This podcast is part of a 10-episode series exploring how each dimension of the Eight Dimensions of Wellness enhances recovery. In this 20-minute podcast, Crystal Lee Brandow, Ph.D., senior project associate at Policy Research Associates, Inc., and Margaret Swarbrick, Ph.D., discuss what environmental wellness is and ways to practice it. Dr. Swarbrick is an expert at the Collaborative Support Programs of New Jersey and Rutgers University Behavioral Health Care. She has published and lectured nationally and internationally on wellness, peer-operated services, employment, and recovery. Drs. Brandow and Swarbrick discuss what environmental wellness is, how it relates to other dimensions of wellness, and how to develop healthy habits and routines that support environmental wellness.  

Environmental wellness is not about eco-friendly practices but engaging and being in a healthy environment. The places and settings in which we exercise, work, study, socialize, and sleep all can have a positive or negative impact on personal wellness. Environmental wellness is often overlooked when examining wellness, even though our environment dictates access to fresh food, clean water, nature, education, and community. 

Epigenetics is the study of changes in living things as a result of exterior forces. Dr. Swarbrick introduces the concepts of epigenetics into the discussion and explains how the environment can influence gene expression. This expression can shape our habits, behaviors, and personality. Changes in habits and practices, such as healthy eating, exercise, sufficient sleep, and time management can encourage us to enter or create healthy environments. Our environments may inhibit these healthy practices if noise and lights make it hard to sleep, the air quality is poor, or if it is hard to afford and obtain fresh produce. How genes are expressed is directly related to our environment and practices. 

To learn more about environmental wellness, please see our environmental wellness fact sheet. 

Listen to the other episodes in this series: 

This resource was first shared in 2018. 

(Podcast, Soundcloud)