Climate anxiety | climate change | mental health | coping with climate change | seeking support
Thinking about environmental problems can stir up a storm of difficult emotions inside us.
Anxiety, anger, loss and grief, and dread are some of the feelings people might have about the state of our planet. These emotions might fluctuate over time. For example, they could become stronger when we’ve experienced an environmental loss or a disaster.
‘Climate Anxiety’ refers to the anxiety, worry and dread evoked by climate change.
If you’ve felt climate anxiety, you wouldn’t be alone. There is growing evidence that people around the world feel anxious about climate change. It is important to acknowledge that climate anxiety is a rational response to the state of our planet.
Anxiety helps us prepare and respond to threats. When we feel anxious about presenting at an important meeting or taking a test, our anxiety can help us be ready. The function of anxiety can be traced back to when we would encounter threats in the wild. To some extent, climate anxiety might be an important mechanism to help us protect the environment.
Like any form of anxiety, climate anxiety can become overwhelming. Some people might experience restlessness, sleep disturbance, panic, and their anxiety might start to impact their ability to enjoy time with friends and family or effect their work or study.
Because of this, it can be helpful to learn how to manage climate anxiety so that we don’t become overwhelmed by it.
What are some ways to cope?
1. Channelling your feelings
Find your purpose in the climate crisis. Whether it’s joining a community climate action project, researching climate change, advocating for sustainability at your workplace, your own pro-environmental behaviour or even supporting those who are impacted. Find out what works for you and channel that anxiety.
Watch a short video here to learn more.
2. Find your community
Climate change can sometimes make us feel isolated and like our individual behaviours won’t make a difference. Community can help to share the load and give us a sense of belonging. Find a community who you can collectively work together on things that are important to you. This can be in real-life or online. For example, joining climate action groups, participating in volunteering, or going along to communal activities like nature-walking groups and community gardening
Check in with yourself often. Ask yourself how you might be able to support yourself with eating, sleeping, exercising. Can you spend more time connecting to nature? Do you need a break from climate-content? If you do, know that you can always come back to it when you’re ready.
4. Get Support
It’s okay to reach out for support. Check in with someone that you trust, such as a friend, family member, or a health professional. You might also like to see a ‘Climate Aware Practitioner’.
By Tara Crandon