Exhaustion Syndrome, Sustainability and You
Breathe in and out, slowly.
Feel the breath move down and up your body as you breath.
Try and sink the breath to the lower abdomen, expanding in and out there instead of with your chest.
Imagine a weight is tied to your hip bone gently pulling it down. At the same time, imagine a balloon tied to the top of your spine pulling up. The effect is to gently lengthen your spine.
We commonly hold tension in the face, so become aware of that tension and let the tension go. Explore your face, head, mouth, and jaw looking for points of tension and release what you can. Don't forget to relax the eyes too.
Scanning your body from the head to the feat, try and let go of any tension you feel. Imagine there’s a light or a liquid seeping down the body, and any part of the body it touches relaxes.
Stretch the spine. Relax.
What I just walked you through was a basic meditation exercise from Daoism. There are meditation practices similar to this found in yoga practices, Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, university classrooms, psychiatrists offices, clinical studies, and increasingly on apps. Meditation practices with goals of mindfulness, awareness, and relaxation are achieving mainstream acceptance as a way to ground people, cope with anxiety, and see the world clearly.
There is a condition called “exhaustion syndrome” where those who care about and are involved with causes become overwhelmed by the negative news. With all the bad news about the climate these days it is easy for those of us who care about sustainability to get sucked into and embody that negativity. But we don’t have to give into that cynicism, we can choose to react differently.
According to many modern psychologists, while feelings are inevitable, our reactions are up to us. Instead of letting setbacks in the global environmental struggle paralyze us, with proper awareness and self-care we can learn to process the news then choose to keep working for change. To properly help save the planet, we need to find sustainable solutions on the individual level, bring about sustainable manufacturing, advance scientific fields, and fight a global fast-paced culture of disposability. We have a long and complex fight in front of us, and setbacks are inevitable. So remember to take the time out for self-care, to relax, and to center yourself.
Remember to breathe.