This booklet, drawing on evidence based insights from psychology, offers strategies to cope with the stress of climate change.
I say I am stronger than fear – Malala Yousafzai
The reality of climate change is actually very frightening. We are already in times of dangerous climate change, with worse forecast if we continue with business as usual, pouring excess greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.
This resource is on how to deal with the distress and stress of not just knowing that climate change is a threat, but also feeling that it is a threat. The feeling part is very important. Knowing about climate change is not enough for most people to take action. There are many, many ways in which people can ignore climate change or choose to do nothing about it. But when we feel the threat, then we are more likely to be motivated to take action. But it’s also then, of course, that we feel the most distress and worry.
Feeling the threat of climate change involves a whole host of difficult emotions. Common feelings are fear, anger, guilt, shame, grief, loss, helplessness. These strong feelings might result from direct fears about climate-related weather events affecting us, or vicarious distress about future threats, or about climate change impacts in other places, or even distress in response to the existential threats to civilisation as we know it.
Coping with the feelings we have about climate change is very important so that:
- we don’t become overwhelmed by these feelings
- we don’t try to avoid the problem in order to avoid the feelings
- we don’t burn out
- we can keep functioning well in our everyday lives
- we can stay engaged with climate change and with the changes we are making to reduce the threat.
- Coping with the feelings we have about climate change
- Who is vulnerable?
- How do people cope with climate change?
- Behavioural strategies: Things we can do to manage distressing feelings
- Taking action
- Taking a break
- Having fun, feeling good
- Maintaining healthy routines
- Focussing on only a few issues
- Relational strategies
- Ways we can use our relationships with others to help us cope
- Cognitive strategies
- Ways we can use our thinking to help cope with distressing feelings
- Dropping the judgements, ‘shoulds’ and assumptions
- Balancing action with reflection
- Cultivating hope
- Restoring ourselves mentally
- Emotional coping strategies
- Ways we can work with emotions to help cope with distressing feelings
Download the full booklet PDF from the box below.