Stressed About Climate? Here's How to Cope
For decades, scientists have warned the public about rising global temperatures from excess carbon in the atmosphere, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. Now, watching extreme weather events like floods, droughts, heat waves, wildfires, and storms dominate the news cycle is a familiar sight.
For many of us who care deeply about the health of our planet, the safety of our communities, and the survival of all living things, we are experiencing what mental health practitioners call climate anxiety or climate grief: a sense of fear and tension linked to climate change. If you’re one of the many people across the globe feeling this overwhelming sense of dread, you’re not alone. The good news? There are steps we can take to help cope while fighting climate change. Here’s how:
Read information about local and national climate actions, regulations, incentive programs, and solutions. Reflect on essays and articles published by environmental organizations and advocacy groups. Join one of Mass Audubon’s Climate Cafés to learn the impacts of climate change in an open and safe environment. By knowing more, you’ll have a better understanding of what is happening in the world around you and where to focus your efforts.
Share, Connect, and Engage with Others Who Are Also Concerned
Have conversations with neighbors, extended family, and people in your community about local and global climate threats and solutions. Attend a Mass Audubon program in person or online or sign up for a volunteer opportunity. By connecting with like-minded people, you will feel part of a collective group made of concerned, committed individuals who are learning, sharing, and engaging together. In turn, you are growing and participating in meaningful opportunities that capture the beauty of nature and the essence of working together as a community.
Connect to Nature
Get outdoors and experience nature in your neighborhood or at any nearby Mass Audubon wildlife sanctuary. According to a Cornell research team in 2020, regularly connecting with nature, even for just 10 minutes a day, can boost happiness and help keep you physically and emotionally healthy.
Act on Climate
Take action to address the climate crisis. Start with individual solutions, like increasing how many plant-based meals you eat or participating in community composting programs. Become a Mass Audubon Climate Champion to advocate for environmental legislation in Massachusetts. Knowing that you are making a difference can help alleviate the stress associated with climate change and boost your confidence for the future of your local environment.
Researchers have found that “constructive hope” is positively correlated with pro-conservation behaviors, like voting in every election or volunteering at a wildlife sanctuary. Being active and hopeful about the future can motivate us to continue our efforts to address the climate crisis.
Support Conservation Work
People and organizations all over the world are working to address climate change, including Mass Audubon. Support conservation research, education, land protection, and advocacy as a member, donor, or volunteer.
Climate anxiety can be overwhelming and scary, but remember that you are not alone with these feelings. There are endless opportunities at Mass Audubon for you to connect, learn, and engage with other people and make a difference across habitats throughout Massachusetts. By finding ways to help heal the environment, you may also learn how to address the anxieties and discomfort you face around climate change.
Learn more and get involved at massaudubon.org/climate.
This article was featured in the Summer 2022 issue of Explore, our quarterly magazine for members.