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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at FSU chapter.

September is Self-Care Awareness Month and as some people indulge in different ways to protect their health, environmental developments force others to remain aware of the necessity to protect and stay protected from the ongoing changes to the climate. Wildfires, severe weather events and the aftermaths of climate-related related disasters within the past two years have all contributed to a global decline in mental health. Several efforts are being made to spread knowledge of this issue and provide the public with coping mechanisms, both physical and mental.

Climate disasters have become frequent and more destructive. The heat waves in the West are hitting record-breaking numbers, reaching 110 degrees Fahrenheit. NASA reveals that there has been up to 12 trillion metric tons of Antarctic ice loss contributing to rising water levels, and as this sparks fears of flooding, Kentucky is experiencing it firsthand. Several recovery attempts are being made for those for whom relocation is not an option. While this is recent, it does not exclude the damage not yet repaired from previous events like hurricanes Laura and Ida in Louisiana, where the community is still recuperating from destruction not seen since Hurricane Katrina. The same notion goes for the wildfires plaguing California in the last few years. Studies on mental illness statistics following a climate-related related disaster have been conducted to discover the psychological aftermath of these events.

Evaluations of mental disorders related to climate change are still a growing field of study, but there is evidence of the effects certain weather-related related events can bring on. Extreme heat, for example, has attracted peer-reviewed research on its link to violence and aggression. Floods, being one of the most reoccurring natural disasters, have been studied to reveal that 20 percent of victims had been diagnosed with depression and 36 percent with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The same study noted similar aftereffects, with 33 percent of Californian wildfire victims showing symptoms of major depression and 24 percent showing PTSD. A narrative review on the impacts of disaster on mental health describes the cause of these disorders occurring. It reiterates the idea that loss of routine and stability is disruptive and can lead to extreme cases of anxiety and depression. However, this is not exclusive to victims of these events; there is validity to the anxiety and fear of experiencing these disasters in the future.

Although self-care is not a cure for mental illnesses or disorders, it has many benefits that can alleviate stress. Regulating emotions is an excellent starting point, which can mean finding outlets to express pent-up feelings or building a routine to regain a sense of stability. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests prioritizing sleep and future goals. In a time of distress, listening to the body and mind is key. Avoiding triggers is also recommended; since misinformation and negative viewpoints are often present online, social media breaks are helpful. Small steps, such as building an emotional and social support system, can be crucial to navigating emotions during difficult times. The Good Grief Network is a nonprofit organization tailored to provide support groups with the tools needed to cope with grief and other heavy sentiments related to the current state of our climate. Self-care can be anything from extra sleep to therapy. The main goal is to create a safe environment for anyone in need.

Climate change prevention goes beyond physical efforts to aid nature; it also includes efforts to protect mental health. Self-care can be applied in any stage of need, and as awareness spreads, there can be a greater understanding of its necessity. There are endless resources, both online and in-person to help if needed. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a free, 24/7 national helpline that provides treatment referral and information services at 1-800- 662- HELP (4357). Do not wait or be ashamed to practice self-care. 

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I'm a junior majoring in Public Relations. I'm an avid writer, although my niche is my personal column that recommends songs and new upcoming artists. I love making Spotify playlists, Pinterest poetry and all things Taylor Swift!