with this newsletter we would like to give you some thoughts on how to deal with climate anxiety. On March 25th, we occupied the streets again to demonstrate for peace & (climate) justice. During such global climate strikes, we often feel a special energy: we feel less alone with our fears and despair, briefly forgetting our feelings of powerlessness. This gives us strength and hope again ✊
But it can certainly happen that we feel overwhelmed and lame in the face of the climate and biodiversity crisis, as well as other major crises of our times (not least the pandemic and the war in Ukraine).
- What to do when all of a sudden it becomes too much?
- What coping strategies do I have at my disposal?
- Where can I ask for help when my personal resources are not enough?
A comprehensive answer to these questions would go beyond the scope of this newsletter, but it is important to us to provide you with some resources and basics tips to take care of yourself 🤗
Climate anxiety, “solastalgia“, “Weltschmerz” (“worldsuffering”) & Co: the psychological consequences of the climate & biodiversity crisis.
In recent years, various terms have become widespread in an attempt to describe the range of psychological issues caused by environmental change and destruction. Recently, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) emphasized in its latest Assessment Report (February, 2022) that climate adaptation measures must take into account, among other things, the psychological consequences of climate change, since it leads to increasing psychological challenges, stress, and anxiety.
The climate crisis is already leading to post-traumatic stress disorder and depression, especially among communities affected by extreme weather events or evictions. MAPA (“Most Affected People & Areas”) face direct traumatic experiences such as destruction, loss, or abandonment of their homes. The word “solastalgia” accurately describes the pain and grief of losing one’s environment and its security (Albrecht, 2006).
In particular, people who are intensely concerned with the climate and biodiversity crisis, climate justice and sustainability often feel burdened by various unpleasant feelings: hopelessness, overwhelm, anger against inaction, sadness, powerlessness, despair…. These various facets of climate anxiety are often triggered and reinforced by information overload. Therefore, we think it is important to point you to these tips for conscious and targeted consumption of news. 📲 These tips are in German but here you can find a similar and more specific article in English How to Deal With News Anxiety – Headspace
Doubts about studies & activism
From conversations in our circles, we have noticed that insecurities and fears about our present and future often lead people to question the meaning of their own studies, commitment and activism. Why am I doing / learning this for? Especially among students who deal a lot with sustainability and questions of the great transformation, climate anxiety and similar emotions are becoming more and more present 🤔 If this is also the case for you, you can, for example, turn to the university’s Student Counselling Service service or take advantage of one of the assistance and counseling services offered by the Psychologists and Psychotherapists for Future (see below).
Personal experience & tips for dealing with global crises.
“The worst moments for me are when I realize that all of our crises are somehow connected. It’s that complexity, which overwhelms me. The feeling of being stuck in a dead end. Sometimes I have the impression that the more I inform myself about the state of our planet and our society, the more hopeless I become. In the last few months, I have learned to identify my coping mechanisms to such uncomfortable feelings: for example, I love listening to podcasts, yet I don’t feel like listening to podcasts about sustainability or climate. I’m afraid I’ll get triggered by them again, even though some podcasts actually have positive messages. Basically, I avoid dealing with the climate & biodiversity crisis any further. That’s why I want to find a way to deal with global crises and information overload. How can I turn this fear into power to engage further? I feel this is a process, which will accompany me my whole life. So far, I have identified the following aspects that are important to me in a healthy approach to the climate crisis and other global crises.”
⚠️ Disclaimer: these coping strategies are in no way a substitute for professional guidance, but are intended as a low-threshold self-care. It is important that everyone finds their own approaches that are good for them and can best help them.
🚦 Pay attention to my resources: Where do I put my energy? How can I balance things by taking breaks and spending my free time? It’s not selfish at all to withdraw and leave tasks to others. “Self-care, of course, does not exclude caring for others and the planet” (from the episode “Self-Care” from the podcast “Klima im Kopf”)
Introduce an “energy level check“, paired with a specific action in your everyday life: e.g. if you have to wait at a red traffic-light, ask yourself what your energy level for different activities is at the moment.
