Updated: Jul 24
Author: Mei-Ling Patterson (She/Her)
Editor: John O'Connor (He/Him)
3-Week Reflection Prompt Challenge for Climate Activists, Organizers and Engaged Citizens
With the never-ending cycle of news stories related to the wellbeing of the Earth and our communities, it is a natural response to feel an overwhelming sense of eco-grief or anxiety towards the present and for our futures. For climate activists, these feelings can encourage action to support a healthier planet, and these feelings can cause a sense of despair that discourages taking steps toward potential opportunities. How do we address eco-grief and eco-anxiety head-on? Acknowledging their presence in our lives but not letting them influence our activism in a negative way?
Climate optimism and the practice of climate dreaming are two vital ideas that help centre and balance our feelings towards the environment. These practices do not deny there is a climate crisis in order to overcome our feelings towards it. Instead, we can have a better outlook on our collective future by dreaming about the kind of climate-change-prepared communities we wish to create and support. But in order to create or support important work being done, we, as climate organizers and activists, need to be sure we are ready for it, and an important part of that is through having enough rest.
Too often, we fall into the trap of thinking that working for as many hours as we can until the point of burnout is how we can be most productive and provide the most for the causes for which we care. However, as a loving act of resistance against this idea, we challenge this narrative by encouraging rest infused with climate optimism, to show gratitude for your mind, body, communities and the Earth for everything they provide.
To help kickstart this shift in thinking towards climate dreaming and optimism, we have crafted a 21-day journaling exercise to encourage daily moments of Rest, Recovery and Resistance. Why 21 days? Some say it takes 3 weeks to make a new habit, and so we hope these days are some first steps towards a better sense of wellbeing. Also, feel free to reflect on the prompts in any way you see fit! While writing in a journal is always a classic go-to, use your own favourite form of expression by reflecting through photography, artwork, music, or even going on a walk or run and meditating on it. Whatever makes you feel most connected to yourself, your community, and the world around you is always the best way to engage. These are also great conversation starters to share with your loved ones or can be used as ideas to continue to show your gratitude for yourself and others!
Today is the start of a new beginning of loving and caring for yourself. Intentionally plan something today that you know will bring you joy – whether it's going to your favourite coffee shop before work, calling a loved one you haven’t spoken to in a while, setting aside some time for creative work like doodling or playing music, or visiting your favourite outdoor space (depending on the weather). After doing so, think about how you can continue to plan more daily moments of happiness in your life!
Reflect on the nourishment that you need today or even right at this very moment. It might be nourishment for your body by spending some extra time in the kitchen making a new recipe that you’ve always wanted to try, it could be nourishment for your soul by rewatching your favourite old movie, it could be taking a long nap after a hard day, or doing your favourite outdoor activity, or maybe all of these. Most importantly, always honour yourself and your intuition by going with what feels good.
Think about a figure who has greatly inspired your work, studies, or activism. Remember what knowledge or perspective they shared with you that made such an impact on your life. Now, if you want, get creative by planning the ideal outdoor adventure with them – where would you go? Would you explore somewhere new or take them to your favourite outdoor spot? What would you ask them? It may not be possible to go on this trip with them, but thinking it out can inspire a trip you do take one day, or the exercise can show you what you value about this person.
Think about a time or a space in which you faced resistance or adversity in your studies, work, or climate activism. How were you able to overcome it? What advice would you give to others if they were faced with similar circumstances? What do you wish you could have told your past self at that moment? It may be painful to remember such an event, but remembering how you overcame it and how you would help others with the same issue can be an important step towards feeling at peace with that time or space.
What are you most proud of yourself for accomplishing? So often, we complete a goal or a project, and we only are able to celebrate it at that moment or only shortly afterwards. Graduations can come and go quickly, despite how many years it takes to get there. Today, take the time to honour and celebrate yourself again for all which you have accomplished and what you will continue to do.
Be a reason someone else smiles today! Intentionally plan to bring joy to someone else today (or many someones) by bringing your favourite coworker their favourite coffee to work or sending a text message to a friend to encourage and remind them how amazing they’re doing. No matter how big or small the gesture may seem, every act of kindness matters.
Congratulations, 🎉✨ you’ve completed the first week and are ⅓ of the way there! Celebrate by exploring a new outdoor space near you. If you’re in need of some help searching, check out AllTrails - all of their trails are verified by experts and reviewed by their global community of adventurers.
Reflect on what or who has been instrumental in instilling your connections with nature and what has inspired you to protect the outdoors. Listen to Episode 2 of our podcast Establish, connections with nature to hear some stories about the importance of grounding yourself in the space around you.
