What's On My Mind #28

What's On My Mind #28

Jan 23, 2022


What's On My Mind is a weekly newsletter where I share some of my thoughts, stories, and ideas to raise awareness; enable personal growth; nourish an open mind; encourage self-discovery; and empowering myself and others with individual responsibility.

"Nothing in all the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity" - Martin Luther King, Jr.

I hope you find them of any use.

Environment and mental health
Everything from the house, city, and the state you live in to the weather in your area, the social climate, and your work environment can affect your mental health. These places you spend a lot of time in can have a significant impact on your well-being—both physically and mentally. So, it makes sense to take a closer look at how the environment affects your mental health. But with so many factors playing a substantial role, you might be wondering which ones to focus on to improve your mental health. Your mental health can be impacted by anything in your environment, but the most notable factors include: 

  • Aesthetics: Cluttered spaces can create feelings of overwhelm and anxiety, while tidy spaces can invoke a sense of calm. To help with this, have colors and objects in your environment that are meaningful, which can boost mood. 

  • Sensory: The lighting, temperature, sounds, smells, and color palette of an environment are very important to how comfortable, relaxed, and safe you feel. For example, harsh lighting and loud noises can lead to anxiety or agitation, while dark and cold spaces can lead to feeling unmotivated—especially in the winter. 

  • People: Indirect or inconsistent communication, conflicts, or unreliable people in the environment can be very stressful to manage. However, sharing a space with someone you trust, such as a partner or spouse, roommate or friend or loved one, can create a sense of calm. 

  • Culture and values: It’s important for people to connect with others that share their culture and values and to be understood at a deeper level. Otherwise, feelings of isolation and depression can arise. 

  • Familiarity: If something in the environment, such as a difficult relationship or disorganization, reminds you of a difficult time, you may feel triggered by old feelings like anxiety. However, positive associations in the environment such as a family keepsake, photos, or familiar objects can boost mood and a sense of connection. 

It’s easy to blame a toxic work environment, cluttered house, or rainy weather for your deteriorating mental health. But sometimes, your perception of the environment contributes just as much to how you feel. If you’re not in a position to change something about your environment, it’s critical that you work on reframing the beliefs you have about it. Trying to find appreciation in the environment, even if it's one positive thing can help reframe your thoughts about your environment. To accomplish this, I recommend a gratitude journal. I think forming a routine or some habits to help keep your environment as decluttered as you can also help reframe and provide a sense of control in a situation where you feel like you don't have any control. Focusing on what is working and supporting you in your current environment. Apply small changes to make the environment more soothing and familiar, such as organizing, adding photos, or painting. And finally, make sure to process any emotions or frustrations that are present through journaling, movement, or talking with a friend or therapist. Don't let the feelings build up.

Understanding that the environment plays a critical role in mental health is the first step. But you also need to be able to identify if a change is needed. For example, if you live in a city and always feel overstimulated and anxious, try to engage in more quiet activities at home. If that doesn't change your mood, but you notice that every time you spend a weekend outside the city, you feel relaxed, that's a sign that something needs to change. While changing your social network or the depth of certain relationships may help, it may not “fix” whatever is driving your mental health issue. It may not be sufficient enough, and getting treatment may be required. Picking up and moving from one environment to another permanently is not always an option for many of us. However, a temporary move from the city to the country, or perhaps closer to the water, is one way to try and test how your physical environment impacts your mood. If you notice that, for example, you experience less stress being outside of the city lights, there is less smog in the air and less noise for you to contend with and as a result, you are sleeping better and thinking more clearly, then I would say you have some key evidence to support your decision.

Changing jobs, leaving a relationship, or moving locations is not always possible. The good news is there are ways to support yourself where you are now. Below are some simple solutions. Ways to improve your current space:

  • Increase the amount of light in a room.

  • Paint your room to a brighter color.

  • Declutter or organize your space in a way that helps you feel more focused or relaxed, depending on the room.

  • Engage different senses in your environment to help balance your mood. If you are in a stimulating environment and want to slow down, opt for quiet music or soothing sounds like ocean waves and scents of lavender, which can help reduce anxiety. If you are looking to feel more energized because of low energy, try a peppermint scent and brighter lights.

Original art

Teachings & Insights
The art of peace page 42

Each and every master, regardless of the
era or place, heard the call and attained
harmony with heaven and earth. There
are many paths leading to the top of
Mount Fuji, but there is only one
summit - love.

Video - true riches
Many of us think that if we just have enough money, everything else will fall into place. We'll be healthier, our relationships will be stronger, and we'll have more time - just as long as that bank balance stays high. But true wealth is not about digits on your bank account. In this short video Obert Jongwe tells about a life full of true riches.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities." - Voltaire

Fundamentals - curiousity, thought, breath, water, nutrition, nature, rest, movement, relationships.
Vegan is not what it used to be

A vegan diet has historically been associated with healthier eating. This, however, may be less accurate now than it has been in the past. It seems that the vegan diet has changed gradually in an unfavorable way with the progressively higher intake of industrial plant-based meat and dairy substitutes or ultra-processed foods (UPFs).

Three to four decades ago eating vegan seemed to be more work than eating the standard diet including meat, dairy and eggs. Food preparation and eating out were challenging while life has gotten faster leading to a greater amount of “prepared” food. To try to define that, a basic underlying concept emerges which is food manufacturing. As little as 100 years ago food was almost exclusively grown or raised. Now it is manufactured.

A recent study looked at the UPFs in the current vegan, vegetarian, pesco-vegetarian and standard diets. The diet highest in UPFs were the vegan and vegetarian diets at 39.5% and 37% by volume respectively. The overall results reflect our excessive reliance on UPFs with those representing at least one in 3 of all calories. The problems with UPFs are many. They are nutrient depleted, full of penalizing additives such as processed sugars, laden with herbicide residues and heavy with chemical additives. 

The debate about the health impacts of the different plant/animal content diet favors a more plant-based approach to healthy eating.  That now comes with the qualification that those diets avoid the tendency to now be heavy in UPFs, and care needs to be used in that area. As the researchers of multiple studies concluded (1)(2)(3):

“Not all vegetarian diets necessarily have health benefits because of potential adverse effects of UPFs on nutritional quality and healthiness of diet.”

Epidemiology research does show benefits to diets with higher amounts of healthy plant-based foods. These are diets that do not contain significant UPFs. Doing for the benefit requires doing it well.

The Nova-Group Classification is a great way to categorize your food.

Podcast - The Mikhaila Peterson Podcast: Opposing Views
In this episode of Opposing Views, James Lindsay and Ian Kochinski. James Lindsay is an American author, mathematician, and political commentator. He is known for having co-authored a series of hoax papers for social science journals, perhaps the best-known being “The Conceptual Penis as a Social Construct” and the one where “unwanted humping” at dog parks was observed day in and day out, resulting in an informed breakdown of how men would benefit from being trained like dogs. Vaush is an American left-wing YouTuber known for his advocating libertarian market socialism. He has popular debates on his channel as well, often against other YouTubers.


Did you know...
Fat around the middle is worse than fat anywhere else.

It’s where the damage starts in terms of insulin resistance and inflammatory proteins. And this kind of fat doesn’t appear all at once, either, so it’s easy to ignore. It should be a warning sign if you’re slowly increasing your belt size or your pants start feeling tighter around the waist.
Harvard Medical School Article

Thank you for your spending your valuable time on reading this newsletter. Your support is much appreciated.

Joey van Tilburg

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