The word climate anxiety has been recently coined. It focused on anxiety felt by climate conscious people regarding their inability to change things enough. While fighting climate change is very important, fighting the impact of it on your life and mental health is a primary concern. I should add that no one has ever been able to make wise decisions leading to lasting changes while being mentally drained and anxious.
The anxiety can turn into a need to distance yourself from the topic or get even deeper and more annoyed by the climate wrecking actions, leading to a vicious circle. I have put together some resources to help fight this in a bit of a different style of article. Psychologists have become familiar with young patients asking them for support. The charity mind has an article on anxiety mentioning climate change.
Anxiety is caused by built up stress, pressure while studying or working and feeling isolated amongst other things. All these are events that happen when you are surrounded by negative news that climate conscious citizens absorb daily. The overwhelming effects of climate change are way beyond what one person can do so the inability to change things adds to the isolating feeling. Witnessing events that are beyond our help is incredibly overwhelming.
A few solutions that have helped me:
- Find a group who related to your cause to end the isolation and share common experiences.
- Spend time away from news – this advice could go for anyone.
- Look up positive climate news with WWF or Kathryn Kellogg from Going Zero Waste.
- Change what you can and accept the rest. Honestly acceptance is key, you cannot change it all when companies are the ones polluting the most.
- Set realistic goals dont be zealous. Impeding on your quality of life or setting unachievable goals will make you burnt out or broke in the long run. My groceries in the UK will have a lot of plastic until companies allow me to do differently and so it is.
- Forget about proselytism – preaching climate action. As mentioned above, the gap between your actions and words and what others do may be the root cause of your anxiety. Trying to convert others will only highlight the gap and make you worried for our future. Showing the way is more effective anyway.
- Understand where your anxiety comes from. Is it the lack of actions from your peers? The wrong doings of politicians? or the littering on the streets? This will help you tackle the issue too.
- Spend time away from what worries you. Turn off your phone, go to a nature area or away from where you live. Whatever works to get you into another frame of mind to enjoy the cause you fight for rather than it lead to anxiety.
By the way this topic is quite common online so if that did not suffice to help you checkout one of the 110,000,000 google findings on this!! If you need further help, consider that this can be serious and reach out to professionals.