September 6th, 2011

10 Ways to Stay Sane in a Crazy, Toxic World

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Green Tree Hugger

As we go through our daily lives we are bombarded with information overload. We are overwhelmed with products claiming to be green and pressured to act and think a certain way –the media, our friends and family-everyone has an opinion.  While our goal is very simple: to make good choices for ourselves, our family and the planet- the means to get there is anything but simple. How do we sort through it all?

If each of us had all the time in the world to devote towards finding what’s truly green we quite possibly still wouldn’t have all the answers-there’s just that much information to process. There are times when I just want to let my kids be kids, but inside I’m panicked about the Popsicle they are eating that has synthetic colors or flavors or I think about the toxic cleaning products that are used in their schools. It could all drive me insane if I let it.

Over the years I have gathered a few tips and strategies that have helped me stay sane while on my green journey.

  1. Take small steps. Find what works for you (and that might not be what works for me). Start with your living space and then add when you feel comfortable. This year I made a mid-year resolution to eat local, sustainable food. If each of us commits to making small, simple changes in our lives, together we can create a healthier, safer space for living and ultimately a healthier planet for us all.
  2. Don’t take on more than you can handle. This is a tough one for me-I like to say yes to everything. Focus on changing one or two things-maybe change your cookware or commit to using less plastic. Keep it doable and realistic.
  3. Find community. Your community could be family, friends, online, local or beyond. It doesn’t matter. It always helps to be surrounded by like-minded folks for support, sharing and discussing.
  4. Ditch the self-judgment. We can’t do it all and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. Guilt and self-judgment are harmful rather than helpful. Find self-compassion and be grateful for all that you are able to do. Whatever you do it is making a difference.
  5. You are not alone. We are a community, all striving to make the world a better place for our families and others and together we will make a difference. You aren’t the only one feeling overwhelmed and guilty (trust me; I’ve been there many times!).
  6. Everything in moderation. Again-we can’t possibly do it all so we do what we can. If this means eating organic some of the time, but not all of the time THAT’S OK! Years ago I used to freak out when someone offered my kids snacks that had high fructose corn syrup (HFCS). Now, since I know they’re not eating HFCS most of the time I’m ok with an occasional deviation. Read Paige Wolfe’s book, Spit That Out! The Overly Informed Parent’s Guide to Raising Children in the Age of Environmental Guilt. You will realize how completely normal and unnecessary all of your guilt and self-judgment truly is.
  7. Find your voice. Ask for change on a larger scale. This can be done by joining organizations like Healthy Child Healthy World, which are working to protect our children from toxic exposures. Call or email your representatives and let them know how you feel about the toxins in toys, personal care products and food.
  8. Acceptance. Focus on what you have done-not what you are unable to do.
  9. Don’t get discouraged. There are days when I wake up and wonder if I’m really making a difference. Are my kids healthier and safer because of all we’re doing? Is the world a better place because of the small changes I’ve made? Deep down I know the answer is yes.
  10. Remember every small change makes a difference.

What are your tips for handling toxic information overload?

[Photo used under Creative Commons from Thomas Guest/Flickr]

28 Responses to “10 Ways to Stay Sane in a Crazy, Toxic World”

  1. Great tips, Lori! My coping strategy is generally to get off the internet — way too much info (most of it depressing) comes through my Twitter feed. I find that taking a few days off from the internet and actually getting outside reminds me of what matters.

    Love your point about how we can’t do it all. Life is not zero impact, but we can lighten our footprints and give back however it’s within our means.

  2. I try to follow step #1.. take small steps. I try to take on one new thing at a time and focus on that… I am only one person, but I am determined to provide the safest home for my family!

  3. Hi Kimberly-I try to focus on small steps too otherwise I get very overwhelmed. Each step is an accomplishment and I try to remember that. That’s what I love about blogging and reading all the comments: discovering what everyone is doing makes me inspired. I can “hear” how determined you are through your comment. Keep doing what you are doing!

  4. Thanks Jennifer. Such a great suggestion-to go offline for a few days and spending time outside. There is way too much info that comes through Twitter and other sources and it’s easy to lose perspective. There are days when I’m on a lot and other days I find I need a break. I like how you phrased it “….we can lighten our footprints and give back however it’s within our means.” That really sums it up. Thank you.

