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How I turned my eco-angst into eco-action (and you can too).

For two whole weeks I spent hours researching, reading, finding out more; obsessively digging up the details of this massive crisis and wondering why no one was really doing much about it. I didn’t feel like eating, wine became a coping mechanism and I stopped sleeping. It would take me ages to drift off as thoughts and images whirled around in my head. And when I did finally sleep, I’d wake with a racing heart full of fear.

What was the cause of this panic? Climate Change.

I can remember the exact moment that the true extent of the climate crisis, and what it might mean for my children, finally hit me, like a ton of ice. It was spring 2019. I was at my parents’ house and we sat down together one evening to watch the BBC documentary, ‘Climate Change; the facts’, narrated by the venerable David Attenborough.

Typically, my mum fell asleep within minutes (I swear, she’d actually snore through the end of the world if it was aired on TV between 8 and 10pm). But my dad and I sat glued to the screen, deep grooves in our foreheads illustrating the deeper concern arising within. The images still haunt me. Great chunks of lush rainforest turned to dust and an orangutan trying to chase away a bulldozer.

But mostly it was the words. For the first time I heard the phrases, ‘tipping points’ and, 'negative feedback loops' which is basically, the point of no return in terms of global warming. It illustrates the fact that certain consequences of planetary warming only serve to perpetuate the problem. And then I realised that it wasn’t just the suffering and extinction of many of Earth’s other animals we should be worried about, it was our own. Or at the very least – our life as we know it.

Already people were losing livelihoods or fleeing their homes or worse, actually dying because of the effects of climate change. I was appalled yet unsurprised to hear that once again, the actions of the rich nations were causing harm to the poorer, and women were much more likely to feel the consequences of climate change than men.

I began to fear for this beautiful planet and my children’s future on it. My anxiety sometimes verged on panic. I was experiencing classic ‘analysis paralysis’ as I was learning more but doing less. My health coaching business suddenly felt meaningless. I wanted to give it all up and do something that really ‘mattered’.

But once normal life with kids and work and school runs took over again, I managed to take a breath, step back and look at what I could do rather than worrying about what I couldn’t. That was the turning point.

Over the next couple of years I began to turn my anxiety into action. It’s all too easy to feel powerless in the face of something so huge but I joined protests in London and Bristol, and, along with hundreds of others, I made demands on the streets for the Government and the media to 'Tell the Truth' and 'Act Now'.

Peaceful protest movements in the past have contributed to massive social change like Women’s right to vote and the abolishment of slavery, so while the change isn’t immediate, I finally felt part of something bigger, something that really might make a difference.

The sense of camaraderie, joy and hope I felt standing alongside people of all faiths, ethnicities, genders and ages, was a real balm to my anxious soul.

I then took some road-cycling confidence lessons so I could start using my bike more and my car less. I even wove this new found skill into my business, doing ‘Pedal PT’ sessions for small groups of women. I started an online health and fitness programme that supported other mums to make eco and health conscious lifestyle changes, giving 15% of the income to TreeSisters charity.

I became inspired by a local climate action group to set up my own with a friend. We may not be saving the world with our litter picks and awareness-raising events, but we are saving my sanity and making a contribution.

And of course I made personal changes at home like consuming less dairy (I’m already a vegetarian), always buying second hand and looking for plastic free alternatives to many things.

Now, I’m taking a break from the fitness world to write about all things health, of people and planet. And each time I read too much world news and the flight, fight or freeze response is triggered in my brain again, I fight, no matter what the odds. As the suffragettes and abolitionists have done before me. And you can too - in whatever ways you choose. Don't overthink it, just act - just do - just talk - just write. You may not be able to save the planet single handedly, but it will save your sanity.

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