How to avoid burnout when you think about the climate crisis like ALL THE TIME
The Green Fix asked some experts how to not lose your damn mind.
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I am a capitalist.
I am an oil-blooded tycoon of the modern age. I want to have it all. I want to be the best. Born to consume and extract. Wherever I go, I leave a trail of things that aren’t there anymore.
Didn’t there used to be a park there? Didn’t flowers used to bloom on this street? Didn’t I used to sit here for hours as a child without checking the time?
I am a capitalist. I create absence.
I am surrounded by people; I am alone. I have all this Stuff; I am empty. I can travel around the world; I am stuck. The forests are on fire; I am cold.
I am a capitalist; I am addicted. Like a drug, I keep looking for solutions from the problem. One more purchase and maybe I’ll be happy. Just one more hour of work and then I’ll stop, I promise. One more day and I can get by.
How much of the world have we razed for money? How much time with our family and friends has been lost in favour of the office block? How much of myself – my time, energy, my fractured sleep – have I sacrificed for a system that I don’t even believe in?
The days spent exhausted at a laptop screen, the burnout, the rankling inequality, the trail of last-minute takeaway plastic containers: we know this is not the world we promised our children. But we also know how to leave it behind. Follow the solutions and all roads lead to climate justice.
We must surrender. We must untangle ourselves from a life driven by earning and extracting and tailoring our LinkedIn profiles.
Like breathing out, when you cut yourself loose from the capitalist rat race, suddenly everything is easier. Suddenly we have Enough. Suddenly there is time.
In a green and just world, we have time. In a green and just world, we are satisfied. In a green and just world, we are free.
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What’s Going On?
The UN is finally, maybe, doing something about plastic pollution.
Useful: Which companies are the worst plastic polluters? (So I can avoid them).
The EU introduces a new plan to transition away from dependence on Russian fossil fuels.
Useful: History shows us just how fast we can move away from Russian gas.
Climate change is already making parts of the world unliveable, new IPCC report finds.
Related: Why tackling the climate crisis will also solve other problems.
Amazon is drastically undercounting its carbon footprint.
Related: 25 of the world’s biggest companies are lying about their climate pledges.
How the beef industry is trying to fudge figures to hide their climate impact.
Related: Why you should care about methane.
Solar panels built from waste crops can make energy without direct light.
Related: How much of Europe is powered by solar energy?
Focus On… Burnout and Self-Care
Kandice Cole, a wellness coach based in Texas and Jani Konjedic, a Slovenian ex-athlete who experienced burnout, share their insights into how to protect your wellbeing in an unsustainable and high-pressure society.
Please introduce yourself and what you do
Kandice: My official titles are writer and wellness teacher but simply: I help busy, passionate people find new ways to create more joyful lives. My work is about the intersection of wellness, creativity, and joy.
Jani: I'm an ex-professional volleyball player, a health enthusiast and blogger interested in everything related to wellness and wellbeing: nutrition, lifestyle, burnout, fitness, supplements, mindset, psychology. Currently, my focus is burnout awareness, prevention and treatment.
What does self-care mean to you?
Kandice: Self-care is having a deep-rooted belief that your wellbeing matters, and then acting on that belief consistently. From this space, self-care will look and feel like a lot of things.
What does ‘burnout’ mean to you?
Jani: Throughout my burnout journey, the word "burnout" had different meanings in different periods. When I first burned out, my burnout was primarily a physical condition – adrenal fatigue – a consequence of pushing my body too much for too long.
My burnout symptoms were intense: severe fatigue, reduced physical strength and ability to recover, severe brain fog and inability to focus and do mental tasks, low mood and lack of motivation and problems with mental health (anxiety and depression).
Later I realised that there were other things that impacted me, and different types of burnout. I was able to identify different physical, lifestyle, emotional and spiritual factors that contributed to my burnout.
