Home » Blogs » Pet Ways to Ease Stress » To Stress or not To Stress; a Polar Dilemma
Pet Ways to Ease Stress
with Jessica Loftus, Ph.D. & Jack Murray

To Stress or not To Stress; a Polar Dilemma

Environmental changes contribute to the depletion of the polar bears’ icy habitat each year, forcing us to swim great distances to find food and shelter. Tragically, many bears and cubs don’t survive these journeys. We need your help!

Until recently, The US exported almost half of its plastic recyclables to China, who processed the materials in their recycling plants. Early this year, China placed a ban on most US plastic recyclables because they do not meet new recycling standards. Now, some recycling companies divert plastic recyclables to landfills.

Please don’t waste time on tiny ice chips that don’t matter. Focus your energy on huge icebergs that do matter. The next time you find yourself stressing over an unlikely what-if scenario, take a moment to reflect on a real problem that is getting worse each minute – environmental changes causing harm to our planet, including the polar bear’s icy habitats.

To Stress or Not to Stress

Here are two questions to discern if a problem or situation is important enough to stress over.

  • Is this problem truly worth the emotional energy, time, finances or other resources that I am investing in it? Will this matter in 6 months or a year?  If so, how could it impact my life or the lives of others?  Clearly, the preservation of our environment deserves our time, efforts and productive stress.
  • What aspects of this problem are truly within my control? This includes specific actions I can take, my ability to influence others to take actions or my ability to change my attitude about a situation. I can improve my own recycling habits and I can encourage others to do the same.

When the Problem is not Worth the Stress

Let it go. Simply redirect your mind to focus on something else – PETS  😊 , laughter, children playing, flowers, trees, bubble baths, a delicious apple, the smell of burning leaves in Fall, good friends. If the nagging problem returns to your awareness, keep redirecting your attention.

Then, focus on a problem that is worth the stress.

When the Problem is Worth the Stress

  1. Define the nature of the problem in detail.

If we fail to address the problem of plastic recycling more effectively soon, we will run out of landfill space, pollute our water, air, soil and habitats to the point that no species will survive. We need to reduce our excessive production of waste.

  1. Define the aspects of the problem that are within your control.

Choose to engage in the mindfully green actions to Reduce, Re-Use, and Recycle.  Narrow the context of the problem to a manageable size.  For example, choose to be more mindful about the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles.

  1. Gather Information

Research information on the specific problems associated with plastic water bottles. In the US, far more plastic bottles are discarded each year than we have the capacity to recycle.  Some estimates suggest that most of these water bottles end up in landfills or on the bottom of the ocean.

  1. Brainstorm Options to Solve the Problem

Whenever possible, drink water from reusable containers at home, office or when dining out.  Encourage friends and family members to avoid using plastic bottles. Encourage local fast-food restaurants to serve beverages in reusable cups which can be returned. Organize a community event where attendees are encouraged to bring their own bottles and food vendors sell beverages in reusable cups to be collected and reused. Collect plastic bottles from others and find interesting reuses for them such as jewelry or home decorations.

  1. Outline a Plan of Action

Pursue one goal from your list of brainstorming options.  For example, strive to only drink water and beverage from reusable containers. Buy the necessary beverage containers for travel, water filters for home, beverages in glass jars and other needed items.

  1. Evaluate and Reassess

After a week, evaluate progress and adjust.  If your goal to use only reusable containers is met at least 90 percent, then start on a another goal.  If your goal is not met, re-evaluate your efforts, and outline a new plan of action.

We polar bears thank you for hearing us out.  Please help us before it’s too late.

Image is under license from Shutterstock.

To Stress or not To Stress; a Polar Dilemma

Jessica Loftus

Jessica Loftus has worked as a licensed clinical psychologist and national certified career counselor for more than 20 years. She currently offers counseling sessions via telehealth in Illinois. Her website,, outlines steps for making a career decision. details. See her retired blog, "Pet Ways to Ease Stress,"

One comment: View Comments / Leave a Comment



APA Reference
Loftus, J. (2018). To Stress or not To Stress; a Polar Dilemma. Psych Central. Retrieved on May 29, 2020, from


Last updated: 16 Sep 2018
Statement of review: Psych Central does not review the content that appears in our blog network ( prior to publication. All opinions expressed herein are exclusively those of the author alone, and do not reflect the views of the editorial staff or management of Psych Central. Published on All rights reserved.