It can be super easy to look on the internet or be scrolling through social media, see beautiful people doing impressive things and then look at your own life and feel less than. While it's important to use social media responsibly so that we don't waste time, fall into the trap of feeling envious of other people's life or worse, feel unworthy, it is equally if not more important that you recognize and take credit for all of the amazing qualities that YOU do possess.
Often times, we tend to overlook our talents like drawing or cooking. Simple things we are good at we tend undervalue. It comes easy to us so we assume that everyone can do it. Reality check, no-- not everyone can draw masterfully with ease or blend flavors into spectacularly delicious meals as well as you can!
Take credit for all of your GOOD qualities, talents and gifts.
Maybe that thing has always come naturally to you-- that's no reason to think it's not special. Know that it's not easy for everyone to do the things that you can do. Whether it's a being able to identify plant species, a capacity to speak charismatically or even a calming aura about your vibration-- it is special, you are unique, so unique and gifted. It's a miracle that you are here at all. How precious your life is to not appreciate every inch of yourself! Stop taking yourself for granted and remember who you are. Because you're amazing!!
Take credit for all of you because you are awesome. Remember this.
Climate change affects us more than ever right now. Endangerment of species, biodiversity loss, wildfires, drought, crop depletion, the list of influence goes on. Thinking about these elements that deplete our planet's precious resources can have a serious affect on our mental health too. After all, there is no Planet "B" and our situation is indeed an existential threat to us all.
There are 3 psychological impacts of global climate change that are associated to mental health related stress: 1. direct, 2. indirect and 3. psychosocial. The first one- direct, refers to the traumatic after-effects of extreme weather scenarios, these are things like hurricanes, tsunamis or floods that would devastate an area and consequentially cause mental and emotional grief in the aftermath. The second is indirect and refers to impacts of emotional threats due to uncertainty around the future and general security. This is similar to the what people are experiencing now during the COVID-19 pandemic; many people are have added stress, depression and anxiety because of the uncertainty the virus brings and implications it might have of their health or livelihood. The final quality of impact- psychosocial, refers to chronic societal stress, effects of heat, drought, migration, instability and weather related conflicts like post-disaster adjustment of a society or group.
The detrimental quality of environmental effects inherently erodes the process of well-being and thus impacts community as a whole, even conveying possible increase in suicide mortality as a result.
Now, we all know that getting physical and emotional care after something as traumatic as a massive hurricane or a tornado is necessary for the people involved in order to recover; their houses, their entire lives were turned upside down and destroyed.
What about the people who've never been in a natural disaster but are still feeling ecological grief?
These people fall into the indirect category.
Being able to mentally process the possibilities & probabilities of how climate change might impact our way of life in the near term in critical. We shouldn't be taking on more than we can handle though it's a heavy conversation regardless. I believe in being prepared. Part of what I advocate for as a climate-informed counselor is the act of intentionally exposing ourselves to these possibilities, as difficult as it may be.
Educating ourselves, asking tough questions-- this allows us to face the truth of what is happening and to actively process our fears on our own time, in our own way. Climate science is a politically charged concept. We can not talk about climate change without breaching the subject of our economic system. It's a broad topic to say the least. There are a lot of unknowns and it can surface feelings of anger, despair, anxiety, hopelessness, and this is all without having been in a weather event.
Learning more about it can help us meet ourselves where we are, so that we can in turn become empowered by this knowledge, feel more connected with each other and be more in touch with reality-- rather than feeling afraid.
So if you are someone indirectly affected by climate change (which is everyone at this point), you have the opportunity to integrate an understanding of it-- before you are directly affected and have little time to process much less, prepare for what's going on around you.
I would rather know what to expect so I can anticipate something mentally as opposed to being caught off guard and further devastated by an event. There is power in knowing the facts, there is power in knowing yourself. It's a survival mechanism in some sense. If society were to totally destabilize wouldn't it be helpful to at least know you've mentally and emotionally prepared at least minimally for anticipating what's to come? You would carry less stress because you've already processed what was happening to some extent.
I'm not saying that we should expect worse case scenarios. I am however suggesting the major value in fully realizing our climate crisis. The environmental repercussions associated with climate change are uncertain and disturbing. Indirect climate change or climate-grief can be viewed as an opportunity. It's asking us to come to terms with our own existence, to look at our life and choose how we want live. It's asking us to transform our grief into light so we can be inspired to appreciate our life each and everyday as we should-- as a gift.
We live in the Anthropocene Epoch. It's denoted as the the time in history (an epoch) when humans began making an impact on the environment, hence what we are experiencing now is referred to as "anthropogenic climate change".
Denial is a form of delusional thinking.
It means holding on so tightly to a belief or idea, even in the face of opposing evidence that to everyone else is consensus . In case you don't know, we now categorize climate change as factual science, proving that humans are indeed causing the environmental problems that we see occurring.
It's obviously ideal and necessary for the world to form sustainability practices in everything we do as an overarching goal for the planet but it's also no secret that the world we currently live in does not fully support or actively implement these sustainable structures and systems, why? Because of our economic structure, (but we'll save that for another post). Using your own individual grocery bags will not solve the problem, should you do it? Yes, if you can, but realize that many, many other actions are needed to actually make a difference globally.
Deforestation, loss of habitat, species extinction, air + water pollution, loss of sea ice, wildfires, the list goes on, and this isn't even the scariest of the bunch. If we don't take massive action as a collective, life as we know it could be in serious jeopardy as we march our way into the trajectory of extinction.