Now I see burnout as a sign that something is out of alignment. Maybe something in our bodies doesn’t work right. Maybe our lifestyle is out of balance. Maybe we’re not taking care of our emotional and mental state. Or maybe there are things at the level of our spirit and soul that we need to work on.
How come I'm doing all the 'right' things for myself – mindfulness, exercise, vitamins – and I still feel stressed-out and overwhelmed?
Kandice: Because the ‘right’ things might not be the things you need. There really aren't right things that fit for everyone and it takes time to find the activities, thoughts, and rituals that make you feel less stressed and overwhelmed.
If certain things are not working, then try something else. You might need to focus on a particular area of your life (e.g. creativity, spirituality, etc.) or you might need to think outside the box about what makes you feel good.
I used to struggle with sitting still to meditate because I thought it had to look a certain way. Now, I find meditative time while watching a bird out my window and vacuuming my carpet. It may not be the right thing for someone else, but it is the right thing for me.
Kandice, you founded Unbothered Black Girl Collective, a community for Black women to practise self-care. What inspired you to start the collective?
Kandice: Honestly, history. So much history for Black people, particularly Black women, has been tied to oppression, trauma, and exhaustion. Even though we have moved past some parts of this history, the effects of it still linger.
I noticed that I and other Black women were not really enjoying life. We were working hard and doing what was expected, but not truly living. I wanted to create a community for Black women to explore their desires and tap into their joy without having to worry about what anyone else thought.
Unbothered Black Girl Collective became that space and eventually became the foundation for my company, K. Cole Wellness.
How do we avoid burnout & mental health issues when we live in a system & a climate crisis that is inherently stressful and unjust?
[Related: The Green Fix on eco-anxiety]
Kandice: I believe we can avoid the worst effects of burnout by accepting that burnout is a natural part of the process. If we can look at our burnout with more curiosity then we can find new creative ways to take care of ourselves.
Also, one thing that keeps me going is the reminder from Angela Davis, that we have to be well enough to experience the change (even if just a glimpse) that we are fighting for. So in being more proactive about my mental health, I am standing in my power and ensuring that I can continue on in the work that I care so deeply about.
Self-care and rest directly push against systems that promote constant states of stress. Rest and other forms of self-care is a part of, not separate from the important work we are doing to create a more just world.
Jani: Modern life is demanding and consuming. If we allow it to take over, it can lead to burnout. So if you're working in a high-pressure and stressful sector, it's important that you focus on yourself and prioritise self-care.
Take care of your body with quality food and quality rest, optimise your lifestyle to your needs and find your ideal balance in life, take care of your mind and emotional state, and support your spirit and soul with a sense of joy, passion and purpose.
[P.S I asked my network on LinkedIn how they prevent burnout in climate action - read their answers and add your own here.]
What would you like everyone to know about burnout?
Jani: You might see burnout as a curse, something that happened to you, but in reality burnout is something that happened for you. It's an opportunity to build a new, better you and come out of it stronger.
You can follow Kandice’s newsletter and connect with her on Instagram and LinkedIn. You can subscribe to Jani’s newsletter and connect with him on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook.
So Now What Do I Do?
Sign up for this webinar tomorrow (17 March) on breaking into climate careers by Work on Climate.
Enrol for this free online course on unpacking the science of happiness and fulfilment. Starts 30th March.
TRY SOMETHING NEW
Download this free planner to help you identify and integrate happiness into your day.
Tune into the Tech for Justice Unconference 2022 on the 30th March! Tickets are free with promo code GREENFIX.
Register free for the virtual International Cooperation Forum on 31st March-1st April for two days of panel discussions and events.
CHANGE THE SYSTEM
Calling students! Apply to be a Millennium Fellow for a semester-long program to scale up your social impact. Deadline 31st March.
Apply to be a Global Solver for this 8-month leadership training programme by the Melton Foundation. Deadline 31st March.
Register to take part in the Economic and Social Council Youth Forum to tell the UN how young people want to transform the world. Deadline 7th April.
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