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Fear in Uncertainty - Be the change.....

Sometimes we feel overwhelmed by the state of the world. We are tuned in all the time – and it is very difficult to protect yourself from negative news via our phones, computers, television, or tablets. We are smothering in the worries of the world and as a result we can feel helpless to change all that we see that is negatively influencing the environment and the health of everyone and every being on the planet. I must admit that I struggle with this quite a bit. As I watch the forest fires, the impact of pollution, consumerism, greed, and ignorance, I can come to a place of hopelessness and despair, which directly impacts my mental health.

So how can we feel less helpless and more empowered to effect positive change in the world? Here are some suggestions:

Start small – start in your family and in your community. It can feel overwhelming looking at world events and feeling like a little grain of sand in an ocean of people and problems. But what about, chunking down big problems into more manageable bites. Here are some ideas that you can start on today:

1. Pick up trash on your street or in your local park. Positive actions influence others to also pitch in. Also, start looking what you are consuming and throwing out. (See: Junkyard Planet: Travels in the Billion Dollar Trash Trade or

2. Walk or ride your bike to work. Not only is this good for our environment, but it is excellent for your health. In fact, keep in mind the proximity of your work if you are looking to relocate where you are living. (See:

3. Connect with nature through the act of spending time in nature. Spending as little as 10 minutes a day in nature (yes that can even be within your local park) helps one feel happier and reduces physical and psychological stress. This can also help further our affinity for nature and therefore a desire to protect those spaces. (See: Healing Trees: A Pocket Guide to Forest Bathing by Ben Page)

4. Take part in protecting those natural spaces within your community – either through clean-up programs, advocacy programs, or gardening programs using native species.

5. Practice compassion towards everyone that you encounter in your community – particularly towards those who are experiencing sadness, despair and anger. Love and compassion are contagious. It involves releasing judgment and possibly offering a smile, a compliment, or assistance. If you are afraid or lacking understanding about a particular group of people – immerse yourself in understanding and learning. Get to know that person’s experience and/or culture as an insider. Lend yourself to listening, learning, and engaging. (See: The War for Kindness: Building Empathy in a Fractured World by Jamil Zaki; and also Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living by Pema Chodron)

6. Instead of preaching to others – practice your values. Others are more likely to follow what you do, not necessarily what you say.

7. Volunteer for a local organisation that assists a cause that you feel passionate about (e.g., a wildlife rehabilitation program, assisting those who are under-housed or homeless, assisting in re-greening common areas in your community, assisting newcomers to your community, volunteering for your local hospital or hospice, etc.)

And finally, if you are feeling negatively triggered by world events, take a pass on listening or watching the news. This in no way implies that you are apathetic. You do not have to needlessly suffer on your way to making the world (and your self) a better place. Here are some other fabulous ideas:

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