Guest Commentary: Eco-Reps want to help you cope with climate change 

Guest Commentary: Eco-Reps want to help you cope with climate change 

Guest Commentary

Editor’s Note: This commentary is by Makayla Salas ’20, Eco-Reps writing manager

The 50th Earth Day is rapidly approaching, and the UVM Eco-Reps, alongside other partners on campus, are working hard to make the celebration, education, and action events virtual. 

This year, Eco-Reps is focusing on a very crucial component of our relationship to the environment: mental health. We will be addressing the climate crisis’s impact on people’s mental health and emotional well-being.

The strategies and support that we intend to provide others to deal with the climate change crisis are especially important given the effects that the COVID-19 crisis is having on our lives as well. 

Eco-Reps realize that at the end of the day, recycling and composting only go so far. While our individual actions are important because they create positive, sustainable social norms and practices, we also know our individual actions happen in a larger political, sociocultural infrastructure that is not always as environmentally-oriented as we might want or need.

Part of our job is to address the difficult feelings of hopelessness, futility, and despair that comes with living on a planet that is not always well-cared-for.

Activist work in the face of any crisis, whether related to COVID-19 or the climate, is crucial to making necessary policy changes and sociocultural impacts. However, this work cannot be done with a broken spirit. 

Information about climate change and its direct and indirect effects on you can provoke feelings of anxiety, dread, and hopelessness.

Therefore, it is first important to take care of one’s self. Here are some actions Eco-Reps is taking to provide you opportunities for relief when you feel the weight of the world: 

  1. Climate Feels Video: We are interviewing the UVM community their feelings about climate change, and the coping skills they use to manage them. This video will be shown at one of our Climate Film and Conversation Series events. 
  2. Climate Film and Conversation Series: We are hosting weekly screenings of climate-related films over Microsoft Teams, followed by guided discussion about the feelings and thoughts the film inspired among participants. 
  3. Coping with Crises Instagram Series: We are providing almost daily tips for mental health and opportunities for self-reflection on our Instagram page throughout the rest of the semester. 

You can learn more about these efforts through our Instagram (@uvmecoreps) and Facebook (UVM Eco-Reps). 

Lastly, Eco-Reps encourages you to seek out professional resources for help dealing with tumultuous feelings during crises.

Most offices, like CAPS and LivingWell, have converted support services to remote operations and look forward to hearing from you; the most accurate information regarding hours and contacts will be available on their websites.

We hope these resources offer you some solace and community during crises. Remember that part of taking care of the environment is taking care of yourself! 

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