Originally published on ecoanxietyblog.com on January 26, 2021
The start of 2021 seems like the most appropriate time to set New Year resolutions, with everyone determined to make this year better than the last.
As someone who is notorious for making and breaking resolutions, my goal for 2021 is to change my lifestyle. In the aftermath of 2020 (and a 2021 that is not off to a promising start) I have found myself with an accidental resolution that is already changing my lifestyle.
Last year I found it all too easy to get bogged down by the constant stream of environmental disasters and the overwhelming ticking of a clock counting down the minutes until I am twenty seven and the planet that I am supposed to have a future on can no longer be saved.
This negative mindset stemmed from the extreme anxiety that I was feeling about the environment, both its immediate and long term impacts, that kept me from feeling like I was making a positive difference.
To address this eco-anxiety, I now wake up every morning purposefully with a growth mindset and ask myself a smaller question: what can I do today that is beneficial for both the environment and my mental health.
Some of my favorite daily efforts are getting my family to try a new vegetarian meal with me, taking my dog on an outdoor walk, and reading articles to educate myself on climate change.
I spent the beginning of 2020 doing an internship with the Natural Resources Defense Council. My first day was also the first day of their new CEO and president, Gina McCarthy, who made a speech that I will never forget.
She said that 2020 will be the year of no regrets, a year where we will do everything we can to protect our planet.
Then the Covid-19 pandemic hit and consumed our collective existence.
My resolution for this year is to be able to reflect at the end of it with no regrets knowing that I did everything I could for the environment, one day at a time.
If I can wake up everyday and do one green thing and stop focusing on what I cannot control, then I will have accomplished my goal.
Eco-anxiety can consume us in all ways, but I have decided not to let it get the best of me. This will be my year of no regrets knowing that every little thing I do is important.
If I do nothing else but one green thing a day, I will be fulfilled by the knowledge that I did what I could to help the planet.
Maggie Dees is a senior at Salem Academy in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She is a contributor to Eco-Anxiety Blog and heatherwhite.com.