The last few weeks have left me feeling overwhelmed and burnt out. I know our whole family is feeling the weight of our hectic schedule. It isn't exactly the slow living lifestyle that often times is assumed goes hand in hand with sustainable living. When I'm feeling tired and burnt out I usually turn to time saving short cuts around the house which means eating out, prepackaged meals and/or snacks, and easing up on laundry and dishes by using paper and plastic. Now it feels like every decision we make weighs extra heavily because it carries the burden of climate change awareness. In an article from The Globe and Mail, Gideon Forman, climate lead at the David Suzuki Foundation in Toronto, says this about Sustainability fatigue: “It’s a phrase that describes how people feel when they’re bombarded by bad news and start to shut down, or worse, give up,”. Educating ourselves about sustainable living and climate crisis is overwhelming in itself, let alone changing the way we do things every day. Add in keeping up with a hectic schedule and a large family I find myself often feeling guilty for reaching for the paper towel roll instead of a cloth cleaning rag when I glance over at the overflowing laundry basket. I chose shortcuts, not because I don't know better or want to do better, but because I'm overwhelmed with the extra work and management it can take to make a more sustainable option. So what do we do when we feel overwhelmed with sustainability fatigue? Here are a few tips that have helped me.
1) Take a pause on consuming content that is related to sustainability and climate change all together or keep it focused on positive information. Stay away from the negative "climate doom" narrative. Remember that you are not alone, there are other folks and families working to make a difference. It may seem impossible as an individual but all of our actions together do make a difference. Lean into likeminded community for support.
2) Give yourself permission to take a break from the aspects of living sustainably that are stressing you out. Make a plan to pick it back up when you feel refreshed. Our current economic system places the burden of waste management entirely on consumers instead of the companies that are producing products. What we do does make a difference, but it will take the work of our government and economy to support these changes as well.
3) Take some time to reflect. What are the reasons for your burn out and is there anything you can do about it? Can you add less things to the calendar to carve out time to take care of yourself? Are there some things you can be saying no to?
4) While it is true that our actions can either negatively or positively impact our eco-system daily and yes climate change is real, our Earth is living. Over the course of the Earths history that we know, there have been several climate changes and experiences of species coming to life and going extinct. This is all apart of the great mystery of life. Try to remember that we're only human beings, we don't have control over everything.
5) Spend time in nature. Be refreshed by taking time to slow down and reconnect with nature. It is important to work to protect nature, but we are also apart of our eco-system and need time to just BE.
6) Take a deep breath and pat yourself on the back for even caring enough about sustainability to be fatigued. Remember, the issues of climate change are rooted in white supremacy and capitalism. These aren't issues that will be fixed overnight or even in one generation. You are doing a good job, give yourself grace.
I hope these tips help you if you are feeling burnt out with sustainability fatigue. It happens to all of us! I will be practicing these tips myself over the next few weeks!