Why Procrastination is a Common Response to the Climate Crisis and What To Do About It

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Have you been noticing yourself procrastinating or trying to put thoughts of the climate crisis out of mind, even though you care greatly about it? This procrastination of action is a very common response to the crisis, and it’s actually the reason that many people do not take action or work towards change in the world.

Inaction in activism is something that has been discussed for decades when talking about important issues, from climate change to abuse to world hunger. It’s also common in our day-to-day lives, such as in college and school environments.

Read on to learn more about why we procrastinate real change and what you can do to beat it.

why we procrastinate climate change

What is the Procrastination Response?

The procrastination response is a very human response to stress and overwhelming feelings. When something feels too much for our brains, we shut it off and ignore it. Without something pushing us in a direction, this often becomes overpowering, and we forget our path or simply don’t take action.

You can see examples of this in society. When something huge happens that is all over the news, people start to take action because it’s at the front of their minds. However, as action dies down or things begin to get more difficult, people become stressed and focused on other areas of life. Part of this is an attention span, but part of it is something else.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

This procrastination response happens because of stress, anxiety, and attention. It can also be caused by a trauma response. Here are some regular life examples of ways that procrastination can take hold:

  • Maria wants to clean her house. It is a bit dirty. However, she’s feeling super stressed by the mess and doesn’t know where to start. Instead of cleaning, she ignores it and puts it off for a few months until it gets so bad that she has a panic attack due to the mess.
  • John has an important project due at school. He wants to do a good job, so he initially does a lot of research. However, after he does the research, his passion isn’t as strong, and he has difficulty putting his thoughts on paper. He crams the project on the last night before it is due, and due to not feeling prepared, he ends up skipping school the next day and getting a 0 on the assignment.
  • Alex wants to volunteer abroad. They have done a lot of research and have determined that it is possible. However, they need to save up money for their plane ticket. Alex has never been so good with money, and they become overwhelmed with the financial aspect, causing them to not volunteer.

As you can see in the examples, each person has a desire to complete the objective, whether it’s cleaning, activism, or a project. It’s the same way with climate activism and taking action in our own lives to help the world.

For many people who feel passionately about saving the planet, there is a lot of stress and collective fear that comes along with it. After all, the climate crisis is scary and comes with some scary outcomes if changes are not made. This fear, coupled with the pressure to make changes now, causes many people to give up hope and simply not try.

Other people may continue to tell themselves, “I’ll sign up for the next protest” or “I’ll donate next month,” and then feel shame when they don’t end up doing it. It’s a vicious cycle that can leave people feeling hopeless. The good news is that there are ways to beat it!

How To Beat Procrastination in the Fight for Climate Change

If you’re feeling overwhelmed in your fight to end the climate crisis and help spread the word, here are some ways you can reduce that feeling and start to take action.

1. See a Counselor

First of all, it’s hard to be an advocate for something when you’re dysregulated. Even though the majority of people are going through this crisis together, it’s important to take care of your mind and body so that you can feel healthy and clear-minded when you get back into it.

We see a lot of studies about work-life balance, which means taking care of your body and mind so that you can work hard and be present in your job. This principle applies to the things we’re passionate about, as well.

2. Set a Schedule

Since humans need direction to take action, it’s important to learn how to be your own boss and your own director. Instead of waiting for someone else to plan a demonstration, plan one yourself. Figure out the details as you go.

If you’re not a “leader” personality, you can still plan ways to take action in your own life. Set a schedule for the little things you’d like to do to help the environment, whether that’s taking out the recycling daily or donating glass to a glass recycling factory.

You can also plan to donate to your favorite climate organizations monthly or plan a trip to volunteer in a foreign country, plus a plan for saving up money along the way.

3. Reward Yourself for Action

As reward-motivated creatures, humans also need to feel that their actions make a change. With climate change, it’s pretty common for people to feel that nothing will change from just one person trying to make an effort. It can feel hopeless.

However, with small rewards, you can show yourself the change that you make, even if it’s something tiny. You also want to remind yourself of the reasons you’re fighting for change and know that the true award is knowing you did your best and feeling satisfied with your efforts.

