We have been incredibly focussed on our immediate surroundings during 2020. The Covid-19 pandemic has forced us to stay away from many places in which we would normally spend a lot of time. It has meant that the majority of the population has had to move their whole lives into the home for working, schooling, exercising, shopping (online of course) and leisure activities. So, what better subject to end the year on, than a good hard look at what is important in terms of having the most healthy environment possible around you. Of course it’s important to look at your home because that is where you go to relax and unwind, and especially where you sleep. But if you normally spend many of the hours of your week in a workplace it is also important to consider everything below in relation to that location as well. Is your work place a healthy environment?
Surroundings is one of the aspects of Evenstar 5 Star Wellbeing™ – the other four being Food, Movement, Sleep and Being. Each of these 5 aspects cannot be considered the one key to overall wellbeing. They are intimately entwined and need to be viewed as 5 parts of a whole – my holistic approach! I will introduce all five components in the content below, but to start with lets look at some particular factors to be aware of in creating a healthy environment (aka surroundings) for yourself and your loved ones.
Synthetic fragrances are (very unfortunately) EVERYWHERE around us. There are the obvious things like perfume, after shave, deodorant, air ‘fresheners’ and scented candles. And then there are the less obvious products that we use for cleaning , beauty, personal care, and laundry. Lastly there’s the downright ridiculous things such as scented toys, stickers and even garbage bin liners.
The problem with synthetic fragrances and the phthalates that they contain is that they are hormone disruptors, meaning that they interfere with the natural hormone processes in the human body. Hormones pretty much control everything that goes on inside you, and you really want them to be able to do that uninterrupted.
Phthalates have been associated with:
decreased sperm count
decreased size of testicles in infants
asthma and allergies
For lots more information about how to avoid synthetic fragrances and what products to use instead, refer to my Blog, On the Nose.
If you want a place or a person to smell good, but you also want to maintain a healthy environment, use essential oils! I stock DoTerra essential oils so feel free to purchase these oils through me (always with ~10% discount off RRP). If you’re going to buy a few oils it may be worth setting up your own wholesale account (a good idea if you’re buying a few oils and spending $200+ in a year). I do also offer a service of creating custom blended perfume rollers, for only $25 – just get in touch!
Other essential oil brands to consider are ECO, Black Chicken, Young Living, Springfields and Twenty8.
In addition to the pthlalates found in fragrances there are literally hundreds of harmful chemicals found in most of the common products that you use on your body and in your home every day. This is a topic that we cover in some detail in my 7 Ways to Get your Energy Back course and in great detail in my Nourish & Heal the Whole You course. You will learn about which chemicals and products to avoid and what to replace them with in terms of:
You will also dive deep into all the other toxins in our Surroundings, that I touch on throughout this Blog. My 7 Ways to Get your Energy Back in just 1 Month course is now available online for you to do anytime at your own pace for just AUD47.
Believe it or not mould is one of nature’s cleaners – its purpose is to break down organic materials and recycle the nutrients from these materials back into the ecosystem. Mould proliferates wherever it has food and moisture.
The problem with mould is that when it breaks down it releases mycotoxins, which simply put are naturally occurring substances that are dangerous to animals, including humans, and can be neurotoxic (affecting the brain).
Almost a quarter (24%) of the human population cannot process mycotoxins at all and are therefore very susceptible to mould illness. In addition the elderly and those who suffer from asthma or respiratory allergies are particularly susceptible. Added to this is the statistic that 30-40% of all buildings globally are water damaged (a high risk factor for mould).
The symptoms of mould illness are wide ranging, and include:
To learn more about this and also how to reduce your potential exposure to mould check out my blog, Mould: the phantom menace.
Living in cities we are constantly exposed to high levels of positive ions from electrical appliances, lights and pollution, and the environment inside our homes is the same.
The tiny subatomic particles of energy that all matter is made of are electrons and protons. Electrons have a negative charge and protons have a positive charge. When a molecule of matter loses electrons it will become what is known as a positive ion because it has more protons than electrons and is therefore positively charged. This is what occurs when we use electrical appliances.
Excessive exposure to positive ions has been found to have a detrimental impact on health and wellbeing, contributing to depression, anxiety and fatigue, as well as physical health issues including asthma.
It is therefore really important to rebalance your ionisation whenever you can and this is really simple because negative ions are produced in abundance near plants and moving water! So basically, get outside and into some nature! For lots more detail about ionisation and what you can do to create a healthy environment indoors you’ll want to read this Blog.
Many of the things that we eat these days are really not food, but instead are ‘food like’ substances which our bodies cannot properly process. The easiest way to decide whether something you are going to eat is real food is to ask yourself if could you walk onto a farm and pick it, or if has it been made from things that someone could walk onto a farm and pick. In other words it is a natural whole food, or made only from natural whole foods. In order to eat only real food you need to read labels and avoid additives, preservatives, flavourings, colourings, or really anything that you don’t recognise or can’t pronounce! For lots more tips on how to do this well, dive into my blog Clean Eating.
