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4 Ways to Overcome Fear About Climate Change and Instead Focus on Positive Action

how to overcome climate change fears

Photo Credit: encierro/Shutterstock

Being bombarded by scary news headlines about climate change can create an overwhelming sense of dread and fear, but that shouldn’t stop us from working toward solutions. Leslie Davenport, a climate psychology educator, licensed clinical psychotherapist, and consultant, knows everyone is capable of activating their power to fight the negative effects of climate change. Davenport is one of the founders of the Institute for Health & Healing, one of the nation’s first and largest hospital-based integrative medicine programs.

“Climate Psychology applies behavioral health tools and research, and a trauma-informed lens, to address climate breakdown and restoration efforts in a variety of ways,” Davenport tells CircleAround. Based on her work with individuals and organizations, we asked Davenport to provide a few ways people can move away from fear about climate change to instead focus on how they can positively work toward solutions.  

1. Build Up Your Climate Education

The easiest way to help shift your perspective is to learn more about climate change in general. This isn’t difficult, but it does take some effort to ensure the sources you read and learn from are fact-based and legitimate. 

“There are lots of big headlines that highlight aspects of our changing world,” Davenport tells CircleAround. “But it's important to have an accurate understanding of what climate scientists are telling us.” 

Davenport says that a reliable, vetted source of information is NASA’s climate change homepage, which includes advisors from the scientific community and fact-based resources. 

2. Make Room for ‘Eco-Feelings’

“There’s a pervasive myth that acknowledging and expressing our feelings about climate change is unproductive, a waste of valuable time, and we’ll end up falling into an abyss of pain or fear with no way out,” Davenport says. “Just the opposite is true: It’s our unacknowledged and disenfranchised emotions that keep us stuck.”

She advises people to share their feelings with a like-minded friend, write in a journal, or even draw out in a creative way, to help find solace. “This will free up your energy and stir creative ways to become involved in meaningful change,” she adds.

3. Redefine Advocacy

Some people feel that making a positive impact on the environment has to be a monumental, drastic process. Davenport emphasizes there are plenty of things people can do and accomplish at whatever their comfort level is.

“Advocacy is not only carrying signs in the street (although civic demonstrations can be very powerful),” she says. “Advocacy can and should take many forms. Meaningful change must come in all areas of our current system, and we need everyone — parents, city planners, farmers, scientists, students, economists, artists, engineers — to bring their sustainability perspectives and activities to their sphere of influence.”

Davenport says actions as small as suggesting an environmentally-focused book for your book club, contributing your time or other resources to a non-profit you respect, or starting a project to make some aspect of your work environment go green can go a long way, and sometimes be even more impactful than you think.

4. Find Your Allies

Like any form of support in your life, involving yourself in a network of like-minded people will help keep you motivated and focused on your end goals. “It's really helpful to build relationships and networks that support both the practical and emotional journey of creating a healthier world,” Davenport advises. “It could be through a faith community, non-profit, worksite, or gathering with some friend who shares the desire to make a difference.”

The Bottom Line

Climate change can be a difficult topic to wrap your head around but it’s possible to feel better about your own carbon footprint by keeping yourself informed and active. Look to your social networks to find people passionately making a difference and follow their lead. No action is too small when it comes to climate change awareness, and with these tips, you might just feel a bit better and more prepared.

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