4. Reignite Your Inner Spark

Finally, the best activism comes from that inner spark that inspired you to take action in the first place. Often, this is a wave of rightful anger, which comes from seeing injustices or a lack of action being taken. This wave of anger is healthy, as it prompts you to continue working.

ways to calm climate crisis anxiety

Remind yourself of this feeling by using healthy doses of media, conversations with family, and even a collage of your dreams. Don’t depress yourself by watching tons of traumatic videos. However, do something that makes you want to take action. Write a journal page about your anger and sadness. Scream into a pillow. Write a rant on Facebook that only some close friends can see.

These are healthy ways of releasing emotion, and they’re also healthy ways to be an activist and get your voice out into the world.

Conclusion

If you’d like to learn more about procrastination in any area of life, you can check out this site from BetterHelp today. They’ve also got tons of information on resources for getting help with anxiety, depression, procrastination, and more.

Dealing With Pessimism About the State of the World? 7 Ways to Calm Climate Crisis Anxiety in 2022

This article was developed via a partnership with BetterHelp.

Anxiety and stress are common side effects of the state of our world in 2022. Climate change was a big thing on many people’s radars until 2020 when the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Since then, the world has been flung into a state of chaos, and the climate crisis has been put in the back of many people’s minds.

For those who are passionate about sustainability and climate, we know the importance of a zero net carbon future. It can start to feel extremely overwhelming to see that no one is talking about these topics anymore, and it might feel like the world has given up.

Even when it feels pointless, activism is important. It changes the way the world works, and it makes our voices heard. If you’re feeling pessimistic, upset, anxious, or stressed about the state of the climate, here are a few ways to find calm in the midst of the (literal and figurative) storm.

ways to calm climate crisis anxiety

1. Spend Time in Nature

Our planet is beautiful, and there’s more time than ever to spend outside appreciating the beauty of what it offers, especially during the pandemic, when it’s safer to be outside than in.

Nature also has profound positive effects on your mental health, according to several studies. If you find yourself feeling panicked, scared, upset, or angry, spend some time under some trees or near a river, where there aren’t any people or reminders of the stresses you face.

If you live in a big city, consider taking a weekend trip to a smaller town that allows you to be closer to nature. Or try to find a park with lots of trees and open spaces, where there aren’t as many people present. Just be sure to be safe.

2. Spend Time With Pets and Family

Being close to those you love is another excellent way to feel safe and get some relief from stress and anxiety. If you’re feeling pessimistic, reminding yourself of the positive people and pets in your life is essential to make sure you don’t get stuck in a pattern of feeling like there’s nothing good in the world.

After all, animals are some of the purest beings on the planet, and they never give you a reason to feel hurt or angry. They’ll always love you unconditionally. If you have a dog, even going for a brisk walk with them is a great way to get exercise and bond with your pet.

If you have a cat, their purring can even help soothe you, as vibrations are comforting for humans as well as animals.

Try to avoid spending time with family members who cause you stress or may incite conversations that will cause fear or anger.

3. Join a Protest

Sometimes the best way to take action against pessimism is to be optimistic and continue to fight hard for what you believe in. For some people, this is the best and most productive way to fight anxiety. For others, it may make it worse.

If being part of a cause and making a change would help you, look for protests or peaceful demonstrations in your area related to climate change. If there are none and you know enough people, consider planning your own!

Planning an event is another great way to get your mind focused on something other than the thoughts inside of it.

4. Volunteer for an Environmental Organization

If you prefer to do something more long-term with your anxiety about the state of the climate, joining an organization or volunteering for an environmental non-profit is an excellent idea.

These organizations often make long-term efforts to help the community be greener and more sustainable, and they donate to larger organizations and offer political support. You can even sign up to help educate the public on voter information and environmental rights.

Some organizations simply need volunteers to help with cleaning, organizational tasks, money, etc. No matter where your skills lie, there’s like a spot for you.

If you have the time and money, there are some sites online that allow you to volunteer in other countries for environmental-impact projects in exchange for food and housing. You just have to pay for your plane ticket and dedicate a certain amount of hours.

ways to use persuasion to bring awareness to the reality of climate change

5. Change Your Sustainability Practices in Your Own Life

Opting for sustainable practices in your own life can make you feel like you’re making a change. Even if it feels useless or like one person can’t possibly do enough to change the world, every effort helps.

Not giving up on your goals and knowing that you’re doing something to help the environment is a great way to feel more optimistic.

6. See a Therapist

For some people, the anxiety, pessimism, and anger that comes with the state of the world during this time can be too much to handle on their own. That’s okay! These feelings are completely natural, and thousands, if not millions, of people feel the same way as you do.