In order to provide the huge quantities of food required to supply manufacturers and supermarkets within tight timeframes, primary growers generally use copious amounts of chemicals in the process, including pesticides, fungicides, genetically modified components and artificial fertilisers. Just as with any other food additive, the human body is not designed to process chemicals that are added to foods when they are being grown. Often the body actually cannot excrete these chemicals and they are instead stored, literally as toxic waste.
Yes, organic produce is more expensive but the organic food market in Australia is growing all the time, with consumer demand increasing by more than 30% each year and this will accordingly lead to an eventual reduction in the pricing differential. If, like most of us, you simply can’t afford to buy everything organic then become aware of which fruit and vegetables are the most susceptible to chemical residue and try to at least buy those ones organic. The Dirty Dozen and Clean Fifteen lists produced by the EWG in the USA are very useful, although at least in Australia pesticide residue is regulated.
It can also be useful to consider which foods are consumed in the greatest quantities in your household and buy those ones organic, perhaps start with the top 3. You may also like to seriously consider growing as much of your own food as you can – the resurgence of the vegie patch is a thing!!
If buying or growing organic is totally not an option for you then you may like to try to reduce your exposure to chemicals by washing your produce in
4 parts water and one part white vinegar
1 tbls apple cider vinegar to one cup water
A made for purpose produce wash such as those made by Abode, Dr Bronners or Resparkle
Leave them to soak for 5-20 minutes before you cook with or eat them.
Kitchenware is available absolutely everywhere these days and as with most things, the cheaper versions tend to be problematic because they are made using toxic materials such as teflon, aluminium, nickel, copper and plastics and are not made to last so they will end up in landfill within a year or two. In the the long run they’re really very expensive for you, and the planet!
There are so many different types and brands of products that it is impossible to identity them all here – and stay up to date – but for some initial guidance look to buy kitchenware that is made from:
Cast Iron (and keep it well ‘seasoned’)
Ceramic | Enamel | Porcelain (definitely only buy brand names as cheaply mass produced ones often have heavy metal fillers and are easily scratched)
Glass (again don’t buy it from the $2 shop because it will probably contain lead)
Anodized Aluminium (but must be PTFE/ PFOA free)
Stainless Steel (with low or no nickel content)
Silicone (100% silicone only, DO NOT use for cooking but for mixing & storing it’s great)
Brushed metal (and keep it well ‘seasoned’)
Clay (baking dishes)
Wood (chopping boards & utensils)
Bamboo (sustainable variety only)
In a nutshell constant exposure to plastics (largely in the area of food storage and utensils) is something that the human body was not designed to cope with (our caveman ancestors did not have plastic tubs for the leftover woolly mammoth!). Plastics are associated with obesity, cancers, diabetes and fertility issues. Feel free to read my Blog on Plastics for more details of which ones to completely avoid, how your body reacts to them and most importantly what to use instead.
Drinking lots of pure water is one of THE best things that you can do to improve your overall health and wellbeing. Afterall, your body consists of 60-80% water! The average adult needs between 2 and 3 litres of water a day to maintain appropriate levels of hydration and this will vary depending on the size of your beautiful body, the temperature of the spaces your inhabit and how active you are.
Given that water is so important and something that we ingest and use on our skin in copious quantities it’s pretty important that the water we use is pure and doesn’t contain toxins of any kind.
What toxins might be found in water?
BPA or PET (from plastic in bottled water)
Pesticide, Antibiotic and other residues
The easiest way to avoid these is to filter your water, making sure that the filter you use removes these harmful substances.
There is so much science to support the benefits of moving your body in the great outdoors, including what I wrote about under Surroundings, on ionisation.
In addition if you do some exercise outdoors you benefit from:
having your eyes look into the distance (not constantly with the short range of indoors)
seeing the colour green
looking at fractals – the repeating geometric shapes found in nature – which create a sense of peace and wellbeing
hearing the sounds of nature, which also create a sense of wellbeing, whereas the sounds of technology and machinery are identified by the human brain as ‘dangerous’
sunlight giving important information to the brain for your sleep/wake cycles, plus essential Vitamin D
breathing in fresh air, NB it is not a good idea to do high intensity exercise close to traffic, due to air pollution
So when you can walk, run, cycle, swim or indeed do any physical activity outdoors, you will gain MANY more benefits than those you get simply of doing the exercise itself – so get off the treadmill!
What is going on around you when you are trying to sleep? A healthy environment is a key component of a good night’s sleep. The furniture, bedding and bedlinen you have in your bedroom can all either benefit or detract from your sleep, and your overall wellbeing. Natural materials in all cases will be the healthier options eg. a hard wood bed frame rather than particle board, a latex mattress rather than synthetic, a wool duvet rather than polyester.
Light is a key factor. We are genetically programmed to be awake in daylight hours and sleep in the darkness. The problem is that in the modern western world we have brilliant electrical lighting everywhere and we stay up way past sunset utilizing this! So the key tip here is to use light appropriately. When you get up in the morning throw those blinds wide open and go out into your day without your sun glasses on! Getting out into natural daylight for just 2 minutes as soon as you wake up is very beneficial for your energy levels, because your brain is fired up by the light. In the evening turn the lights down, use minimal lighting, candles if you can.
