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]

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