Kids Help Phone knows that young people across Canada are experiencing the effects of climate change. It may be on your mind as you learn about it from the news (like the 2021 United Nations and UNICEF reports on climate change), peers, parents / caregivers, teachers and / or social media. You may also be experiencing it directly if you’re living in an area facing extreme weather / environmental crises (e.g. fire, flood, etc.).
The lands, waters and wildlife in Canada play an important role in our mental health and well-being. Thinking about the future and the effect of global warming on our planet can be overwhelming at times. If the impacts of climate change are causing you to experience distress, anxiety, hopelessness, guilt, anger, etc., you’re not alone. Here are five tips you can try to work through your emotions and support change.
Tip #1: Identify your feelings about climate change
To start, you can check in with yourself to understand what climate change may be bringing up for you. Taking some time to assess your thoughts and feelings can support your mental health and help you decide on next steps. You can:
- Take a self-assessment to reflect on your feelings and discover resources that may be most helpful to you.
- Try journaling to give yourself a space and a structure to record your thought patterns and emotions.
- Practise self-awareness to pause on key moments / events and learn more about how you think about the world and how you fit in to it.
Tip #2: Try coping strategies to support your wellness
Once you have a better understanding of how you’re doing, you can consider what you may be needing. Some people like to use coping strategies if climate change is bringing up strong feelings for them. You can:
- Practise mindfulness to take your mind off distressing thoughts and ground yourself in the present moment.
- Follow a breathing exercise to relax, steady yourself and centre your mind and body.
- Try a grounding activity to release muscle tension and connect to your surroundings.
Tip #3: Take action to support change — one piece at a time
Taking action against climate change in whatever ways fit for you can help support both the planet and your mental health as you move from feelings into planning mode. Rather than trying to do everything, deciding on one or two actions can be a useful place to start. It can be helpful to remember that many people (including experts!) are working on ways to address climate change, too. Here are some other ideas:
- turn off the lights when you leave a room
- start / join a recycling program at your school
- invest in reusable products / reduce plastic waste
- contact a government representative and share your thoughts
- volunteer with a climate advocacy group
- plant a community garden
- share facts / tips from environmental leaders on social media
- check in with a loved one on how they’re feeling about climate change
You can also check out the following people and resources for more info on climate change, your wellness and ways to get involved:
- 14-year-old Climate Striker @sophiamathur on Twitter
- Climate change from a kid’s perspective (CBC Kids News)
- Chief Water Commissioner for @anishinabeknation @autumn.peltier on Instagram
- Climate Kids (Government of Canada)
Tip #4: Practise self-care
Being an advocate for change can be rewarding — and draining. Finding a balance between activism and self-care can help you sustain your mental health and well-being. Giving yourself space to take a break, recharge and focus on other things that are meaningful to you can help with this balance. You can:
- Build a self-care checklist to find ways to be kind to yourself every day.
- Fill out Kids Help Phone’s Wheel of Well-Being to note how different areas of your life connect and where you may need more balance.
- Try an instant stress buster to help you relieve worries / fears and do something you enjoy.
Tip #5: Reach out for more support as needed
Getting in touch with others when we need help (or just someone to talk to!) can help us find new ways of thinking, comfort and inspiration. Here are a few people and places you can try for more support:
- Search Resources Around Me for programs and services nearest your community that may be helpful to you, such as health, housing and advocacy supports.
- Join the Peer-to-Peer Community at Kids Help Phone with other youth in Canada to discuss climate change, mental health and more.
- Connect with your community of support to discuss how you’re feeling, ways to get help and ideas for taking action together.
If you’re worried about climate change, there are things you can do to take care of yourself and take action. If you’d like to talk about how it’s affecting your life, you can reach out to Kids Help Phone 24/7 for support.