Coping with Eco-Anxiety: Taking Care of Yourself
Have you ever felt down or worried when thinking about the climate emergency? If the answer is yes, don’t worry, this is entirely normal and known as eco-anxiety. We are constantly exposed to imagery of melting ice caps, floods, wildfires, and droughts; this is bound to take a toll on our emotions and can leave us with a sense of despair.
Thinking about the climate crisis fills me with various emotions, including hopelessness, grief, anger, and fear. These feelings are rational, so don’t worry; you’re not crazy! Common signs of eco-anxiety include a low mood, helplessness, anger, insomnia, panic, and guilt. Read more here. In contrast to depression or anxiety disorders, eco-anxiety is not a mental health condition and is an entirely rational response. However, it is vital to seek help if any of the symptoms become debilitating and prevent you from engaging in everyday activities.
Image Ref: The Guardian
Force of Nature discovered that over 70% of young people feel hopeless regarding the climate crisis, and 56% believe humanity is doomed. Eco-anxiety is especially prominent among young people, presumably because we’ll encounter more effects of the climate emergency than our parents or grandparents.
It can be easy to ignore and push these feelings away, but tuning into your discomfort and hopelessness can be valuable in bringing about change and tackling climate change. A good starting point can be to create a list, mind map or even a poem to explore the thoughts and feelings that come up when you think about the climate emergency. From there, you can take action and use your eco-anxiety effectively.
Speak with like-minded people
Talk to your friends or family and see if they are experiencing similar emotions. Alternatively, you can join one of many groups that focus on climate change, sustainable living and creating political change.
Here are a few, but there are much more online: Youth4Climate Leeds, Leeds Youth Voice, Extinction Rebellion Youth. In addition, there are dozens of organisations and groups you can get involved in locally on the Climate Action Leeds Page.
Make a change
Think about what you can do in your own life to tackle climate change and break these down into accessible and realistic behaviours, whether that may be avoiding buying fast fashion brands and opting for second-hand items, moving to a more plant-based diet, or exploring with your family how you can reduce your plastic use. Remember, you cannot single-handedly dismantle the climate crisis; unfortunately, we cannot all be Greta Thunberg. However, little steps you take can make a big difference!
Image ref: Imperial College London
Climate change is terrifying, and feeling scared, hopeless, or angry is completely normal – you are not alone. My tips are to talk to like-minded people, take steps to reduce your carbon footprint and look after yourself. Finally, try to go out into nature and enjoy our beautiful earth!