I feel paralyzed by all the problems in the world. What do I do?

I know I’m not alone with my feelings of paralysis when faced with depressing news story after news story. Between climate change, mass extinction, pollution, homelessness, loss of human rights, and murders, all I want to do is curl up in a ball and lay in bed. There are just too many problems for one person to tackle, and I just don’t have the emotional or mental energy to read and learn these topics every single day. But, it doesn’t mean that we each can’t do something. Or do one thing at least. So where do we start?

1. Watch documentaries to inspire and educate yourself about important topics without making it feel like “work”. Surprisingly, Netflix has stocked its virtual shelves with high quality documentaries and docuseries. Instead of binging on mindless tv, put your free time to good use. Some of my favorites include “Dirty Money”, David Attenborough’s “A Life on our Planet”, “Minimalism”, “Explained”, “Our Planet”, “The Keepers”, “Down to Earth”, “Drugs, Inc”, etc., etc….

2. Donate to a worthy cause. This might just be the easiest and quickest thing to do that can make a positive impact on the planet and in someone else’s life. It doesn’t have to be a huge amount either, most websites and charities will gratefully accept donations in any amount. Pick a topic that is particularly close to your heart, do a little online research, and then make a donation via their website. If you want to check the legitimacy of a charity, Charity Navigator is a good place to look.

3. Meditate. When I find myself feeling overwhelmed and paralyzed, I stop what I’m doing and take a few minutes to breathe deeply and center myself. Meditating helps remind us that everything is perfect in this moment, and that we are not our thoughts. I find that I’m more equipped to handle the stressors of the world and stay focused on what I can do instead of what I can’t do when I regularly practice meditation. This helps me lead a more meaningful life, improve my self-control, know that I am enough, and I have more than enough.

4. Next time you need to buy something, try to pick a more sustainable, local option. Remember, each dollar you spend is like casting a vote. You can either vote for the corporate, polluting option or you can be resourceful and creative and choose the local, sustainable option. Yes, it’s easier to click “buy it now” on Amazon, but it’s better to shop local, shop small, and shop green. It’s also more fun! Etsy and Ebay are two of my favorite options for buying handmade and second-hand items and for supporting individuals rather than big companies. Just because you buy it from Amazon or Target doesn’t mean it’s cheaper than buying small and local. The corporations try to trick us into thinking theirs is the best and most affordable, but it’s just another marketing ploy to get you to spend money in their stores. In fact, I would argue that buying local, small and sustainable is actually the better option because you will generally get higher quality items that will last longer and keep the money in the local economy, instead of padding the already well-lined pocketbooks of the mega-rich.

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