Renewable Energy of Emotions

At this station, you’ll find out how to give yourself energy when you’re feeling helpless about climate change by generating different ideas.


By recognizing ideas, feelings & actions that fuel energy, and those that drain energy, participants will develop new awareness of their reactions and ways of increasing their energy.


  • Post-it notes (or pieces of paper with tape)
  • A big wall or table divided into two areas, label one “Drains Your Energy” and the other “Fuels Your Energy” — in each area, add 5-10 examples following the directions below
  • Activity Instruction Sheet (optional) click to download


  1. When you think about climate change… what drains your energy? For example, “thinking it’s hopeless” or “feeling stuck” or “people not taking it seriously.” Write one idea per sticky note and add it with the others in the “Drains Your Energy” section. Try to be as specific with real examples of what has affected your energy.
  2. Next, do the same for what fuels your energy, such as “walk in nature,” “tell someone how I feel,” or “organize a protest.” Again, try to be as specific with real examples.
  3. Now, talk to someone else about the ideas with the discussion questions below.



  • What are some feelings that you experience reading what’s on  the “Drains Your Energy” side?
  • “Climate anxiety” is a feeling of a large, maybe uncontrollable worry, about the future of the earth. Looking at the “Drains Your Energy” side, how much Climate Anxiety do you feel?
  • What are some feelings that you experience reading what’s on  the “Fuels Your Energy” side?
  • If you have difficult feelings such as anxiety, grief, despair, or anger… What are some healthy or useful options of what to do with those feelings?
  • Are there ideas on the Fuels Your Energy list that can help you when you’re feeling low? What is something from  the Fuels Your Energy list that you’d like to try out?




To explore the physical sensations of “Fuel” and “Drain” ask participants to stand on one foot (or to stand on a balance-board) and read the list of What Drains Your Energy, and then ask them how that felt. Often it’s hard to stay balanced when reading these items. Repeat for the other list; often people find that reading the second list they feel physically more balanced and strong. Discuss why this might be? 

For older students, the extension above can be linked to learning more about the brain. One of the brain areas involved in emotion-processing is the basal ganglia, which is also involved in physical balance. Emotions have a physiological effect, sometimes described as a somatic effect. Neuroscientist Antonio Damasio wrote, “Emotions are embodied” because they are part of our regulatory system. See for videos about this.

Activity Source

Joshua Freedman & Maria Jackson

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About this activity…







5-20 minutes