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Me and My Climate Anxiety: How Fear Can Drive Change

I am freaking out about climate change. How about you? Yup. The news is scary for me to listen to. It's so hard to know what news to trust these days, but turning to scientists paints a pretty scary picture.

I think I am suffering from Climate Anxiety. Yes, this is a real issue. CNN has a good and empowering article, “Climate anxiety is real, but there is something you can do about it” by Jen Christensen, on this unofficial condition. I am glad there is a growing awareness. In short here are some symptoms: when thinking about about climate change you may have general anxiety, sadness, feelings of loss, feeling of helplessness, lose sleep, have trouble going to sleep, or feel strains on your personal relationships. Do you have similar feelings? I could have benefited from reading that article a year ago. Her clear messages is “finish your pity party and get involved”. I couldn't agree more.

Back in October 2018 I was struck dumb by the Climate Report released from the IPCC. My Climate Anxiety peaked that month. It was tempting to bury my head under the pillows and dream of idyllic forests and oceans teeming with life. Then I emotionally shut down attempting to from the overwhelm of looming environmental disasters. I turned off all the news. I cried. I talked to my therapist. I felt so helpless in a dark empty place. This was my normal for a while, but I woke up one morning to the sound of “thump, thump, thump” footsteps of my 4 year old and knew I had to wake up and start doing something, anything to help change our global trajectory. This was not going to be easy or fun and games. But like waking up early to make sure my daughter gets to school, I grit my teeth and get out of bed for her and her future.

I want to heal our planet, but no one can do that alone. I created Finches to help families to get outdoors and connect to nature so that kids can gain the knowledge and empathy it takes to tackle complex global environmental issues. Finches provides subscriptions to self-led expeditions in local parks so families can easily unplug and go explore the real world together. It’s like Geo-caching with Nature. Finches does not send a bunch of plastic toys in the mail. Instead we send people into nature.

All the work of planning how to get the kids outdoors is done for you. You only have to pick a time to go. Everything else is directed by instructions mailed to your home. For each Expedition Finches provides directions to find a hidden Research kit in a local park. As a family you find the kits and use the supplies within to learn about your area. These fun activities use science and art to engage your kids. Just walk out the door and know that an adventure is ready for you. Afterwards your family will be asking “When is the next Finches Expedition? We want more Research Kits to find!” and scrambling to get back into nature. A few weeks later adventure knocks and the next expedition arrives at your doorstep.

When our children gain a sense of place in the outdoors they regain a symbiotic relationship with our planet and engage with our looming environmental problems. This is Finches' contribution. It is each of us doing our part to look impending catastrophe in the eye and say, “Not Today! Today we are going to work on rebuilding our relationship with our planet one family at a time”. Change starts now, with the ways our kids (and parents ourselves) relate to nature. In 10 years will you think you spent too much time outdoors with your family? Or will you wish you had done more? Do more with Finches today.

What are some ways you get your family and the door to connect with nature?

Further Reading on Climate Anxiety by the American Psychological Association

“Mental Health and Our Changing Climate”

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