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Turn the Tide on Climate Anxiety
Sustainable Action for Your Mental Health and the Planet
- It's hard to watch the news, scroll through social media, or listen to the radio without hearing or seeing something disturbing about the climate emergency. This can trigger all sorts of emotions: worry, anger, sadness, guilt, and even grief but also often over-looked positive emotions like motivation, connection, care, and abundance that support mental health and climate action for sustainable longevity. Written by psychologists with extensive experience in treating people with eco-anxiety, this book shows you how to harness these emotions, validate them, and transform them into positive action. It enables you to assess and understand your psychological responses to the climate crisis and move away from unhealthy defence mechanisms, such as denial and avoidance. Ultimately, it shows that the solution to both climate anxiety and the climate crisis is the same - action that is sustainable for you and for the planet - and empowers you to take steps towards this.
- Megan Kennedy-Woodard and Dr Patrick Kennedy-Williams are founders of Climate Psychologists, which provides individual therapeutic support and wider consultation regarding the mental health implications of climate change. They have done press work with The Guardian, Time Magazine, Vogue Business, ITV, BBC Radio 4, and The Times. They also teach Guardian Masterclasses. Patrick is a clinical psychologist and enjoys getting out into nature, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club (sometimes), Italian food and cycling. Megan is a coaching psychologist who loves the mountains and the sea, could eat Mexican food for every meal and believes there is no such thing as 'too many pets'. Megan and Patrick live in Oxford with their two wild and wonderful children.
- CHAPTER 1: Turn the Tide on Climate Anxiety 8 Incoming Waves: The support takes shape 12 Setting sail: Our journey into climate psychology 18 In the Wake of COVID-19: The Unavoidable Parallels 23 How to get the most from this book 28 CHAPTER 2: What we know about climate anxiety (and what we don't)32 How widespread is climate anxiety? 33 Is climate anxiety a mental health condition? 35 Who does climate anxiety affect? 37 The 'direct' and 'indirect' psychological effects of climate change 37 Young people 39 Earth scientists/sustainability workers 40 Other predisposing factors? 41 Receiving climate messages 42 Facing the climate reality 43 CHAPTER 3: Navigating my responses to climate change 50 Understanding normal responses to threat50 Understanding the Fight/Flight/Freeze (FFF) response 50 Dizziness/Lightheadedness 51 Racing thoughts 52 Visual changes 52 Dry mouth 52 Breathing changes 52 Racing heart53 Sweaty palms 53 "Butterflies", cramps and stomach ache 53 Bladder urgency 54 Take the test: Am I experiencing climate anxiety? 55 Climate Change Anxiety Scale (CCAS).55 What can I do with this information? 57 CHAPTER 4: Climate Emotions 59 Climate anxiety 61 Climate Grief64 Climate Anger67 Climate Depression 68 Climate Guilt69 Positive climate emotions 71 Saying 'Thank You' to your emotions 71 CHAPTER 5: Defenses, biases and climate behavior74 The psychological defenses 74 The Five D's 75 Distance 76 Doom 77 Dissonance 78 Denial79 iDentity 79 My Five Ds 80 Cognitive biases 81 Confirmation bias 82 Status quo bias 83 The 'Thinking Trap' biases 84 Emotional Reasoning 85 "All or Nothing" Thinking 86 The Mental Filter86 Magnification and Minimization 87 Personalization 87 EXERCISE: Understanding your own Eco-Thinking Traps 88 Doomscrolling - A digital rumination 89 CHAPTER 6: Sending Signals; Communication about climate change and why it makes a difference 96 "Climate change has an image problem." 101 Community and connections 103 EXERCISE: Strengthening your climate network 106 Talking about climate change 107 Narrative: The power of stories 109 CHAPTER 7: Laying the foundations for action 116 Finding attunement116 Moving towards Mindfulness 117 Scarcity versus abundance 121 The role of self-efficacy 124 Objects of Care 127 Values 130 The Signature Strengths Survey 131 Challenging our (climate) thinking 134 Stepping stone thoughts.134 Overcoming Thinking Traps 138 STOPP Technique 140 Why self-care matters 143 Getting outside (It's only natural)149 CHAPTER 8: From anxiety to action 155 Sustainable action 155 What action should I take? 156 Impact157 Ease 159 Meaning 160 Motivating change in others 161 Harnessing the power of 'Nudge' economics 162 Are Nudges ethical? 164 Some classic 'Green Nudges'165 Nudging at the table 165 The' Follow the crowd' effect166 Nudges at work 167 The Ethical Nudge project169 The (potential) pitfalls of individual action 169 Perfect gets nothing done 170 Scheduling is self-care 172 Hitting hard-reset173 Values, goals and actions 177 Consciously scheduling 179 Signal and celebrate 183 Feeling OK to feel OK 186 S.E.T.B.A.C.K.s and how to respond to them 187 The S.E.T.B.A.C.K. steps 188 Staying well: Your blueprint (for a greener planet)190 We, together, are unstoppable 191 Endnotes and References 192
- How to understand and manage your psychological responses to climate change to protect your mental health (and the planet)
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