Welcome back to our weekly roundup of newsy health bits — and sometimes longer bites. How’s your workday going?
Speaking of work… did you know that checking your email first thing in the morning is basically the worst? But it’s cool if you did it just to read this column. 😉 This article by Sarah Garone tells us what we should do instead for better productivity, focus, and well-being.
And in this installment of The Download, I want to talk a bit about well-being in the face of — well — everything that’s going on in the world.
I sometimes wonder if the band Fun regrets that song “We Are Young” from a decade ago. You know the one that goes “So let’s set the world on fire…” Because the U.S. is literally on fire in many places right now. And so are other parts of the world. (And it’s not fun, Fun. Take it back!) We’re also battling hurricane season. And we’ve seen an increase in severe drought, severe flooding, and other extreme weather events.
Ultimately, we are witnessing the effects of climate change. Over the last half century, we’ve already endured a fivefold increase in weather-related disasters. And we’ll likely see more. I tell you all of this not to scare you or to light a fire under your behind. We’ve already got enough flames going on. No, I’m bringing all of this up so that we can talk about climate change anxiety… It’s a thing! A huge thing.
Yep, we can have all the feels about climate change. A global survey of young people conducted by researchers at Bath University found that 60 percent of participants are very (or extremely) worried about climate change. And 45 percent said feelings about climate change affect their daily lives.
“Eco grief” and “disaster fatigue” are terms we can use to describe our feelings. Eco grief can be combination of grieving the past and or aspects of a hoped-for future that will ultimately need to change. Disaster fatigue can result from the onslaught of scary headlines or surviving an actual disaster. Obviously, we’re facing a pandemic right now, so the news has been super extra.
Plus, we can also feel anxiety that we’re not personally doing enough or that changing the course of climate change is somehow hopeless. And we can fear the unknown surrounding natural disasters. And we can absolutely feel rage about elected officials denying climate change. Whew! It’s a lot. Like a lot a lot.
You’re allowed to have feelings and even ugly cry about them. But if climate change emotions are overwhelming you or interfering with your ability to function, here are a few things to keep in mind.
When climate change anxiety feels overwhelming
- There’s a book for that. Check out A Field Guide to Climate Anxiety: How to Keep Your Cool on a Warming Planet by Sarah Jaquette Ray, PhD.
- Preparation goes a long way. An emergency plan, supplies, and a go-bag can empower you in the face of the unknown. Although it’s impossible to prep for everything, you can search what weather events have happened over the past 7 decades in your county.
- Your small changes matter. Sustainability isn’t about perfection. We can do our part to reduce waste and our carbon footprint. But remember to be compassionate to yourself (and others) while you’re being compassionate to Mama Earth. Aim for better not perfect.
- Your vote absolutely matters. Whether you’re voting in a local or national election, your vote counts and is crucial to combat climate change.
- Organizations are working on it. Smart people are heading smart organizations to help tackle the crisis. We all have to do our part, of course. And you can get involved.
- You can talk it out. Whether you share your feelings with friends and fam or talk to a therapist, expressing how you feel can help you cope.
With the Delta variant spreading, we’re hearing more about breakthrough COVID-19 infections in fully vaccinated individuals. Maybe you even know someone who’s had a breakthrough case. We don’t know the exact data on breakthroughs because they aren’t always reported unless the person has been hospitalized or has died.
But hold the phone. Both of those things are rare. Here are updated stats. As of September 7, more than 176 million people were fully vaxxed in the U.S. And since then, about 2,300 people have died from a breakthrough infection and fewer than 8,000 people have been hospitalized for one.
To put that into perspective, currently more than 91,000 people are hospitalized with COVID-19 right spankin’ now. More than 13,000 of them are in the ICU, and more than 6,000 are on a ventilator.
So what are the chances of developing a breakthrough case? A New York Times analysis found that fully vaccinated people have a 1 in 5,000 to 10,000 chance each day. The chance is higher in places where there is less vaccination coverage and lower where there are more peeps who got their poke(s). The infection rate is fourfold in some of the least vaccinated states. I won’t name any names (*coughs* Tennessee).
If we’ve learned anything over the pandemic, it’s that vaccines save lives. But they also help curb the spread of virus transmission. And they not only protect you but also others. Since 1945, when the first flu shot was available to civilians, we’ve had the tools to combat influenza spread. But people gotta get vaxxed.
The 2020 to 2021 flu season was almost nonexistent, thanks to social distancing, good hand hygiene, and mask-wearing measures. But this year, could be a different story. Getting your annual flu shot is always a good idea, unless you fall into one of the rare exceptions of folks who cannot get one.
FYI: The flu results in an estimated 12,000 to 61,000 deaths in the U.S. each year. Compare that to the 375,000 COVID-caused deaths in 2020 alone and the total more than 650,000 COVID deaths so far. And you can see why getting a COVID-19 vaccine is super important. Double FYI: You can get your flu shot and a COVID-19 vax at the same time.
The Wall Street Journal leaked some documents that reveal some alarming info about Instagram. Facebook, which owns Insta, conducted the research. The findings showed the app makes teen girls feel worse about themselves and that, in some cases, using the platform has even led to suicidal thoughts.
Although the research focuses on teens, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that social media can affect anyone’s mental health. Feel free to take a full-on break from it or declutter your portfolio for better boundaries with the app. And if you are having suicidal thoughts, don’t hesitate to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255.