Therapists are available online, as well as in person. However, if you’re looking to reduce emissions by not driving or using public transport, it’s always a possibility to see an online therapist from the comfort of your home! You can even utilize video chat, phone calls, or regular chat to speak to your therapist!

7. Stop Compulsively Checking the News

Finally, compulsively checking the news for new information on climate crises can often cause more anxiety and pessimism. If you are susceptible to these things and very sensitive, try to give yourself a break. Although it’s important to be informed, you’ll likely get more accurate information from scholarly sources, such as the ones on Google Scholar.

Conclusion

If you want to learn more about pessimism in general and how to combat it, check out BetterHelp’s advice column and blog today. You can also learn more about how to get help for common mental health conditions and symptoms so that you feel safe and ready to get back to your advocacy for the environment!

Is Global Warming Causing Stress Among Young Students?

Climate change is a pressing global issue and has only grown in the public eye. After many decades of suspicions and then confirmations of the negative impacts of humans on the environment, there are ever-increasing environmentalist movements that strive to bring awareness to the issue and try to stop and reverse these destructive forces.

The current generation is likely the most vocal and aware of the grave dangers of climate change. Because of the impact of the current environmentalist movement, increased education, and mainstream entrance, many young students are constantly thinking of ways that they can help the planet.

However, the weight of climate change remains heavy. Many young students report increased levels of anxiety and depression and cite global warming as a cause of their “climate anxiety”. Anxiety, especially climate anxiety, can be very harmful, and therapy or counseling as listed here may be a good option to help address it. Climate anxiety, and anxieties in general, should not be taken lightly.

climate anxiety

Why are young students stressed about the climate?

For people who don’t experience climate anxiety or tend to think about the environment, it can be confusing and distressing to see young folks so distraught. Many people believe that young students don’t have much at all to be worried about, except maybe for school and their social lives, and so they shouldn’t be experiencing anxiety.

However, the truth is that this stress can show up in young people for a number of reasons, and should not be discounted. The feeling of responsibility for global problems many generations in the making can be intense, especially as many of the worse consequences of climate change are getting more obvious and are only expected to increase.

1. This is the first time they are learning about the environmental crisis

For many young students, this could be the first time they’ve heard about global warming or at least the first time they are truly aware of what that means. The crisis feels very imminent and scary to them. Science does not lie to spare feelings, and indeed an understanding of the gravity of the situation may be necessary to fight it.

climate anxiety

2. Their brains are still in development

For any young person who is still developing, emotions may feel more intense. This does not mean that they are any less valid or that the stress is less founded in reality. This simply goes to show just how powerful the feelings of stress and anxiety can be for young students.

3. They perceive the impact on both their immediate and long-term futures

Many adults do not necessarily see the climate crisis as a large issue because the consequences seem as though they will only arise once their lives are over. This is not the case for young students who feel as though they will be personally impacted by the consequences.

What can we do about it?

Global warming and the anxiety and stress that individuals may experience surrounding it are not lost causes. Not only is it possible to develop coping mechanisms for the stress, but also to divert the negative feelings of stress and anxiety towards helpful practices that fight climate change.

1. Learn more about ways we can help in our daily lives

One major way for anyone to cope with anxiety is to learn and input concrete practices to counter that anxiety into their daily life. For climate anxiety, this may look like decreasing plastic waste, taking public transportation, or eating lower on the food chain.

2. Increase activism

Many young students look up to other youth activists, like Greta Thunberg, as role models in the fight against global warming. Allowing young students to participate safely in protests and strikes can help them to feel like they are part of the change. Parents can vocally support policies that aim to reduce the effects of global warming and may implement environmentally friendly practices and habits starting at home.

3. Attend therapy

Climate anxiety is a real aspect of general worry and can contribute to an anxiety disorder. Therapy can help young students establish personal coping mechanisms for their anxieties that can help them feel better in the long run. If anxiety does not seem manageable on one’s own, consider speaking with a therapist or setting an appointment for your child to do so.

good-therapist

Climate anxiety is a powerful emotion for a young student, but it is also a sign that this student is a caring, empathetic person. The awareness, engagement, and leadership visible in the next generation may in fact create a better world, free from global warming, for future generations. One must just remember that taking care of one’s own mental health is just as important as the health of the Earth, and self-care will make a more effective, long-lasting activist in the long run.