Climate Action Now! Psychological Toll of The Climate Crisis

It’s easy enough to see the damaging physical effects of climate change on communities and ecosystems directly impacted by fires, floods, droughts, and super storms. Less visible is the psychological toll of experiencing a slow-motion train wreck—-a toll especially felt by young people, who are aware their futures are at stake. We will discuss the strategies for developing resiliency in the face of this looming crisis. Join the Climate Action Now! team for this important program.

Sunday, November 13, 2022 9:45 Forum: https://www.ethicalstl.org/event/can-psychological-toll

Presenter

Brian Vandenberg, PhD, retired Professor of Clinical Psychology and former Director of the Graduate Clinical Training Program at UMSL.

Internal Activism: Habits, routines, and attention to mind, body, behavior

Highly Recommend

  • Doing What Matters in a Time of  Stress.”  s book addresses many of the resiliency strategies listed below. It is published by the World Health Organization, has been published in 25 languages, is presented in an easy to follow graphic text, and the strategies suggested are supported by decades of research. It can be downloaded for free.
  • Also, the book “Emotional Resiliency in the Era of Climate Change’– Leslie Davenport.

Mind

  • Validate experience. Not something wrong with you; not impaired, stupid. Acknowledge that the problem is a global one that everyone must face.
  • Identify what you can control and what not. Focus on what you can control.
  • Attend to and counter negative “mind habits”. “It’s no use to try.” “Our lives are (My life is”) ruined.” “We are (I am ) doomed.” “I’m alone in this struggle.” “What I do never makes a difference.” “I’m crazy to be upset about this”.  See “Doing What Matters in a Time of  Stress.”
  • Also,  “Doing What Matters in a Time of  Stress
  • Accept change.
  • Mindfulness. It is a shift in how we are experiencing the world that can be done anywhere. Shift from the mundane ways we engage the world to become aware of being alive, experiencing the presence of the world. Gratitude for this moment.  Mindful awareness to “unhook” ourselves from negative mind habits that “hook” us into a downward spiral of thoughts and habitual/self-defeating stories we tell ourselves about ourselves and our lives. See “Doing What Matters in a Time of  Stress”.
  • Also, meditation apps:  There are eco themed meditations.

Body

Behavior

  • Connecting with others critical part of internal activism and fostering resiliency.
  • Online resources:
    • Work That Reconnects Network. Resources for resiliency and connection. Events, webinars & conversation cafes, forums, books, audio, videos, poetry, songs & music, practices (gratitude, deep time, seeing with ancient eyes, meditations, etc.).
    • Climate Awakening. Share stories, join climate emotions conversations.
    • Eco-Anxious Stories. Resources to share stories, normalize climate anxiety, spark solutions. Also news sources to aid.
    • Gen Dread. Newsletter for staying sane in climate crisis.
    • Good Grief Network. “10-Step to personal resilience and empowerment in chaotic climate.”
  • Limit social media & other info input. Common consequences: Overstimulation. Frantic behaviors. Sleep & physical ailments/complaints. Distraction. Inability to concentrate and focus.
  • Connect with outdoors.
  • Live in accordance with values. Existential treat—task to find ways to live meaningfully with full appreciation of threat. See “Doing What Matters in a Time of Stress”.

Developing habits, routines, and deliberate attention to mind, body, and behavior is HARD. An ongoing challenge; a marathon, not a single trial. We will fail. Again. And again. Practice. Practice. Practice. Requires as much effort, diligence and is as important as external action. Imperfectly, together, we unite, we change.

You can also access this Resiliency Resource Outline

  • On the Climate Action Now! link on the Ethical Society webpage.
  • It is in a footnote of the post, “Psychological Toll of the Climate Crisis” on my blog
  • Send an email to the CAN! team, can.ethicalstl@gmail.com, and we will send you a copy.
  • You can also sign up for email notices of our CAN! meetings and activities by sending us an email and simply state “subscribe” in the subject heading. We are very mindful to keeping our missives to an absolute minimum—no harassment, we promise.

Suggested Actions for CAN!

  • Visit and explore at least one Climate Crisis website offering resources and support. (See Resiliency Outline).
  • Pick one resiliency strategy that you don’t typically use and try it for a week.
  • Talk with someone of another generation who you don’t know well about the Climate Crisis.

CAN! materials

These materials have been prepared by the Society’s CAN! (Climate Action Now!) team. This post and its links do not express or imply an endorsement by the Ethical Society of St. Louis or its leadership.