If you found yourself reading this post, you are either curious about eco-anxiety or are looking for coping mechanisms to deal with it. Many of us cannot define it, but we know how it feels. I didn’t know of the term eco-anxiety until recently, but I felt it longer than I was aware of its definition.
Before you read further: when I discuss eco-anxiety, I am referencing the feeling of anxiety not the disorder. If you have severe symptoms or cannot find peace, please consult a healthcare professional. This post will offer coping mechanisms to try, but sometimes that is not enough and it is okay to seek help.
Eco-anxiety can feel like waves of dread and panic when thinking about the future of our planet, our home. This feeling of anxiety focuses solely on environmental disaster and destruction.
We need to acknowledge that our well-being and mental health are a cost of the climate crisis.
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What Causes Eco-Anxiety?
Healthline refers to eco-anxiety as concerns for the future of the Earth and the life on it. There are many sources or triggers for your eco-anxiety. Let’s discuss some of them.
The media can be the sole or driving cause for eco-anxiety. We live in a time where climate change is a hot topic, and rightfully so. The issue with the media is the majority of news use triggering headlines as clickbait as a business model.
It’s unfortunate that many news outlets take this route. It is important to stay informed during this climate emergency, but it is more important to be educated and given hope. I will explain how to do this in the coping strategies below.
Living With Climate Change and Guilt
We are living in a climate emergency and even if you’re avoiding the media, it is probably on your mind.
Now that we are more aware of our impacts and footprints, it is easier to feel guilty and worried about our everyday actions and consumption.
It is clear that we cannot avoid becoming overwhelmed by climate change, but we can find ways to handle and cope with the anxiety created by it.
Coping with Eco-Anxiety
Align Your Life With Your Values
Eco-anxiety and eco-guilt are often confused due to their deep connection. I know that some of my eco-anxiety comes from feeling like I’m not doing enough to help the planet.
Your circumstances and lifestyle will dictate what you can and cannot do at this time, but one thing you can try is to add more eco-friendly practices into your life.
However, every action matters and you should feel good even if you’re an imperfect environmentalist (and spoiler alert: we all are).
Use Your Power
If you want to act now and act safely, you can use your power which is your voice and influence.
Educate yourself, voice your opinions, teach others, get involved, stay informed, etc. Do what you can as a person living in a climate emergency which can set you up for success when you have the means and opportunity to adjust your lifestyle.
Look inward for this power, it is not material.
Find a Community
Finding like-minded people is crucial to having hope and fueling positivity.
The people you surround yourself with matter, both in the real and digital world. I created Following Alexx to help be part of that community and I even made a separate Instagram where I dedicate my posts and following people and pages that educate, spread positivity, and are interested in the same things I am.
Distance yourself from anyone or anything that loads you with toxic energy and try finding a community where you can go and maintain a healthy mental state.
Use Educated and Positive Media
Earlier, I discussed how the media can play a huge role in eco-anxiety. The hard part of addressing this is that it’s not simple enough to just stop being informed. You should take a break when you’re feeling overwhelmed, but ignoring the climate crisis completely will cause more harm in the future.
My recommendation is to find a news outlet or source where you can get your information in a healthy way. In fact, I try to mute and block harmful news accounts to prevent them from appearing on my feeds.
I use Carbon Brief to provide daily reports and important news because I trust their sources and information.
If you have any other recommendations, please comment below!
Spend Time in Nature
My entire brand is helping people connect with nature while I learn to best connect myself.
Nature can offer many health benefits especially to alleviate ecological anxiety.
Talk to Others
You can turn to friends, family, peers, or even your newfound community and tell them how you’re feeling.
More people feel eco-anxiety than you know and some people have not figured out where this feeling is coming from yet.
You’re not alone so you don’t have to be alone.
Speak to a Professional
My final advice is for anyone who feels eco-anxiety intensely or cannot find a way to feel better. Reach out to a professional.
There comes a point when you need more than advice from a blog to feel better, that is when you can consult someone who is trained and qualified to help you!
If you do not have the funds or resources to find a therapist, you can find several online options and even a chat line to speak to someone.
Eco-anxiety is hard to avoid, so it is important that we lift each other up and take care of ourselves.
Learn to cope and keep pushing forward, this is not the time to become discouraged. Instead, become empowered.