  5. Great advice! Looks like we share many of the same thoughts on this topic!

  6. We do share a lot of similar thoughts on this! I think, as you said, looking into your children’s eyes and knowing that you’re doing it for them is most inspiring!

  7. Love this post, Lori! It is crazy information overload, no one could possibly be 100% perfect. The most important thing is that we do what we can, and leave the rest to work itself out. Thank you for these great tips.

  8. I LOOOOVE this post. It really makes you step back and really think about the steps you’re taking while making sure not to overwhelm yourself. I usually say “UGH! why did you use that paper towel, here’s a dish rag” and my hubby is like “huh?” but truly, I am the ONLY one washing dishes so MOST of the time, we don’t have a need for paper towels. Great, thoughtful post!

  9. Oh I love this post! Many times people have an “all or nothing” mentality when it comes to living green and healthy. Since no one can actually have zero impact on the earth, we really need to have a balanced attitude towards it all. Thank you for summing it up so nicely and reminding us to “chill out”. 🙂

  10. This is my first visit to your blog, and I just love this post! Moderation and calm are so often missing in discussions on these topics. But reading your blog has made my blood pressure go down, not up.
    Thank you!

  11. Thanks so much Tiffany. It’s so important not to get overwhelmed and bogged down by what you can’t do. Focusing on all the good that you are doing is what really counts-and you are doing so much good!

  12. It is tough to have the all or nothing mentality-because, like you said, it’s just not possible to do it all! Balance is the key-and I need reminders all the time! So remind me to “chill out” next time I’m loosing it!

  13. Thank you Lynn. You are so right-we all do what we can and that’s perfectly fine. We are all at different points in our green journey and we need to honor that. I love that we are all working together-community is so wonderful 🙂

  14. Hi Julia-thanks so much for stopping by. So true that moderation and calm are often missing when talking “green”. It’s good to have reminders once in a while that we can’t do it all-we can only do some and that’s ok. I’m glad I helped your blood pressure 🙂

  15. I need to read Spit that Out. I think I first heard about it on your blog! I’m so glad to be a few years into this — I was so anxious and overwhelmed in the beginning.!

  16. My comment from yesterday never showed up?

    I’m happy to say it again that I love this balanced and refreshing perspective. The other comments are a pleasure to read too. All these different personalities. All committed to living as close to nature as possible. But knowing we live in the real world too, and that no one was ever guilted or preached into “going green.” Great job, Lori!

  17. Great post, Lori! This reminds me of how to make new year’s resolutions (and therefore, any lifestyle changes) actually stick: make them desirable, specific, measurable, and realistic. Any change is possible if you start small and move at a pace that works for you!

  18. Betsy-Spit That Out is a great read. It does feel good to have a few years under my belt too-although I still can feel very overwhelmed at times!

  19. Thanks Andrea-I’ve found that small changes are the only ones that work and stick. I agree-anything is possible if you make it realistic.

  20. Hi Amity-I didn’t see your comment. Sorry about that. It is nice to know that there are so many of us committed to making a difference. Everyone is at such a different place in their green journey and that’s ok. I know I need reminders all the time that I can’t possibly do it all, but what I am doing is making a difference.

  21. Oh such a great post!! These are wonderful tips and great information!!

  22. Keep the faith! Enjoy your kids’ childhood.

  23. Thanks so much Alicia. It’s hard to stay sane when there’s so much going on. I have to remind myself all the time that it’s doable.

  24. Thank you! Always good to be reminded.

  25. […] for Healthy Child Healthy World. If you’ve been reading this blog for a bit you are well aware of my commitment to this incredible organization and the wonderful people that work over […]

  26. Thanks for much for the great post!

  27. You’re welcome Donna. Thanks for stopping by.

  28. […] 10 Ways to Stay Sane in a Crazy, Toxic World ( Rate this: Share this:TwitterFacebookDiggRedditLinkedInStumbleUponEmailPrintLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. Posted in: Advocacy, Green Parenting, Homemade Fun | Tagged: family, healthy child, Healthy Child Healthy World, Safe Chemicals Act, safer chemicals, Taking Action, Toxic Free Kids, Toxicity, United States Environmental Protection Agency […]

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About Lori

Hi! I’m Lori, a recovering attorney, writer, and mom to three boys. Join me as I uncover and share the latest info on healthy living. Learn more.

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