Eco-anxiety is a feeling of overwhelming worry or stress related to the environment and the state of the world. It can be caused by several factors, including media coverage of environmental issues, personal experiences with climate change, and a general sense of powerlessness.
Symptoms of Eco-anxiety can include difficulty sleeping, irritability, and trouble concentrating. Some people may also experience physical symptoms such as headaches or chest pain.
While Eco-anxiety is not a formal diagnosis, it is a real and growing concern for many people. A 2013 study found that nearly one in four Americans felt significant anxiety about environmental issues. And it’s not just affecting adults – younger people are also feeling the strain, with many expressing worry about the impact of climate change on future generations.
According to a 2021 study published in The Lancet, 75% of youths aged 16-25 said the “future is frightening.” More than half think “humanity is doomed.”
45% of the 10000 study participants from 10 countries said their feelings about the climate crisis have negatively affected their ability to focus on day-to-day activities.
There is no single solution for Eco-anxiety, as different people have different needs in dealing with difficult circumstances. However, some general strategies can help.
Here are five ways to deal with Eco-anxiety:
1. Acknowledge the difficult emotions; they are normal
It’s normal to feel overwhelmed, frustrated, and even helpless when thinking about the climate crisis. The enormity of the problem can seem insurmountable, and it’s easy to feel like there’s nothing we can do to make a difference.
However, it’s important to remember that we are all in this together and that every little bit counts. We can do many things to help reduce our impact on the environment, and by working together, we can make a real difference.
So don’t be afraid to feel and express your feelings about the climate crisis – we all need to talk about it to find solutions.
2. Stay informed about climate issues
Knowledge is power. The solution to dealing with Eco-anxiety isn’t to bury our heads in the sand but to understand the issues and create solutions.
It can be a challenge to stay informed about the latest developments and news without despairing about the future. That’s why it’s important to take a balanced approach to learn about climate change.
One way to do this is by staying connected with trusted sources of information, such as scientific studies or news articles written by expert researchers.
Another critical factor is to ensure you don’t fall into the trap of constant negativity. Finding ways to engage with people and communities working towards solutions can help you feel more empowered and less overwhelmed by the enormity of the problem.
However, if staying informed makes your Eco-anxiety worse, cut it out for your mental and physical well-being.
3. Take action to make a difference
Once you know more about the issues, you can start taking steps to make a difference. Research ways to reduce your carbon footprint, join an environmental group, volunteer for a local clean-up project, or become an activist.
Each of us has a unique set of circumstances and experiences, so our actions will vary in their effectiveness and impact on the environment.
That said, there are some general steps that we can all take to reduce our carbon footprint and help mitigate the worst effects of climate change. One key action is to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Carpooling, taking public transit, or walking or biking to work are excellent ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
You can also look for more sustainable energy options in your home – solar panels, for example, can help generate power without relying on electricity from fossil fuels. Taking action helps you feel more positive about your role in the fight against climate change.
4. Practice self-care
If you are dealing with Eco-anxiety, it is important to make time for self-care. This might mean getting outside for a quick walk or regularly spending some time in nature. Check out these nature-inspired wellness routines for more ideas.
You might also find relief through practices like meditation or journaling.
Practice kindness and gratitude towards yourself, others, and the planet. By focusing on the simple joys of life, you can start to reconnect with your inner resilience and peace of mind.
Whatever methods you choose, staying mindful and taking intentional action can help minimize the impact of environmental stressors on your well-being. And remember that there is no right or wrong way to deal with Eco-anxiety – what works for one person may not work for another, so try out different practices and find what feels best for you.
5. Connect with others.
There are many people who feel just as concerned about the environment as you do. Connecting with others who share your same values and goals can be a great way to find support and build a community of activists.
There are many online and offline groups that you can join, or you can start your own group to make a difference in your local area.
Take a break
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the scale of the climate crisis. Every day, it seems like there’s another report of melting ice caps, disappearing wildlife, and extreme weather events.
All this news is enough to make anyone want to curl up in a ball and hide from the world. But while it’s important to stay informed about the state of the planet, it’s also important to take a break from the bad news now and then.
After all, there’s only so much doom and gloom a person can take. Just like we need to recharge our physical batteries, we also need to recharge our mental batteries. If you’re feeling drained by all the news about the climate crisis, don’t be afraid to take a break.
Though it’s important to stay informed, it’s much more critical to take care of yourself.