Does your neighborhoods affect your health?

Where do you live?

Let’s move on to a subject that most people would not directly connect to health. It is the question of where you live. What your neighborhoods looks like. This might not be a big deal for yourself as business leader; you are most often the winner in this issue. But it might be interesting if you have hired people who come from other kinds of neighborhoods. Let me discuss this.

When I started out this series of blog post about things affecting your health I told you about the helicopter view of 8 different issues. Physical surrounding is one of the pieces and where you live and work is your physical environment. We all know that all over the world rich and poor people live in different parts of the cities and villages.  But did you know there is a significant difference between how old people get even between different parts of the same city correlating with peoples income levels. Sir Michael Marmot has written a very interesting book on this subject called “The status syndrome: how social standings affect our health and longevity”. The book is well worth reading for everybody who is interested in people and health.

You might find this a bit far out when talking about leadership health. But I will say no, on the contrary it is a very important question. I have met many business leaders who are not satisfied with where they live. They are jealous at their fellow leaders, thinking the grass is greener on the other side. But my experience is that it is not – it just has another shade. I have also met business leaders who don’t understand when their employees talk about these things.

When I have my clients work with this piece of the health issues I let them write down what they think about where they live, friendship with neighbors, things that matter to them about where they live, the pros and the cons. Then we talk about what they wrote. Very often it ends up in very interesting discussions about things they never thought about before. Or didn’t realize.

I once had a client who realized that he always felt small when meeting a specific neighbor. At first he did not get why. But at the next mentoring session he told me he had solved the case. The man next door had told him a long time ago that he did not like my clients way of running his garden, that he did not keep it tidy enough. The neighbor always had a perfect garden and my client felt a strange fear that he was not good enough.  It was kind of funny because you would not imagine a powerful man as he was to feel that way. But somewhere inside he was hit on a weak spot. We talked about this a couple of sessions and then he felt strong enough to confront the neighbor. The neighbor just laughed and said he had not thought about that anymore, just accepting my client’s way of having his garden.  Today they are best friends and the man next door often helps my client in the garden since he is retired and he just loves gardening. And they lived happily ever after…

By solving this problem my client also got more confidence back and he started to make changes in the business that he had not dared before.  It was a lot of wins for him.

With this story from real life I want to point out that health is absolutely not just food, physical activity, sleep or stress. It is really every angle of how we live our lives and how we tackle problems. In this case it was about the surroundings we live in.

Do you have arguments with your neighbors? Does it at all matter where we live? What do you think of Sir Marmots research – does it matter where we live when talking about health and longevity?

If you find this information useful I would be happy if you share it in your network. Maybe you even know someone who really needs this – feel free to give them the link to this blogpost.

If you need professional help maybe Dr Annika´s mentoring program for business leaders “Strategies to cope as business leader” will suit you. The groups are small with maximum six participants to keep it confidential; the program can also be done individually. You can also get the program as teleseminar in groups or individual via Skype. Read more (Swedish) or contact for more information.

Keep smiling!

6 thoughts on “Does your neighborhoods affect your health?

  1. Hi Annika,
    perfect timing with this post 😉 I’m moving this week and couldn’t be happier about moving. Why? We had a nice apartment, overlooking the lake & the mountains. What’s not to like? The neighbor. Who wasn’t just the neighbor but the house owner’s daughter. She made living here very difficult & uncomfortable & I really think it did affect my health. Whenever she had one of her crisis, I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop thinking about her stupid arguments. So 4 more days and then I should be liberated. Thanks for this post, Annika !

  2. I remember having a confrontation with a neighbor that I normally have a great relationship. During the time we were on the outs, I dreaded coming home and found myself moody and tired all the time. When we solved our differences my home became my safe zone again!

  3. Lovely post Annika – our environments have such a deep effect on us – I once lived in an apartment in the city that was surrounded by tall buildings – no trees or greenery in sight. I didn’t realize just how oppressive I’ve find it not having the tiniest scrap of nature around me. Moving to someone with a park and a tree outside lifted my mood immensely.

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