Every one of us lives in a specific situation. And it affects our health. This is obvious, yet it is often ignored.

When we talk about health it is usually about what individuals can do, not nearly so often about our situation.This is strange: the long lives we are now privileged to have in countries like Australia largely came from changing the situation – it was the campaigns for sewerage and mass immunisation that eliminated the diseases which most people died from. It wasn’t treating individuals for these complaints. It makes good sense to treat the cause as well as the symptoms.

This blog is read by individuals and so to be useful needs to offer things that individuals can use. But, for this post at least, I want to put in a word for looking at the situation.

Today, in countries like Australia, what impacts most on our lives are not the epidemic diseases but other health concerns – such as depression.

Our health is affected by our working hours (perhaps driven by the much greater security and convenience of owning a house instead of renting) – Australians have the longest working hours in the Western world. It is affected too by our more dispersed families – once many families had members within walking distance, this is less often the case now. These are things that any one individual can do little to change. It takes large scale co-operation and may well need to involve governments too.

So here are a couple of things we can do as individuals.

  • Realise that our context effects, if you are feeling stressed are there changes you can make to how you live? Small changes, just dropping one commitment, can make a difference.
  • There are now some small alternatives developing in Australia, such as co-housing, which have the potential to make changes for the better in our lifestyle.
  • Even moving with a group of friends into a retirement village, instead of friends being dispersed among several.
  • For those of us with the time and energy we can join social change groups too.

Whatever we do, even small things, we will probably feel better for having done them.

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