Updated: Nov 29, 2022
Climate change, dips in our wellbeing, the recession… it can all get a bit much.
If only there were some simple coping strategies to help.
Perhaps there are...
Facing the fear
In recent history many leaders have denied responsibility, or even the evidence, for the metaphorical chasm at our feet that is climate change, with all of its associations.
Facing the fear has been an important incremental step to take necessary and realistic action for a positive and sustainable future.
For example, whether you agree with his day-to-day politics or not, Boris Johnson’s demonstrated a clear shift in thinking in his speech to the United Nations in September 2021 as he remarked on the evolutionary path we must follow.
It is time for humanity to grow up.
Making big decisions
At COP26 important pledges for nature were made, for example from the corporate world. Changing the plumbing of the financial system — BBC News
COP27 the hard work started with some success, at least at the level of agreement
But what about us?
Doing what you can
Most of us aren’t in the position to make the huge decisions to effect change on a level such as this. And many of us worry.
Without doubt, the connection between our health and the environment is now clear
Pragmatically, we can all mitigate our personal impact on climate change. Detailed information is now freely available and ubiquitous on how to go about it 9 things you can do about climate change (imperial.ac.uk).
But that is not the focus of this article.
Money is tight as we enter a recession and whilst it is heartening to witness communities pulling together to weather the storm The Nottingham dad helping people find discounted food — BBC News we are in this era of climate change together for the long haul.
Could it be that time and circumstance have now moved us on to a new phase, living alongside climate change and integrating our fears into our daily routines and lives?
Rather than one-off activity we now need ongoing actions and strategies.
So, let’s assume for the sake of argument, that we have faced the fear of accepting that climate change is happening, and have taken steps to reduce our own personal impact, such as switching to a green energy provider for our fuel.
Where do we go from here?
Three examples of steps to tend to your:
· Environmental anxiety
· Tension around social inequality
· Mental health and wellbeing
The examples below describe activities we can all do on a daily basis to empower ourselves with a sense of control, no matter how small, in a positive direction. Research shows that taking this first all-important step will help change the way you feel to ultimately improve your life and that of those around you.
And the best news — they can be cost effective/free to do!
1. Something for the Environment
Example: Litter — take one extra piece home with you every time you go out.
This is easy to do, with many reported benefits for the environment, wellbeing and the wider community.
I recently met an old friend who recounted a holiday overseas where citizens were encouraged to do this. She reported experiencing all of the above outcomes, and in addition, joy at discovering a location where she simply could not find any more litter to collect, thanks to the collective effort.
2. Something for others
Example: Homeless advice centre business cards.
In one locality within the UK, the Citizen’s Advice Bureau created business cards with their contact details on. Anyone could collect and carry them. Instead of offering money or a cup of tea to homeless people in the street, the card, with directions to the local office offered potentially more substantial help.
Could you encourage your local relevant organization to do the same and carry them with you to share?
3. Something for you
Bump this up as a priority
Most of us need to.
Mindfulness is a well-established method of bringing more wellbeing into your life which is free.
Treat yourself by doing something small for yourself that you find nourishing. Here are some ideas:
Those you care for will thank you for it.
Summary — A ‘virtuous circle’
These steps create:
- a virtuous circle of agency (feeling in control)
- environmental improvement (no matter how small in this instance)
- feelings of contributing to the betterment of society
which can all feedback to improved mental wellbeing and a reduction in anxiety.
Why not test them out and see if they work for you?
What other examples can you think of? Please feel free to share them.