DEALING WITH CLIMATE ANGST AND ANGER
The Doomsday clock just advanced to 100 seconds before midnight – the closest we have ever been to utter disaster. Helplessness is a common response to such news. There are no simple solutions to the climate emergency. Dealing with the problem means nothing less than a complete halt in the way we do things. So how do we deal with climate angst?
Most people have no idea of how bad things really are. In fact, 40% of 16- to 24-year-olds are “overwhelmed.” As Greta Thunberg said recently, “I don’t want your hope… I want you to panic. I want you to feel the fear I feel every day. I want you to act.”
BRIGHT IDEA: Get out there and get active!
“Engagement is our only chance,” says climate activist Bill McKibbon.
We must build resilience to address the physical and mental health impacts of climate change. How we manage our feelings is critical.
Consider these helpful hints for dealing with climate angst …
- Believe in your own resilience. Supporting local campaigns to preserve habitat positively influences your mental health.
- Reappraise your circumstances to foster optimism. Embrace a better present. If there is good news to be found, find it! (For example, one day last year, Ethiopia planted 350 million trees.)
- Find personal meaning by having a spiritual practice to boost your sense of well-being. Mindfulnesspractices provide a greater sense of purpose and meaning.
- Be prepared for short-term disasters with an emergency kit that includes
food, water, supplies, and medication, but also comfort items (pictures, blankets, toys, favorite foods or treats, etc.).
- Develop strong social connections to provide a secure foundation and a critical protective resource during times of adversity.
- Stay connected to family, friends and role models. Children look to parents as models for managing their emotions.
- Maintain your connections to place. Most people don’t abandon their homes regardless of the changes experienced.
- Join the fight. The most effective responses are collective. Acting together helps us not to feel so powerless and can be a healthy outlet for expressing anxiety, anger, and grief with others.
BRIGHT IDEA: Check out the Good Grief Network!
The Good Grief Network is an online 10-step approach that may help you build personal resilience while strengthening communities to help combat despair, inaction, eco-anxiety, and other heavy emotions in the face of daunting systemic predicaments.
When things get bad enough, types of action that were previously impossible become possible. As individuals, we can’t save the world, but we can make it a tiny bit better… and perhaps save our sanity in the process.
Bright Ideas is brought to you by Portland Climate Action Team which meets the 4th Thursday of the month, 6-7:30 p.m. upstairs at the Reiche Community Room on Clark Street. All are welcome. FMI: firstname.lastname@example.org.