We’ve looked at many ways of working towards a healthy mind, from practicing mindfulness to emotional expression. It’s all been about the internal.

But something many neglect is how the external – the environment and people around – us can affect our mental health.

What’s that Sunday feeling we’re all too familiar with? The ‘ugh-it’s-back-to-work-tomorrow’ song we all seem to sing in harmony between the hours of 8pm to 10pm, followed by a quiet but resentful acceptance. Even those who love their jobs can be forgiven to find it dreary at times.

Yet the solution seems to always be to remove ourselves from the space that causes stress or problems. Stepping away from the stressful space can help, but sometimes pressures and real-life situations don’t allow for this.

Maybe you work in a fast-paced setting; maybe an upcoming audition is causing stress; maybe you’re unable to find work and can’t cope with failure; or maybe those around you aren’t supportive enough of your career choices.

Rather than braving the stress, what can you do to affect, change, and take control of your immediate environment for the better?

Take a piece of home with you. It could be something meaningful or just fun. Whatever that item is, the familiarity can help to settle and calm you.

Art therapy research has shown the benefits a simple colour change can have on our psyche. Colours like green and/or blue are typically considered restful and can help impact the environment.

Visualise calm. What was the space like when it wasn’t stressful? Trace how you got to the stressful point and work back towards that state.

Focus on turning the negative into a good learning experience. What lessons can you take away from the experience? Maybe you’ll realise what triggers stress and avoid it in future. The perspective you have can impact the effect the situation has on you.

Talk to those around you and be open about the effects whatever activity you’re doing – or they are – has on you. Explain how you are feeling, what’s worrying you, and what they can do to help.

Work towards resolving the stressful situation, and if that seems unachievable, work towards a compromise; it’s an equally valid way to affect your environment.

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