Many of us active in the global movement to confront the climate crisis already feel various levels of stress and anxiety. Are we doing enough? How bad will the crisis get? What happens if our leaders don’t act in time? These and other questions weigh on us.
Now we’re confronting a global pandemic that looms as a worldwide public health emergency.
As millions of people around the world cancel travel plans, as mass public events are postponed, and as many of us are adjusting our lives to work from home and to avoid large public gatherings, our collective anxiety is growing.
For that reason, we at EDF have been exchanging ways we can all manage the stress — and stay engaged on the many big issues we care about, such as our climate advocacy work.
We wanted to share some of these tips and ask you for your feedback and ways you’re coping with these alarming events:
1. Stay connected with your friends and family over text messages, social networks and email. We’re not alone — and you’ll find that openly sharing the anxiety you’re feeling and your views on dealing with big global crises like climate change and the coronavirus can help, and that many others feel the same way you do.
2. Take action online — Since many public events and gatherings are being canceled, and since we’re all going to spend a bit more time at home, this is a great opportunity to take action online. Email your members of Congress and let them know you support climate action and clean energy. Message them on social media. Write a letter to the editor. Try calling congressional offices and leaving messages if they’re not around to pick up. Let’s all be active as we hunker down. Important tip: Please be sensitive to the fact that congressional staff are also dealing with the coronavirus threat, so let’s all be extra polite and understanding in tone.
3. Make sure you’re registered to vote — and encourage your friends and family to vote as well. We have a tool to help: edf.turbovote.org. Besides registering, many organizations provide online tools that give you the chance to call Americans across the country to encourage them to turn out to vote — I’ve done this myself, and it’s really fulfilling.
4. Stay active through exercise and stretching — from yoga to hiking to biking to even just going for a nice walk around the neighborhood. You can listen to music or your favorite podcasts as you go — maybe listen to soothing meditation tracks. Clear your head and focus on the rhythms of your breathing and the motions of your body.
5. Get outside to soak in some rays if it’s a nice day. You can get your spring gardening started. Some yardwork is a good way to get some exercise and fresh air. If the weather isn’t great, maybe get some spring cleaning done around the house.
6. Spend some quality time with a favorite show on Netflix or other networks. I’ve just started watching the recent Netflix series, “Our Planet,” David Attenborough’s latest exploration of our beautiful and magical world and the threats climate change poses. His call to arms that “the stability of nature can no longer be taken for granted” has me already fired up for more online advocacy! You can also find “National Parks Adventure,” “Mission Blue,” “72 Cutest Animals,” “Oceans” and “Night on Earth: Shot in the Dark.” And Disney+ has the Disneynature series. Plenty of good options out there.
7. Look up new, nutritious recipes that help boost your immunity. There’s nothing like some good comfort food. Bonus: Good food fills your home with good aromas.
8. Knit or crochet for a good cause — If you’re a knitter or crocheter, check out the Tempestry Project, which “blends fiber art with temperature data to create a bridge between global climate and our own personal experiences through knitted or crocheted temperature tapestries, or `Tempestries.’” Knitting and crocheting are very enjoyable and are also a proven way to cope with mental health issues and anxieties — so if you aren’t a knitter or crocheter, this could be a great time to give it a try.
9. Express yourself — If you’re a writer or painter or woodworker or craftsperson, take the time to express yourself through your art on the issues you care about. And share your art with us on Instagram or Facebook. As spring weather returns, maybe consider setting up a bird feeder or planting pollinator-friendly plants, such as purple coneflower and milkweed native to your area.
10. Cuddle your pets — If you’re a pet owner, spend more time cuddling with your furry friends. Studies show that bonding with pets boosts oxytocin levels. Oxytocin is known as the "bonding hormone" or "cuddle chemical" — and it provides the body with many health benefits, from decreasing blood pressure and heart rate to boosting immune function and raising tolerance for pain. And it lowers stress, anger and depression. So take your dog for an extra walk or just cuddle with your cat on the couch.
11. Take small actions in your own life — and give yourself credit for the actions you’re taking. We can’t solve big global crises like climate change or the coronavirus on our own — but we can be proactive and give ourselves pats on the back for being engaged on a very personal level. Small changes add up.
What’s not on our list? Share your tips in the comments section below.
Finally, from all of us here at EDF, we want to make sure you stay safe and follow the best guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (or your country equivalent) and World Health Organization for protecting yourself from exposure.
This is a scary time and we are all in this together.
Act when it matters most