Do you constantly worry about the environment? Do you get angry when someone doesn’t acknowledge the existence of climate change? Are you constantly checking and keeping tabs on air pollution, forest fires, rising sea levels, temperature increases, droughts, extreme weather phenomena, and more?
These thoughts and feelings could be fueled by eco-anxiety.
Not exactly sure what eco-anxiety is? No worries! Let’s take a look at eco-anxiety, what exactly it is, and why some people experience it.
What is Eco-Anxiety?
Eco-Anxiety is “a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease triggered by an awareness of the ecological threats facing the earth due to climate change.”
Eco-anxiety is directly associated with the impact of climate change. The current and future state of the environment can cause a lot of stress, fear, and anxiety for individuals experiencing eco-anxiety.
Why Do People Experience Eco-Anxiety?
Anxiety and eco-anxiety are both natural responses to threats. Eco-anxiety is most commonly found in individuals who are directly impacted by climate change. Individuals who live in places with extreme weather can face strains on their physical health, as well as their mental health.
Those who are regularly consuming media about climate change can also experience signs of eco-anxiety. The news, radio, and even social media channels are making people more aware of the issues at hand. This awareness is causing a spike in anxiety.
You may even be experiencing eco-anxiety from your own lifestyle. Some of your actions, like using plastic or eating a meat-heavy diet, may have contributed to climate change. The feelings of guilt, regret, and shame can add to your eco-anxiety. On top of that, you may feel helpless because you alone can’t solve climate change.
Signs of Eco-Anxiety
Eco-Anxiety can impact individuals in many ways. For most, the general symptoms and signs of anxiety can be present. Chronic or severe symptoms could include more serious health-related conditions like heart disease and high blood pressure.
Here are just a few ways that eco-anxiety can present itself:
- Appetite change
- Difficulty concentrating
- Loss of control
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Sleeping problems
- Substance abuse
Ways to Lessen Your Eco-Anxiety
One person’s efforts can’t solve climate change, but you can take the necessary steps to lessen your eco-anxiety about it. Here are a few ways you can work to reduce your eco-anxiety.
Take a Look at Your Personal Habits
Working to adopt a greener lifestyle will help ease some feelings you’re harboring about your own lifestyle and negative contributions to climate change. Try not to be so hard on yourself, especially for actions from your past. Forgive yourself, commit to making better choices in the future, and move onward and forward. Here are some easy ways to start on a greener path:
- Get involved in your community.
- Calculate your carbon footprint
- Grow your own produce
- Go paperless
- Use renewable energy
- Eat less meat
- Recycle and reuse
Connect with your community. You’re not alone in the feelings you have about climate change. Help your neighborhood or community build a garden. Participate in a trash clean-up day at your local park. Working with others towards a common goal will help you build a connection with like-minded individuals.
Talk It Out
One of the best things you can do to help ease your eco-anxiety is to talk it out. Getting your thoughts and feelings out in the open instead of keeping them in can be a huge relief in and of itself. Be honest with yourself. Share how you’re feeling with a family, friend, or therapist. Find a support system that works for you.