A Step - By - Step Guide for Overcoming Challenges

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I was first introduced to the climate movement on Tuesday 12th February 2019, a few days before the first UK wide Youth Strike 4 Climate (YS4C). A friend and I decided to organize one in our town; neither of us really knew what we were doing.

We tried to spread the word as much as possible, getting in touch with friends, local climate groups, and anyone else we could think of.

On Wednesday I got home from school to find that I had a message from a local newspaper reporter, asking me to get in touch with her. My parents and brothers were out, my friend wasn’t answering her phone and I was so scared of calling the reporter that I started to cry.

I wouldn’t describe myself as shy, but phoning adults that I don’t know definitely isn't my strong point.

Even though I look back on this in bemusement knowing I had nothing to cry about because it turned out fine, I see this as the first obstacle I faced in my climate activism journey.

I knew that sooner or later I would have to talk to her, so once I had stopped crying I spoke to my parents and they suggested that I take notes on what I was going to say.

Half an hour later I called her back with my notebook in front of me and a plan of the points I wanted to make. After 10 minutes it was over. Problem solved. As it turns out, I spent longer crying about it than actually doing it, but that doesn’t mean I was wrong to be worried and it doesn’t make me weak.

If I had rushed straight into the call, I wouldn’t have thought to prepare; I would have missed out on important information and not made myself clear. The fact that I found it challenging meant that I was forced to slow down and think.

Sometimes facing obstacles can work to our advantage- they give us opportunities to grow, learn new skills, and become more confident (even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time).

Nevertheless, they are still daunting, and at times overwhelming, so I wanted to share some tips that I’ve learned over the last year and a half in the hope that you will also find them useful.

I’m not a therapist or medical professional, and this step-by-step advice is written purely based on my own experiences so it may not work in every situation, but I hope this can help you in overcoming some of the challenges you are facing.

1. Acknowledge your feelings -

Don’t be afraid to admit to yourself that you’re not feeling 100% ok, and don’t keep those emotions locked inside you. There’s no shame in crying like I did, or taking a break to calm down and gather your thoughts. We all have emotional needs; this doesn’t make us weak.

2. Talk to others - 

Whether you want practical advice or just someone to talk to, this can really help you reflect on the problem and how to manage it. If you can’t think of anyone to reach out to, you could try talking to a teddy bear or your reflection.

3. Break the problem down into smaller sections

Focusing on the problem as a whole can easily get overwhelming, but if you zoom into exactly what you’re worried about it can seem a lot more manageable. (For me this was accidentally saying the wrong thing in the article.)

4. Come up with solutions to these smaller problems - 

Have a drink, take some deep breaths and try to come up with some small actions that you or others can take to solve these obstacles one by one. It can be useful to ask for someone else’s input on this if you’re struggling to come up with ideas and this is making you more stressed. Once again - there’s no shame in asking others for help.

Hopefully, these simple steps have helped you successfully face your problem and it’s no longer worrying you. However, it’s not over yet; there’s still a few more things you can do so that next time an obstacle comes your way you feel more prepared to deal with it:

5. Keep practicing your new skills & learning new ones -

Try to incorporate whatever you have learned during the last four steps into your regular life, and strengthen the skills that you struggle with the most. For example, I still take notes and make sure I’ve reminded myself of all the facts before I do an interview, and I’ve attended media training to learn how to effectively get my points across and how to cope with interview anxiety.

6. Create a supportive and compassionate atmosphere - 

If you’ve ever felt like you didn’t have someone to turn to, it’s likely that someone you know has felt that way before as well. It can be hard to take the first step, but if you’re able to share your experiences and create a conversation about dealing with issues such as stress and anxiety, you could encourage others to do the same and come up with ways to support each other.

- Written by Clare (Skill sharing [UWCBASF project] Community member from UK)
- Edited by Mridul Goyal (EMN Community Member From New Delhi, India)

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