Practically Yours: Self-Care Tips for Counsellors – Environmental Health

Posted by: Derrick Shirley on July 8, 2011 2:02 pm

“We never know the worth of water till the well is dry.” -Thomas Fuller, 1732.

Is your home or work environment healthy or toxic? How would you know if it was or was not? Tending to your environmental health in the context of personal self-care is similar to my argument for the importance of tending to the Earth’s environmental health; it is never to late to start if you realize you may have fallen short. In this, post five of six, we explore the links between self-care and good health with a focus on personal environmental health.

From 2003-2010, I lived in Calgary, AB. I moved a few times over the course of those years, which my friends could attest to (thanks again everyone for lending a hand). During my last two years there, I brought the concepts of the medicine wheel home to my apartment and made some decorative changes. The medicine wheel is a conceptual framework for health with deep ties to early First Nations and Celtic culture. The four components of the medicine wheel are physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health. Essentially, optimal health is achieved when one is in balance with all quadrants.

In order to help myself with personal balance, I rearranged my furniture and dedicated rooms to each of the four quadrants. I had a home gym (physical), my home office (mental), my living room (emotional/social), and my bedroom – which was electronic free – no TV’s, computers, or digital alarms (spiritual). After a few weeks, I could already see and feel the progress and a change in my awareness. One particularly busy week I felt burnt out at the end and reflected on where I had spent most of my time; in my office. I had exercised very little, did not visit with anyone and spent little time relaxing in the living room. For the week following, I decided to make some adjustments to my daily routine to incorporate more balanced living.

Awareness of your connectedness with nature; feeling grounded, respect and appreciation for your home, the Earth and all its inhabitants; contact with the earth; breathing healthy air, drinking pure water, eating uncontaminated food; these are what Ivker, Anderson, & Trivieri (2000), consider to be “optimal components of environmental health,” summarized as “Harmony with your environment (neither harming nor being harmed).” In my above example, I used my home environment to help shape my actions and behaviours and ultimately, my overall sense and experience of personal balance.

From birth to death, we maintain a dynamic and unique relationship with our environment, whether at home, at work, or in nature. Just like with any other relationship we must communicate with it in healthy ways, listen and learn, strive to be respectful and loving partners and make a commitment to happily-ever-after living.

Take good care,
Derrick Shirley.

Ivker, R.S., Anderson, R.A., & Trivieri, L. Jr. (2000). “The self-care guide to holistic medicine: creating optimal health.” Penguin Putnam Inc., New York.




*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

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