Also a big caution against the blue light that is emitted by the screens we are all so addicted to. Turn your screens off an hour before you want to be asleep and when using them in the evening make sure you change the settings to ‘night time’ with red background lighting.
Having as few electronic devices in your bedroom as possible creates the most healthy environment for sleep. If you need them in there keep them as far away from your head as possible. If you use an electric blanket to warm up the bed, pull it out of the power point before you go to sleep. Digital devices are really not conducive to good sleep for many reasons, which you can learn about here – your phone or tablet does not belong in your bedroom!
Your body is designed to sleep with a slightly lowered core temperature so make sure your bedroom and your bedding is not too warm. One way to lower your core temperature before sleep is to have a hot bath or shower, which draws the heat out from your core.
The 5th aspect of Evenstar 5 Star Wellbeing™, Being, includes everything else that isn’t in the other 4! One component of Being that I probably don’t talk enough about is connection – your relationships, your tribe, your support network. The people that you surround yourself with are a very important part of your healthy environment. You know intuitively when someone is not healthy for you, when they’re a bit of an energy vampire! You may have great fun with them but you walk away feeling exhausted and depleted. Obviously the easiest solution is to just avoid these people, but that is not always possible due to work or family expectations.
Meridians are the energetic pathways of the body, just like your blood and lymphatic vessels, only we can’t see the meridians although medical equipment is beginning to be developed that allows them to be detected. The central meridian is the reservoir for all energy used by your brain and is important in preventing overwhelm, including being overwhelmed by other people. To activate your central meridian, you simply move your hands from your pubic bone up to just under your bottom lip. Do this three times before a potentially energy sapping situation. Make sure that when you take your hands back down, you push them out from your body so you are not running the meridian backwards! Think of this like ‘zipping’ yourself up! You are closing up your protective jacket to prevent any negative energetic influences getting to you and sapping your own energy.
Many people also use crystals to protect their energy from the environment. I personally wear two crystals every day – a protective selenite and a glass crystal designed to protect against electro magnetic frequencies. You can also use crystals to help create a healthy environment in your home or workplace but always remember that they need to be rested and revitalised themselves so don’t expose them to your energy 24 hours a day, and pop them out in the full moonlight every month.
Of course having some energy healing will help your own energy to be balanced and revitalised, especially if you’ve been spending time in surroundings that are not so healthy. Book Now!
The clothes we choose to wear are such an important part of our Surroundings because they are immediate – they are in contact with our skin, and they reflect how we feel about things, including ourselves. In order to protect our wider surroundings, environment and planet we all need to start to think a little more carefully about the types of clothing we buy, both in quality and quantity.
What are the problems with fast fashion?
Workforce: often exploited, working in awful conditions and frighteningly underpaid
Dyes: cheaply produced synthetic dyes, coal or petroleum derived, with harsh chemicals that are toxic to people, animals and planet
Chemicals: highly toxic chemicals are used in the production of clothing including formaldehyde, PFCs, Nonylphenol Etholytate, Volatile Organic Compounds, Dioxins – and even if they’re not so dangerous for people they almost always damage the environment
Quantity: so much is produced, worn once or twice and then tossed that it creates a massive waste management problem globally
Water: huge quantities of water are used in clothing manufacture, such as 2700 litres to produce 1 tshirt
Pollution: the Chinese textile industry alone creates about 3 billion tons of soot each year (source: treehugger.com); emerging research also identifies microfibres from washing synthetic clothing as being a significant issue in ocean pollution
The easiest change you can make is to buy less clothing – buy less quantity and more quality! Also you can:
Buy only pure organic cotton, wool, silk or hemp clothing; look for GOTS certification. The Global Organic Textile Standard is the worldwide leading textile processing standard for organic fibres, including ecological and social criteria, backed up by independent certification of the entire textile supply chain.
Avoid synthetic fabrics including rayon, polyester, nylon, acrylic and acetate
Avoid clothing marketed as ‘antibacterial’ or ‘anti-sweat’
Shop at Thrift/ Charity/ Op shops
Arrange a clothing swap with friends, colleagues or your community
Wash new garments twice before wear to remove chemical residue
I am Arwen Bardsley, Holistic Health & Wellbeing Coach, and founder of Evenstar Wellbeing.
I love to explore the full spectrum of modern science, combined with ancient wisdom, to help you get your energy back, and hold on tight to it! I specialise in helping you to identify the root underlying causes of any type of wellbeing concern, and working with you using all the tools of Evenstar 5 Star Wellbeing (which includes Food, Movement, Sleep, Surroundings & Being) to feel energised and balanced on all levels – physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.
I help people with problems ranging from chronic pain, anxiety and stress, overwhelming fatigue, addictive behaviours, negative habits, approaches to food and weight management, grief, fertility and hormonal issues, and toxicity of any kind. I have a range of services including coaching, training programs and healing sessions.
I am a Certified Food & Spirit Practitioner, and a Low Tox Coach, and I also utilise my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Reiki Master qualification, and additional certificates in Kinesiology, Seichim, Crystal Healing and Aromatouch Massage in my practise.