Climate Advocates: Ten Tips for Self Care

By Bruce Bekkar, MD

Engaging with our climate emergency can feel overwhelming at times.  To do our best work, we all need to prioritize self-care every day.  Here are some simple practices that will help:

  1. Eat a healthy diet: fresh, local, organic (where possible), and plant forward with reduced fat and red meat will protect your health and boost your energy. Avoid excess sugar, caffeine and alcohol, especially close to bedtime.
  2. Exercise daily: boost your energy, immune system and mood with whatever types of exercise work for you; mix it up! Prioritize fitness, core strength and flexibility. You can build this into your daily routine by swapping out a car ride with a bike or walk to experience health and climate co-benefits.
  3. Get out in nature: take a walk and let the outdoors inside you- the sounds, smells, and sights will revive your energy and remind you of why you’re doing this work.
  4. Practice gratitude: regularly ask yourself, “What am I grateful for at this moment?”  Be genuinely appreciative of all that is right in your world.  Note: it may help to speak these answers out loud.
  5. Make room for your imperfections: being concerned about our climate doesn’t mean you always make the eco-friendly choice. Allow yourself to be human and recognize that others who deny this problem are probably human too.
  6. Manage your news input: you don’t have to take in all the climate news- or any other upsetting stories- as they come out. Take frequent “news breaks” and watch for good news stories to balance them.
  7. Recharge with meditation: set aside time daily to calm your mind. Learn a meditation technique and practice regularly, or just find a quiet place, close your eyes and observe your breath for 20 minutes.
  8. Don’t isolate: spend time often with supportive family and friends. Share your feelings and concerns and also take time to listen to theirs.
  9. Prioritize your sleep: keep regular wake/sleep times; wind down, shut off devices and stop serious work at least an hour before bed; keep your bedroom cool, dark and comfortable.
  10. Remember to acknowledge yourself: few around you will understand the burden you’ve taken on with this work. Take the time to appreciate- and reward- yourself. You deserve it, and remember: the happier and healthier you are, the better for everyone.



Bruce Bekkar, MD, is the Chair of the Climate Action Campaign’s Public Health Advisory Council and a member of the Climate for Health Leadership Circle Executive Committee.


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