🖐️ Experience self-efficacy: Where can & do I want to get involved? At the local, regional, global level….
🔝 Setting priorities in one’s own commitment: How much of my time do I want to dedicate to a project? I don’t have to get involved in all kinds of actions when I realize it’s going to be too much. In this case, quality is more important to me than quantity.
📻 Paying attention to my news consumption: Where & how long a day do I inform myself? Pay attention to unconscious coping mechanisms such as avoidance / repression!
✍️ Process feelings e.g. through mindfulness exercises, journaling, artistic pursuits (collage, crafts,…), spending time in nature,…
In this thorough introduction to climate anxiety you can find more thoughts on how to deal with anxiety, not only on the individual level, but also on the group and societal level. As we wrote in the first newsletter on exam anxiety, “shared stress – half the stress”. Especially when you feel overwhelmed, just having the courage to share your fears with others can help. Especially in engagement groups, the time for sharing can be too short, when you are busy with planning, orga, requests, public relations & Co. Therefore, it can be very helpful and reassuring to consciously take time to talk about worries and uncertainties. You will soon learn that you are no longer a lone-warrior 🤝
Here’s some more helpful info: “Self-Care for World-Care.”
Leuphana’s Student Counselling Service offers open office hours on Wednesdays & Thursdays, as well as individual consultations.
The Psychologists & Psychotherapists for Future (Psy4F) have collected numerous tips for dealing emotionally with the climate crisis, as well as specific questions for self-reflection
Here’s an introduction to self-care and a worksheet to help you pay attention to your basic needs and regenerate your energies for your commitment
Open discussion groups from Psychologists for Future: on the 21st of each month (via Zoom).
Info & Registration ➡️ Support for Activists and engaged people – Psychologists for Future.
📲 Telegram channel (in German) Achtsamkeit für Engagierte Every two weeks, engaged people meet to share thoughts about mindfulness & activism and discuss about topics like resilience & self-care.
📩 Newsletter – Psychologists for Future (from the German group)
🎙️ Podcast: Klima im Kopf – Der Psychologists for Future Podcast General podcast recommendation: Danke gut! Der Podcast über Pop & Psyche (Miriam Davoudvandi).
📗 Book (in German): Climate action – Psychologie der Klimakrise: Handlungshemmnisse und Handlungsmöglichkeiten. Verfügbar über Lux. Both podcasts and book-recommendations are in German, so if you know some podcasts dealing with these topics in English, feel free to drop us an email with the suggestion.
Trigger warning: This newsletter deals with the topic of performance pressure and exam stress.
With this newsletter we would like to share with you some thoughts on mental health during the exam period. These weeks in the study are already in a normal semester, always a great challenge and often associated with stress. In a pandemic that has been going on for two years, these effects are automatically amplified.
The good thing is that no one is alone in this and together we can try to support each other as best we can. 🤝
Learning and writing together
Shared stress is half the stress. Many people find it helpful to share their exam preparation with fellow students. On the one hand, because we can support each other in studying, and on the other hand, because it can often be very reassuring to talk about fears and uncertainties about the exams. This may be difficult at first, but you will see that your fellow students are struggling with the same worries as you are.
Recreational activities & breaks – creating balance
Just as important as studying for an exam, is finding the right rhythm. Many students use the so-called Pomodoro technique to establish a good balance between studying and breaks.
We have presented this and other learning methods on our website.
At the same time, you should also make sure that you do not miss out on longer breaks and leisure activities during the exam period. If you still don’t know what to do to pass the time, take a look at our calendar of events.
Good to know to take the pressure off
Many uncertainties and fears can often be solved by talking to someone who really listens. You can come to the university’s student advisory service with all your questions! Whether you have doubts about your course of study, are unsure about planning your modules, or have questions about learning techniques, stress management, and exam stress, you’ve come to the right place. The Student Advisory Service offers open office hours on Wednesdays & Thursdays as well as individual consultations.
The Studierendenwerk has also published a helpful handout on the topic of “Exam Anxiety”. You can find the flyer here.
Long Night of postponed Papers (AStA): 14.03. in Wintersemester and 14.09. in Summersemester.