Now I'm not telling you to blatantly deny climate change because we are legitimately in a emergency but what I am telling you is that what is happening to the Earth might be really scary for you and I wouldn't blame you if you did deny it based on all the terrifying evidence that surrounds the subject. If fact maybe we should deny climate change to an extent, for our own mental health.
It's okay to feel overwhelmed and okay if you cry about the climate crisis. You're a human person and it's an intense subject. It's also definitely not your fault and feeling climate-guilt only means that you care immensely about Earth and life itself, which is a beautiful thing and makes you a beautiful person.
Joining/forming action-oriented groups as a means to create purpose, connection and stability in mobilizing our efforts in reversing the crisis and in holding governmental bodies responsible. All of this is indeed necessary for change making.
Apart from this, I propose that if we have to face this climate reality, we can at least deny the part of ourselves that holds on to the burden. The part that steals our happiness-- the guilt. So that instead of denying what is true... we find a higher or spiritual understanding that brings us peace, in knowing that even if life ends (which it does and will no matter what time in history we live in & regardless of anthropogenic climate change), that there is something else you are connected to in this massive, quantum, multidimensional Universe(s)-- something that has purpose, that makes sense to you individually. An idea that can not be touched even in the midst of total destruction. It may take some research, some deep contemplation, and maybe you already know what that thing is, but creating a purpose, a reason, an inner solution, will aide in your psychospiritual health immensely and may be part of what saves us during this existential crisis-- at least mentally and emotionally.
Facing the climate reality takes strength and mental flexibility.
If you find yourself in cognitive dissonance + grief over this topic, I love helping people find balance and meaning through climate-grief and would love to support you.
Remember, if you have to take a break from climate content that's ok. Remember that you have the power to create your own escape, a safe place no one can touch. And remember that you can join the cause when you are ready, in whatever capacity, in any way that you choose.
We. Are. In. This. Together.
#1 Remove it from your house!
Out of sight, out of mind-- simple enough and very effective though not always as easy as it seems. This doesn't mean that you can't have anything indulgent in your cupboard.
Be really honest with yourself about what will accelerate your desire to overeat or partake in unhealthy habits and what won't. If you do this, then you'll be golden. Key is actually being honest, conscious and intentional with all of your decisions. Only stock items that you can "use" (and by use, I mean eat), responsibly. And P.S, if you do screw up... love yourself through it. Remember-- discipline takes time to build up. It takes true desire, momentum and action (or in this case, non-action). But more than this... relapse is part of the recovery process so when you slip up you will learn more about yourself, your limitations and what you can do in the future to prevent it. First step is eliminating all the triggers from your reach though.
#2 Try a little CBT
If you want to change a habit, you have to stop it in it's tracks. You have to literally remold your brain circuitry. Luckily we humans are very adaptable and awareness and intention can go a long way.
Picture this, you're at the store, in the candy aisle or ice cream (whatever suits your fancy)-- you're right in front of the sweet goodie that promises you deliciousness and feelings of immediate escape from the grind of life or stress that you are presently avoiding. You had wanted to avoid this aisle all together but your body took you there now, and there is only one chance left to avert giving in and to be proactive in making yourself self proud before you reach for the goods and throw in the towel.
CBT (or Cognitive Behavior Therapy), rides off of the principle that our thoughts effect our behaviors and emotions. Often times when we indulge in sweet things even if it's a serving size, (though if you're reading this though, I'm guessing it's more), it causes some kind of negative feeling. Whether this is the inevitable crash from the sugar high, the stickiness between your teeth and gums, guilt or the bloat that you feel afterwards, no matter the amount usually each type of treat causes a unique reaction in our body or mind. If you can simply remember and harness that particular negative effect and feeling from the specific treat and this is key, the specific item that you are eyeing, and think of that yuck feeling rather than the yummy savory part of it when you're head to head at the store and it's decision time... this will help detour you from purchasing and indulging. When we do this little trick we are practicing our brains executive functioning allowing us to obtain better self-control.
I can't tell you how many times in the past I've been in the treat aisle and eyeing some candy only to realize, "wait, do I really want this, I feel like there is a ring of lard around my torso and my teeth are coated in a sugary glue after I eat these". I remember those specific traits that I typically would feel after the act of consuming them and "wah-la", I'd be saved in that moment from purchasing. Remembering the bad aspects of how something affects us is a truly powerful tool in maintaining our recovery from sugar.
#3 Remember and Be Empowered by the Science
If you're like me, you want to live the most healthful life possible and feel good about how you look and feel. Sugar is essentially an anti-nutrient! It has absolutely no benefit to your health. Unless you are out of food and need energy to run because you're being chased by a tiger it's not necessary and it is detrimental to your health and longevity.
Remembering the facts and data on sugar helps me to avoid it. I encourage you to make your own list of facts that speak to you the most, here are just a few that might inspire you too: Sugar....
These are just a few of the horrible things that sugar does to our body.
You CAN cut it out of your life.
If you want to decrease or cut this substance from your life all you have to do is maintain awareness of the desire and persevere in your pursuit. Be honest with yourself and be gentle with yourself if you fail in meeting your goals.
Relapse can be a learning tool rather than just a "fail".
We all fall down but if it's part of the learning process.
I believe in you. Do it for your future self, do it for your health.
One step at a time.