Feeling anxious about climate change?
You're not the only one. Let’s talk about Eco-Anxiety.
Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, ecosystems are changing, and wildfires are becoming more frequent. If this stresses you out, you most likely have eco-anxiety.
What is eco-anxiety?
According to the Climate Psychology Alliance, yeah, that’s a thing, Eco-anxiety is the most frequently used term in literature and research to describe heightened emotional, mental or somatic distress in response to dangerous changes in the climate system.
In other words, eco-anxiety is the perfect word to describe anyone who suffers from anxiety when they hear about the climate crisis.
Why does eco-anxiety matter?
It matters because it affects everyone, and I mean EVERYONE literally. What do we mean by this? That no place on the planet is exempt from the problems we are facing environmentally.
Emma Beddington, a freelance journalist, stresses how even though climate change is a global issue, it can still feel quite isolating. Which leaves us feeling like we are all alone in this together.
Now that we are familiar with the term eco-anxiety, you might be wondering: what can I do about it? How do I deal with these feelings?
We got you.
Here's a few things you can do to deal with eco-anxiety:
• Stop panicking, understand the problem and inform yourself.
Eco-anxiety wakes you up to your vulnerability, but just remember you're only feeling this way because you're an empathetic, compassionate human being.
It's not a mental illness. It is a sign you care.
Something more effective would be to make sure the sources you’ve been informing yourself from are reliable. There are SO MANY fake news out there! It’s essential to be selective of what you read, see and listen to. This type of anxiety can be easily fuelled by unreliable sources. Therefore you must be careful.
We know it’s not easy, but don’t worry, we did some research and here are some resources you can look at:
The Climate Psychology Alliance - They are a group for anyone interested in making connections between depth psychology and climate change. Much of their core work is done through groups focusing on particular aspects or themes. In their website you can find lots of great resources to look through, they even have a Handbook of Climate Psychology! Here’s a direct link to their section on Eco-Anxiety.
Climate Psychiatry Alliance - They are a group of psychiatrists with a variety of experiences, united by the mission of assuring optimal mental health by preventing and mitigating climate change's impact on mental health. Their mission is to educate the professionals and the public about the urgent risks of the climate crisis and the profound impacts on mental health and well-being. Click here to see one of their featured articles on eco-anxiety.
You can also check out:
- Climate Psychology Alliance - North America
- Psychology for a Safe Climate
We also recommend you check out this podcast of Friends Of The Earth.
• Reflect, reconnect and get involved.
We know life gets busy at times, and even though we see the world heating up, literally, we don't do anything about it.
Instead, we just stress ourselves out thinking about all the negative things which are happening.
We cannot undo what's been done; focus your energy on what CAN be done.
Here are a few ways to get started:
• Connect with other people.
We can't stress this enough, this is a problem for the entire world.
Remember - Your mental health comes first and surround yourself with people who understand.
Support groups have proven to be highly effective when dealing with these emotions. It really does help to voice your concerns and find other people who share them.
The Good Grief Network has a 10-Step program which helps individuals and communities build resilience by creating spaces where people can lean into their painful feelings about the state of the world and reorient their lives toward meaningful action.
Click here to find out more.
• Go to a climate café.
Who knew this existed, but they do. And they're there to help you A climate café is a place where you meet with other people and take turns expressing how climate and ecological breakdown makes you feel. Click here and here to find out more about it. You can also join a climate café online.
• Join your local climate action group.
To find out how to get involved click here. You might be thinking, I'm not ready to meet with other people face to face, or there is not a climate café near me.
We obviously thought about this, because you know, COVID and all. There are many ways to join the conversation online and take action from home. Click here for some tips on how to take climate action now!
• Change the way you shop.
It can be as simple as just bringing your own reusable bags to the supermarket, and going to a zero waste store. Click here for the Best Zero Waste stores in the UK.
These things might feel small but trust me, they matter.
Small actions can make a huge impact.
So use your voice, you never know who might be listening to it.
Don't be scared; try to find out what's it about and do something with it.Don't try to get rid of it because it won't work.We live in a world that has a circular economy meaning every action has a global consequence.
That is Climate Change for you; nobody can escape it. We can only try to change the way we live our lives individually to create a global impact.
PS. The Climate Psychology Alliance is organising on the 16th of October here are the details.
“Around the world, one million plastic bottles are purchased every minute, while up to five TRILLION plastic bags are used worldwide every year. In total, half of all plastic produced is designed for single-use purposes – used just once and then thrown away.” - UNEP