DAVE FINOCCHIO, the cofounder of BleacherReport, describes himself as fairly moderate politically and says he assumed climate change was something he wouldn’t have to deal with in his lifetime. Finocchio, 39, lived in San Francisco when he sold Bleacher Report for$214 million in 2012, and soon afterward his attitude toward climate started to shift, as California wildfires caused an extended smoke season in the Bay Area.
It happened again in 2016 and in 2018, when Finocchio and his wife welcomed their first and second daughters onto the planet. “What was previously the nicest time of year was all of a sudden a new reality—living in smoke,” he says. “It made climate change real for me in a different way to hurricanes in Florida. I started paying more attention to what was going on and listening to climate-technology podcasts like My Climate Journey.” He expected it to be a chore but found the innovation and science around climate change fascinating.
“There were all these interesting technologies that can transform our lives, but 95 percent of the climate content out there was aimed at an intellectual audience or was very doom-and-gloom, end-of-the-world-type stuff.”Finocchio’s climate-change awakening mirrors what many feel: Sixty percent of American adults now say that they are concerned that global climate change will harm them personally; what’s more, 74 percent of Americans are willing to make a lot of or some changes in their lifestyle to deal with climate change, according to data from the PewResearch Center. We’re scared and want to do something.
More From Men’s Health
Thomas Doherty, Psy.D., a psychologist based in Port-land, Oregon, has been studying this phenomenon for more than a decade. He published a study in 2011 about the psychological impacts of climate change, including insomnia, anxiety, and depression. In a Zoom interview earlier this summer, Doherty wryly notes that this isn’t the first time in history people have thought the world was going to end but adds that the flood of negative news on social media about extreme storms, blistering heatwaves, and species sliding into extinction makes this potential apocalypse seem more real.
Doherty says many of us feel like “climate hostages”because we don’t have a lot of power to direct the government or corporations to address climate change, so it seems as though we’re stuck on this planet spinning toward immolation. “This especially impacts American men because of our tradition of being self-reliant and rugged individualists,” he says. “Dealing with this anxiety—literally the weight of the world on your shoulders—requires both vulnerability, being honest about your fears, and also figuring out how to sustain yourself.”Doherty has various coping strategies (see “SustainableSelf-care,” at right). The key is recognizing the opportunity to think about your environmental identity—the series of factors that inform your outlook on nature and sustainability—and adjusting your values accordingly.
Many people are doing just that. A record 49 percent of Gen Zers and 44 percent of millennials chose their preferred work or employers based on personal ethics, according to a recent survey from Deloitte, with climate change and protecting the environment as the top concerns of the youngest cohort. This is where Finocchio comes in: This past July, armed with the lessons of building Bleacher Report into a traffic juggernaut, he launched a website, an app, and a newsletter calledThe Cool Down with Ryan Alberti, 40, a Bleacher Report alum and a former Army Ranger.
Their mission statement reads: “The Cool Down encourages and empowers Americans to make transformative choices for themselves and their planet.” Finocchio says the website will amplify the voices of emerging creators across unexpected categories—from finance and home improvement to cars and outdoor sports—with the ultimate goal of making climate content relatable, accessible, actionable, and engaging. They’re not trying to green-shame or badger anyone into making sacrifices, but rather show people that climate may touch on the things they care about. There may be sustainable choices that make sense because they save money, boost health, or make you feel better, says Alberti. Just as BleacherReport built an audience around sports teams, The CoolDown hopes to build content around climate topics.
Alberti, who spent a chunk of his 20s living a zero-carbon-footprint lifestyle, dumpster diving for food and walking everywhere, recognizes the importance of progress over perfection. “It’s about finding a personal niche and contributing to the solution any way you can,” he says. He notes that we live in a society that’s increasingly oriented toward the idea of handing off hard or unpleasant tasks to someone else, tasks that might be as small as cut-ting the grass or as big as fighting a war. “I see that same dynamic at play in the context of climate action: ‘This is an overwhelming topic, so I’m just going to let someone else worry about it.’ I hope that TCD can be part of the solution by showing people all the various ways they can take action. Action is the ultimate antidote to anxiety.”
Pioneering eco-anxiety psychologist Thomas Doherty, Psy.D., uses three strategies to help patients manage their roiling emotions about climate change.
- Create Your Own Nature Timeline
DOHERTY ASKS new patients to do a nature timeline as a way to explore their relationship with nature and better under-stand their environmental identity. Start at birth and go to the present, noting your significant experiences with nature.These can be as simple as taking stock of your pets, seasonal changes, activities you did in the outdoors, and travel experiences. Doing this can help ground you and establish your environmental identity, he says, so you’re not just being pushed around by waves of bad climate news. Naturally, it also propels you to think of the future, what environmental experiences you want to have more of, and sustainability practices you may want to adopt.
2. Upgrade Your Emotional intelligence
WHEN A PATIENT is suffering eco-anxiety, Doherty gives them some homework: Scan a vocabulary list of words describing feelings and sensations on his blog (selfsustain.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/06/Thomas-Doherty-PsyD-Feelings-Senations-Actions-List.pdf). Then highlight the words that resonate with your state of mind. The goal is to help guys identify and express their emotions in more precise ways. Everyone has emotional reactions, he says: You move toward things you like and away from things that are threatening. What you feel is the expression of your emotions, and the words you use, the language and vocabulary, can be expanded. That’s emotional intelligence. Once you can better name your feelings, you can better control them.
3. Reroute Your Anxiety Loop
THE PLANETARY SCALE of the environmental crisis can be overwhelming and lead to an endless loop of anxiety. Doherty says sustainability starts with your self, and he uses “positivity bricks” to help patients build a stronger psychological foundation. He likens it to a pyramid and has patients identify eight to ten key bricks in the foundation, things like exercise, sleep, nutrition, family, and friends. Then he asks patients to focus on how they can strengthen those bricks and review their progress daily. Once you’re managing the daily, he adds weekly and monthly layers of bricks like activities and longer-term goals. Often those involve a social element, like joining a recycling squad or a trail-cleanup group. Figuring out daily, weekly, monthly, and longer-term goals empowers you.
This story appears in the September 2022 issue of Men’s Health.
Ben Court is the Executive Editor of Men’s Health. He has a decade of experience writing and editing stories about peak performance, as it relates to health, nutrition, fitness, weight loss, and sex and relationships. He enjoys yoga, cycling, running, swimming, lifting, grilling, and napping.
This content is imported from OpenWeb. You may be able to find the same content in another format, or you may be able to find more information, at their web site.