Need proper help?

Climate anxiety is real, and specific disasters such as these bushfires can also lead to serious distress and mental illness. Participating in our letter writing is hopefully a useful and valuable activity for you, but its no substitute for professional help if you need it.

In Australia, you can call LifeLine (13 11 14), Beyond Blue (1300 22 4636) if you need to speak to someone about your experience.

The Australian Psychological Society has these resources on bushfires. If you’re a young person, check out Headspace who have a page specifically on the bushfires.

Thinking about climate change more broadly, you might find the Psychology for a Safe Climate website useful. Reach Out also has a brief but useful page, and this longer document, also from the Australian Psychological Society, is also really helpful.

Here are some other tips for managing climate distress, thanks to friends over the years who have helped the list come together:

  • Regulate your information/stimulation intake: e.g. don’t watch documentaries or the news if you don’t need/want to; get off social media
  • Manage your social connections: keep in touch with friends/family/community groups; foster some valuable and supportive relationships while perhaps letting negative/damaging ones fade (or even actively cutting them off)
  • Physical comforts: e.g. healthy/tasty food; massages; blankets on the couch
  • Meditation: e.g. yoga, nature based meditation, generally being mindful
  • Set boundaries: e.g. if possible, timetable when you will engage with climate change/environmental issues and when you won’t; take a break or step back when needed
  • Be grateful for what you do have and value, and take time out to note this and celebrate the beauty around you
  • Engage in artistic, creative practices
  • Keep up the exercise
  • Keep up with your hobbies and other things that bring you pleasure
  • Spend time in nature (if safe and not smoky…)
  • Get enough sleep and rest
  • Ensure you believe what you do (in regards to climate action) is the most effective use of your time/energy/personal skills
  • Engage with your emotions productively, and in safe spaces
  • See a professional: maybe a psychologist, meditation teacher, or other useful professional
  • Check in with like minded others (friends, colleagues, peers) and talk with them about how you are all feeling
  • Develop strategies to “switch off” or “distance” yourself when appropriate
  • Pay attention to when you are engaging empathy (feeling how you imagine others might feel) and when you are engaging in compassion (wanting to help others), and reflecting on when compassion might be more useful than empathy
  • Find some good news stories