In the face of unrelenting catastrophes, it is natural to feel anxious, depressed, and discouraged about the future. While these feelings are normal and justified, there is hope—we can adapt our behaviors to mitigate impact on our climate.
MILWAUKEE (PRWEB) November 11, 2021
For World Science Day for Peace and Development, the Society of Behavioral Medicine is addressing three crisis we are facing, and letting others know how behavior change can help mitigate these issues. Climate change is one existential challenge of our time. 2021 is the hottest year ever recorded—and had the most wildfires, floods, and hurricanes in history. In the face of unrelenting catastrophes, it is natural to feel anxious, depressed, and discouraged about the future. While these feelings are normal and justified, there is hope—we can adapt our behaviors to mitigate impact on our climate.
Many are distrustful of science and skeptical about the reality of climate change. Those who do understand climate change often feel powerless, or think that they can’t do anything to improve it. Some are even unwilling to change their current lifestyle—but they are not aware that minor behavior changes can drastically make a difference. So on World Science Day for Peace and Development, the Society of Behavioral Medicine is sharing ways anyone can make a difference.
Try to be less car dependent. For short distances, try walking or taking a bike or a scooter. Active transportation provides additional exercise and reduces your carbon footprint. If you live in a metropolitan area, you can easily find bike lanes and shared bike systems. Hilly terrain or cold temperatures don’t deter people from using bikes. In fact, a recent survey shows San Francisco and Minneapolis as the topmost bike-friendly cities in the US, despite hills and colder temperatures.
Eat more meat-free meals. Reducing your meat consumption is good for your health and the environment. Substituting red meat and dairy-based products with plant-based options reduces greenhouse gases, especially since the production of these foods emits the highest levels of greenhouse gas emissions. Eating less meat has been associated with better heart health and lower rates of certain cancers. It’s a win for you and for the environment.
Shop locally. Buying fresh vegetables from local farmers’ markets is a great way to stay healthy, as these foods are often grown organically. Plus, you get to support a local business! If you shop locally, your environmental footprint also diminishes, as your food was not shipped globally. Organic food keeps soil and water healthier, which reduces the amount of environmental toxins you’re exposed to.
The threat of climate change can also take a toll on our mental health. Feelings of distress, sadness, anxiety or anger may persist in the face of climate change. Some people try to avoid the topic altogether in order to cope with these feelings. This approach might bring temporary relief, but is not sustainable or healthy. Instead, protect your mental health with these strategies:
Take a break and do something fun. Avoid burn out by taking a break. Consider the following:
- take a break from the news and stop doom-scrolling
- engage in physical exercise, walking, running, or yoga
- spend deliberate time with your family
Take action. For many of us, doing something is better than doing nothing. Engaging with like-minded others can be uplifting and exciting. You might:
- contact climate groups and become a climate ambassador
- become involved in local politics
- engage in neighborhood activities (e.g., clean-up or recycling efforts)
By making small changes to our habits and behaviors, we can reduce our carbon footprint. If we challenge ourselves to shop locally, use our cars less, and reduce our meat consumption, we can make a positive impact on our health and on the climate.
The Society of Behavioral Medicine (SBM) is a 2,400-member organization of scientific researchers, clinicians, and educators. They study interactions among behavior, biology, and the environment, and translate findings into interventions that improve the health and well-being of individuals, families, and communities (http://www.sbm.org).