Kermit the Frog is famous for the line, "It ain't easy being green," and though it's actually gotten easier to find eco-friendly products and services, sometimes the extra effort and naysayers can get even the most passionate planet lover down. It's true for anyone who is socially active, not just environmentalists; those who work for other causes often report that at times they feel burnt out trying to change a world that sometimes seems set in its ways.
What to do when feeling discouraged, frustrated or angry? Here are some of the coping mechanisms I've learned over the past 15 years of advocating, working and arguing for the environment.
Take a comedy break: There are plenty of silly, funny movies out there that you can watch for free. One of my favorites is "The Big Lebowski," which never fails to crack me up. Laughter really is the best medicine, especially when you are bumming about how much you have yet to do and it seems insurmountable. Getting your mind completely off the subject and watching human beings being as goofy as possible ("Dumb and Dumber" or "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" are great, too) helps you realize that even though it's serious, it's almost never THAT serious.
Get into nature: Sometimes we can forget exactly what we are fighting for. When I get particularly morose, I head to the woods or my local beach. Digging my feet in the sand (even if it's cold), watching the waves and the birds, or getting my heart rate up on a forest path never fails to both bolster my resolve (THIS is what I'm fighting for!) and also serves to help me calm down.
Go for a run, swim or yoga class: Get yourself out of your head and into your body instead. It's basically a distraction from what's bugging you, but it's a healthier one than downing half a six-pack. And all those endorphins and feel-good chemicals inherent to working out are bound to make you feel better.
Read up on inspiring leaders: Anyone who has ever worked to make a difference has had dark days, disappointments and setbacks. Many of our most revered leaders faced jail time, expulsion, torture and worse on their road to making change. Check out the writings or biographies of Rachel Carson, Martin Luther King Jr., Jane Goodall, Wangari Maathai, Henry David Thoreau, Dian Fossey or Al Gore. Just reading their Wikipedia pages is inspiring!
Have a cocktail with non-environmentalist friends: Sometimes all it takes is a change of setting, a well-mixed drink and a friend or two who want to tell you all about the impossibly ridiculous gossip going down at their office (or their kid's crazy antics) to take your mind off your worries. After all, being obsessively neurotic and only thinking about eco-issues all the time is not going to save the world. You deserve to enjoy being human, too.
What do you do when you are bumming about the state of the planet?
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