Does your Environment Support your Vitality?

If business isn’t going well, if you’re not meeting people who feel like kindred spirits, and/or your health is less than optimal, you might simply be in the wrong environment.

For many people, especially those sensitive to sound, smell and/or temperature, location and environment are more important than any other factor that impacts their sense of well-being and ability to thrive. When any of these are compromised, it doesn’t matter what you do, things won’t be quite right. Even the people you love will not be as lovely to you if you’re not in an environment that nourishes you.

I have recently learned that I’m a “selective cave” person, meaning not only do I thrive in cave-like features of a place, I am particular about who enters my home. As a younger woman I didn’t know this but I did move a LOT. Now I understand why. I didn’t have the financial means to rent on my own, and even though things started out OK in a shared situation, I can see now that my sensitivity to noise (by which I mean hyper-sensitivity), as well as my real need for solitary time, meant I was always vulnerable to the behavior of others.

The place I live in now has a lot of the features that make me FEEL good in my body.

  • I am in charge of the noise level and the temperature of the physical environment.
  • I live in an end-unit and the front door faces south. (What can I say? I am a cave person who needs warmth and light!)
  • Even the balcony has a cave-like feeling, covered as it is, with walls on 3 sides and a wonderful view in 2 directions. (Some Native Americans lived in elevated caves with views of the valleys below. It’s like that for me.)

I’ve noticed the same environmental preferences in restaurants. I don’t like to sit in the middle tables of a restaurant but prefer to sit on the edges, with my back to a wall. It feels noticeably uncomfortable when I’m in the middle and there are people on all sides. Plus, I don’t like to hear other people’s conversations other than those I am sitting with. With my back to the wall, I immediately eliminate the potential sound blasts from others by 50%. Even before I had the cave distinction my body held this sensitivity.

Sometimes the Right Place is Simply
the Right Place for Now

If you’ve been with me for a while – or years – you know I’ve been on the move again. The last home in Annapolis was a middle-unit condo. I was surprised when I responded positively to living there, knowing I don’t like the feel of the middle of anything. But affirmatively respond I did, even as my mind asked, “really?” My husband and I looked at other places and kept going back to that one.

Sometimes the right place is the right place for now. I know another woman who, like me, moved to the Mid-Atlantic for a few years. It was not the “right” place for her, either. She made not a single friend and didn’t love living there, but in hindsight she realized she needed the isolation to recuperate from some very busy years that preceded that move. Plus, it allowed her to be near her daughter and grand children for a while. When it was time to move on, she did.

My hindsight? Annapolis was the last Mid-Atlantic/East Coast stop for me. If I wasn’t happy there, that was it. Sedona? We’ll see. It’s the right place for now.

What Does Your Body Say?

When you were reading the particulars of my preferred environment, did you start to reflect on yours? What do you notice about your own preferences?

Are you a cave person, like me, meaning you feel good in a protective environment, yet one that is light and open?

Or, like another friend of mine, do you need to be holed up in a small room with the curtains closed, even during the day? (This same friend starts his day at the coffee shop, so he needs a little bit of the public forum, too, but at home he needs the darker, closed off space.)

  • Do you thrive in a busy, bustling environment?
  • Do you need to move around during the day or do you like to stay in one place?
  • Do you like cities or feel better in suburbia or the country?
  • Do you prefer valleys or mountains? (I moved to the San Fernando Valley in Southern California after living in the Bay Area for 16 years. I FELT the difference, like I couldn’t climb out. Clearly views are a part of my equation.)
  • Do you do well in a milder climate and feel comfortable when skies are grey (I know people who do), or do you need a drier, warmer, sunnier climate?
  • Are you lonely working at home?
  • Do you wish you could work from home?

In Step 2 of Business from Bed, “Embrace the New Normal,” I laid out questions to help you think about the “perfect” work environment. A health challenge seems to demand such assessments. If health is not an issue, but other things are not going well no matter what you DO, maybe it’s time to look at your environment – and I’m not talking about mold!

4 thoughts on “Does your Environment Support your Vitality?

  1. Tina

    Joan, I am so glad I found your website on the Vestibular Disorders website. It presents such an insightful understanding of the challenges of health issues. I have problems with vertigo/dizziness/balance and have been in acute phase…again… for over a month. Unable to go to work I have been doing the best I can to work from home and getting others to cover the “on the scene” portions of my work. Environment has a great impact on these “inner ear ” issues. I have to always consider where I am going and what the room is like in regard to lighting/sound/crowd/visual patterns. Instead of the overhead fluorescent lights (which are a huge problem for me) in my office I use lamps. But there are other environmental things over which I have no control. I can only work on the computer in short segments now but I look forward to reading more of your blog and website.

    1. Dear Tina, thank you for being so candid about a very personal situation, and for telling me that you found my site on Vestibular Orders website.

      I am sure that most people have no idea how sensitive some of us are about the physical environment…lighting, sound, crowd and visual patterns! Do you have ways to guard yourself (is that the right word?) in more stimulating environments, or is it simply best to keep out and away from those that cause sensory issues?

      I am glad to hear you seem to have a supportive office when you need to be away. It says a lot about you AND them.

      Warm regards, Joan

  2. Christine, thanks for sharing the post on Facebook. What’s your FB page name?

    I really like that image of you sitting on the floor with stuff all around you. Just because you can have a desk doesn’t mean you should sit at it 6-8 hours a day.

  3. My best space is described by my husband as a “nest”. I usually have my back supported and I fan all the objects of my work around me. Needless to say, I tend to work on the floor a lot.

    I love this post and shared it on my Facebook page because I think it is very important to understand your personal needs in a work environment. How you feel as you work is just as important as what your work is….Being in tune to your surroundings can make or break you.

    Thanks for writing this post.


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