts to work. In a similar way, we have to support each other to keep the environment clean. Don’t you hate it when you see “that guy” throwing paper trash out of his car window? He needs a (friendly) reminder, too!

Eco-Attitude. Attitude is everything. We have to care about our environment just as we have to care about our health. Taking care of both not only helps us personally but everyone around us. There is a common belief that our sustained attitude toward staying well is the most important factor in health. Our attitude toward the environment also matters. Actually, it is more than an attitude but a deeply held feeling of being connected to nature.

Connectedness to Nature. Think of the hundreds of ways that we connect to nature that also help our health: Walking, hiking, or running outside, swimming outdoors, fishing, getting sunshine, relaxing under the sky, gardening, outdoor sports, etc. The benefits from these activities are not solely from the exercise involved but also from feeling part of, in unity with, or somehow meaningfully related to our environment. Several studies suggests that the more connected we feel with nature, the greater our sense of well-being, vitality, and resilience. Statements that reflect this connection to nature are shown in the box.

Connectedness to Nature

Green Business Practices. Because of their expertise, engineering firms are in a unique position to foster a sense of stewardship for the environment. As a wellness champion, consider how your firm supports ecological sensitivity. Such practices may inspire employees to think more carefully about the earth (and their health) as well.

Things to DoYour firm can bring engineering creativity to a recycling campaign, environmental clean-up, a neighborhood gardening project, or public health educational event around air or water quality. Get staff involved in these projects. Ask them for their ideas. Here are some resources your firm can use to “Go Green”:

Healthy Regards (on this Earth),

Dr. Bennett and Lindsay

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