As climate activists, grief is, unfortunately, something we’ve become accustomed to through engaging with the climate news cycle. Think about your favourite outdoor space and what makes it so special to you, is it because of the memories you have there? The people you’ve gone there with? The scenery or view? Has this place changed at all yet because of climate change, if not, how do you expect it to change or to continue to change? How can we organize as a collective to mitigate the effects of climate change on this place, and what can we do to adapt to it?
What is an outdoor sport and/or activity that you’ve always wanted to try or learn? Set up a plan within the next few months to make it happen!
Get to know the biodiversity around you! Return to your favourite outdoor space and challenge yourself to identify 5 different plants and/or animals. If you need help, check out these resources.
What is your favourite food or meal? Reflect on its origins and what has led you to love it so much. Honour yourself and all your hard work by making it for yourself or ordering it from your favourite spot.
What do you love most about being an activist? Do you remember why, what, or who led you to get involved in this work and movement? Most importantly, reflect on the joy that it has brought you – think about the people you’ve met, the relationships which you’ve been able to form, the opportunities and experiences you’ve had, the places you’ve been. Remembering how activism connects you with your community can help feelings of isolation when work may be remote or feel individualized.
Congratulations, you’re ⅔ of the way there! 🎊❤️🔥 Set aside the time today to visit a place which makes you feel calm, maybe it’s your local park, a community garden, or a loved one’s home. How have you noticed yourself and your perception of your surroundings change over the past couple of weeks?
Throughout most of the past few weeks, we have encouraged you to centre joy, we know that encouraging positivity all the time can be just as toxic as the eco-anxiety or grief that many of us are experiencing. This is a gentle reminder to rest and take care of yourself and that it is perfectly normal and healthy to feel negative emotions. Allow yourself the space to resist toxic positivity by resting and validating yourself.
As activists, we’re often looking out for what can be done to ensure that communities and the environment around us are protected. When we offer assistance or support spaces for healing, sometimes we put our own need for healing on the back burner. Reflect on what it is that you need personally or professionally to ensure that you are given the space to heal from anything which you may be grieving and to ensure that your safety and boundaries are protected.
Make the time today to speak with a loved one who has expressed interest in your activism, the work and initiatives in which you've been involved in. Story swap and share with them the knowledge which you hold. Remember to honour yourself throughout this practice and process and only do as much you’re able! Take care of yourself before, throughout, and after the process and only share as much as it brings you joy.
Reflect on one of the happiest memories or moments you’ve experienced. Where were you, what were you thinking about, who were you with? How can you intentionally plan for moments like this?
Connecting with non-human living things brings new perspectives and a sense of grounding to a space. What is your favourite plant or animal? What do you love most about it? Can you set aside some time today, this week, this month, or even this year to be able to see and spend time with this plant or animal? Do you notice a change in yourself or your wellbeing when spending time within this space?
Find a safe space, whether it is your home, garden, or with a loved one and select a meditation from Mind Body Soul. Notice how you felt before, during, and after completing this exercise.
CONGRATULATIONS, YOU DID IT! 🍾💫 Reflect on all that you’ve done to honour, love, and care for yourself and others this past month by taking part in this journey. Have you noticed any differences in your mental or physical well-being? Remember to treat yourself to something special today because you deserve it! 😉
Looking for additional prompts for the 21 days (and beyond)? Check out some of the other incredible initiatives and resources doing amazing work within this space:
Circularity Community: a multimedia platform providing accessible mental health resources for anyone struggling with eco-anxiety.
Climate Journal Project: an online community that provides guided reflections and challenges, designed to help you build resilience against eco-anxiety so you can live with greater joy and purpose as we face major environmental changes ahead.
Dr. Jennifer Mullan (She/Her): creates spaces for people and organizations to heal. She believes that it is essential to create dialogue to address how mental health is deeply affected by systemic inequities and the trauma of oppression, particularly the well-being of Queer Indigenous Black Brown People of Color (QIBPOC).
Outdoor Journal Tour: The Outdoor Journal Tour and #wehiketoheal are designed for women who want to dive deeper into their personal development but are bored with traditional self-help methods. Participants will have the opportunity to explore scenic landscapes and hiking trails while being guided through an empowering (and customized) personal discovery process that uses physical activity, journaling and meditation as healing tools. The process includes daily writing prompts, engaging exercises and weekly guided meditations.
The Yumiverse Mindful Coloring Book: colour your way to a peaceful mind, body, and soul with this uplifting colouring book that gives off all the good vibes.
Shake Up The Establishment will also be releasing our very own Climate Dreaming Journal soon! To be the first to hear of its release, sign up for our newsletter (see the footer of our website) and/or follow us on social media.