How to Deal With Eco-Anxiety

How to Deal With Eco-Anxiety

By Bronagh Loughlin

When it comes to climate change, we have long passed the warning signs. Over the past number of years, communities have been destroyed, people and animals have died as a result of various climate disasters, and vital species have disappeared.

Mental health issues are highly prevalent in our society and with climate change becoming a pressing concern, many people are experiencing eco-anxiety. While it may sound like a cutesy made up term, unfortunately, eco-anxiety is very real and can greatly impact a person’s life.

If you have been lucky enough to escape this form of anxiety, let us explain exactly what it is.

The term was coined by researchers to describe a type of anxiety that involves sufferers feeling intense fear and panic over environmental disasters and damage. Put simply, individuals with eco-anxiety experience bouts of anxiety when it comes to environmental issues. For example, rising sea levels, floods, droughts, or the degradation of nature may be some triggers that set the anxiety off.

This type of anxiety, however, is very much dependent on the current and predicted future of the environment. In saying that, with climate change being largely caused by humans, individuals experiencing eco-anxiety may put themselves under extreme pressure.

They may feel such enormous concern about the state of the planet that they overly attempt to reduce their own individual impact. When they slip up, they may beat themselves up and further exacerbate their anxiety. Just as it is never wise to bottle up your emotions, eco-anxiety shouldn’t be bottled up either.

Ways to cope and reduce your eco-anxiety.

Now that you know the significant impact eco-anxiety can have on an individual and what it involves, let’s get into how you can deal with it and reduce it to give yourself some much-needed TLC!

While solving climate change relies on changes within our society, from our governments and businesses, we too as individuals can make a real difference. We can engage in many actions that reduce our own environmental impact but also to reduce our eco-anxiety.

Although this will not rid you entirely of eco-anxiety, it is sure to help you in the sense that you are taking responsibility for your own impact and doing the best you possibly can.

Firstly, Don’t Bottle It Up Before we get into individual actions you can engage in to help the environment, it is essential to look after your own mental health and wellbeing first. Next, learn to identify what triggers your eco-anxiety.

For example, some people experience eco-anxiety simply by watching the news and witnessing horrific climate events. While for others, seeing a group of people walking around with plastic bags may be enough to set them off.

Whatever your triggers may be, you should try and stay away from them whenever possible. After all, it will only cause you to feel more overwhelmed with emotions, and unfortunately, these feelings are not what will accelerate real change.

If you’re not already doing so, take individual action.

For a lot of people, taking individual action reduces these feelings of anxiety and uselessness. It enables them to feel as though they are making a difference and doing the best they can.

Some actions you could engage in may include opting for a planet-friendly diet, volunteering with your community to pick up litter, or joining an environmental organisation in addition to being an Earth advocate.

Educate yourself to empower others.

Learning about climate change and educating yourself on how you and your community can make a difference can be beneficial. This will enable you to encourage your community and others to make changes and act against the environmental crisis.

In addition, you can educate those who do not have extensive knowledge about climate change and sustainability. Remember, knowledge is power!

Know when you should switch off.

If you are dealing with bouts of eco-anxiety and are experiencing a time of severe overwhelm, sometimes it is best to disengage. Otherwise, it will likely get worse. It is essential to know when to do it.

While it is crucial to act and use your voice, take some time away from the media and social media to refresh and clear your head. Go out into nature or exercise for some relief. These activities will also contribute to reducing your anxiety.

Be positive

It is natural to experience negative thoughts if you are dealing with eco-anxiety and, as a result, depressive moods. However, try to remain positive. Your positivity is infectious and will encourage more people to get involved.

Being positive may also help you to cope better with your emotions and reduce your anxiety directly.

Deep breaths in and out

Eco-anxiety is experienced by many due to climate change. While we know a lot of what we are suggesting is easier said than done, it is critical to not only care for the earth but your well-being also.

Be sure to educate yourself to empower others and reduce your impact, but remember it is okay to take some time away and disengage. Although individual actions are necessary, governments and businesses need to get onboard to truly tackle climate change. Therefore, you should never carry all this pressure on your shoulders alone.

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