Sustainability Tip: Maintaining balance in the face of challenges


By Terry Gips, Alliance President

After reading an Alliance post, a friend asked how I maintain my emotional wellness amidst the realities we face with climate and other global challenges. I start by acknowledging them and the feelings we have. I use various strategies taking deep breaths, going for a walk in nature, talking with a friend (or my therapist) or using the tools of Non-Violent Communication to look at both my feelings and the unmet needs underneath them.

It does help that I’ve had several near-death experiences that put the challenges in perspective and make me grateful for each breath, each moment. I also remember that there are many times before when I’ve had feelings of overwhelm and hopelessness (especially after an election) and survived, even if many people and the planet aren’t doing so well.

I also recognize how much privilege and power I’ve been given and feel the responsibility to speak up and act for those who are struggling far more than me. I see the feelings of overwhelm that I have as a small wake-up call to address the far larger struggles of others and the opportunity to make a difference.

At the same time, I focus on self-care with daily meditation/prayers, yoga, biking with my dog, playing sports with my kids, and eating delicious healthy organic vegan food so I can maintain my emotional and spiritual well-being to prevent becoming burnt out or depressed. I am blessed to be able to do deeply meaningful and impactful work 5 days a week with great people who share my vision and commitment to sustainability, health, equity and kindness. It’s a joyful journey of service that inspires me and which I feel makes a difference.

And finally, I stop work Friday evenings and Saturday to have a true Sabbath where I’m free of all the challenges and have the opportunity to relax, be with friends, family and Creation and experience a state of Radical Amazement (as Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel said) about the extraordinary gifts we’ve been given. It makes a huge difference in my life and allows me to refresh and renew each week.

I hope that helps and welcome your thoughts.

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