Photo: Towfiqu barbhuiya, Unsplash

Give it a rest: How to avoid climate burnout

Top tips from four COP28 attendees

From 3–10 December, the GLF team is in Dubai reporting from COP28. Follow us here for live updates, live-streamed interviews and daily wrap-ups.

Have you ever been told to give it a rest when talking about the climate crisis? Well, maybe you should do just that.

It can be tricky to find the time to take a break when faced with the overlapping crises we see today. But if you don’t take the time to look after yourself, you run the risk of burnout – something that’s already far too common among climate advocates.

Burnout can have serious physical, psychological and emotional repercussions, ranging from headaches and heart palpitations to sleeplessness and a feeling of dread.

But taking a step back is often easier said than done, so, as today is the official day of rest here at COP28, we asked some attendees how they avoid climate burnout when the stakes are so high.

Nicola Chopin

“I think that going to meetings like this is actually one of the best ways to do it. You meet like-minded people who are doing amazing work, and it’s a really good way to put some wind back in your sails.”

Nicola Chopin, project manager, MECCE Project
Jester

“To avoid burnout, I suggest looking at different points, so you don’t focus on one thing, you don’t burn out on that one thing – you switch from time to time.”

Jester, computer science student
Chris Rezendes

“In a way, I think the work itself of making progress is a form of relieving burnout. But if I’m not working, I spend time with family, read off the syllabus, get a lot of sleep, drink a lot of water, reflect a little bit. Nothing too formal, but just get away and recharge.”

Chris Rezendes, chief business officer, Context Labs

“In terms of our own sustainability, it’s important to know that you are in environments that are non-toxic and that you take care of yourself – wellness, longevity and mindfulness.”

Yasmine Mahmoudieh, designer and architect

It’s also important to remember that it’s not all burnout and bad news! A study from 2019 “suggested that the psychological impacts of being environmentally active are primarily positive,” based on over 200 survey responses and interviews. What’s more, those positive impacts can be used as a counterweight to prevent or mitigate burnout.

Have you got any advice on how to deal with burnout? Join the conversation over on the GLF Instagram page to share your thoughts.

Some quotes have been edited for length and clarity.

Article tags

activismclimate changeCOP28

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