The first thing to do in any crisis is to take care of you and others. 

Some of us have lost a lot. Some of us have watched from a distance, feeling powerless.

We are angry. We are sad. We are in pain. We are in need of some care.

Here are some tips and excellent resources on sustaining you – and those close to you – for the long haul of building a better world.

Remember: We are the champions for this planet. Together we are an unstoppable movement, insisting on a survivable future. 

Be kind to you

Your instinct might be to put others first, to say, “I’m ok” without even thinking. You might think, “I have it nowhere near as bad as others”. 

But we are all important, and having an honest check-in with how you feel is a great starting point for feeling better, listening to you, and cultivating self-compassion.

For decades now, the road to climate action in Australia has been long and bumpy. As the scale of the climate and mass extinction crisis becomes clearer and we experience setbacks, grief and anger can be overwhelming.

It can be difficult to help others if you’re not ok yourself. So, to start healing, and helping, make sure to find time to be kind to you. Here are some ways you can:

  • Take time to do pleasurable activities, even when normal routines and outlets are not available. 
  • Practice deep breathing, meditation, and other calming techniques to gather your thoughts and emotions.
  • Switch off your devices or set aside some time to be away from climate change talk and the 24/7 news cycle.
  • If you can, go out into a lovely place in nature, like a forest or beach, to re-invigorate.
  • Be creative. Write poems, make art, sing, dance, garden – tap into your creative and imaginative brain, and have fun doing it.


Connect with people

The bushfires have devastated communities, nature and wildlife – and this can make connecting with the things we love difficult. 

But having people around us can help us get through tough times. 

While you might feel like withdrawing from the world, reaching out to others can help improve your wellbeing. It can also help the people you connect with.

Trying times unite us – bring out our best. Here are some ways you can connect with others:

  • Reach out to someone you can talk with about your emotions freely.
  • Invite a neighbour over for a cup of tea. Use this as a chance to get closer to someone in your community.
  • Spend more time with family – Call your grandmother. Play a card game with your kids. 
  • Connect with animals! Play with your pet. Leave water out for thirsty wildlife. Plant wildlife-attracting flowers and watch birds, bees and bugs do what they do best


Caring for your mental health

If you need to talk to someone, there are a range of mental health organisations that provide professional phone and online counselling 24/7, free of charge. They also provide lots of online resources and can put you in touch with additional help and services. 

If you've been directly affected by the bushfires, you can access free mental health and trauma care, including 10 free mental health support sessions. 


Take action

Maybe the events of this summer have you itching to confront the climate crisis and take action for people and planet. Here are four things you can do to help solve the climate and bushfire crises, now:

  1. Speak up for real action  sign the open letter and meet with your local MP to demand climate action and to protect, restore and fund nature.

  2. Talk and listen – share your story, have conversations in person and online to connect the dots between these bushfires and climate damage.

  3. Donate – support First Nations communities and first responders and ACF’s long-term work to ramp up climate action in Australia.

  4. Join the movement join your local ACF Community group or attend a welcome event.


Additional resources

Check out these activist resources for self-care and dealing with burnout and distress:

Kelly O’Shanassy

CEO of the Australian Conservation Foundation.