What is climate anxiety? Climate anxiety is a fairly recent term used to describe the negative emotional responses associated with the awareness of climate change. It may also be referred to as eco-anxiety, climate distress or climate change anxiety.
When I first began my zero-waste journey, it was all that consumed my mind. My Instagram feed was filled with ‘perfect’ zero-wasters and every scroll would show me new things I should be doing to reduce my waste. It quickly became overwhelming and I wanted to quit. Sometimes I would wish that I could unlearn everything I had learned just so I would have some peace in my mind again. Ignorance is bliss after all.
Even if you are not actively looking for information on the climate crisis, these days it can be hard to avoid it. Devastating fires in Australia, 1 million species facing extinction, rising temperatures across the world, flooding in Bangladesh. It’s difficult not to become overwhelmed and worried when we are constantly seeing these kinds of headlines. Climate anxiety is real and it’s important to talk about it. As with most problems, acknowledging its existence and talking about it are the first steps to overcoming it. Find someone you trust and start a conversation. Once you acknowledge how you feel, it will be far easier to determine how you can take care of yourself.
Don’t get me wrong, the current state of the world still breaks my heart and I worry for the future of our beautiful planet. But, over the years I have found ways to help me cope with my climate anxiety and protect my (already fragile) mental health.
Make a list of your achievements. When you are feeling overwhelmed, it can start to feel hopeless and you may forget all the great things you have already done. Write them down and put them somewhere you can see often to remind yourself how wonderful you are!
Don’t compare yourself to anyone else. This may include people on social media, friends, family, colleagues or even strangers. Everyone is completely different so there really is no point in comparing your own journey to someone else’s. You have no idea what someone else has been through to get where they are.
Remember it is not all up to you. This is a big one.The climate crisis is not something that can be solved by one person! Yes, it is important for individuals to make changes for the better, but it is also important for the big guys to be held accountable too. It has been estimated that just 100 companies are responsible for over 70% of global emissions!
Focus on the little things. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time! Start small (think, replacing single use water bottles with a reusable one) and work your way up from there. Stop if you need a break before moving to something else.
Know your limits. It may seem tempting to drive an extra hour just to go to your nearest zero waste shop, but that will soon become unsustainable and may lead to more feelings of overwhelm. Why not settle for buying in bulk at your local supermarket instead? Do what works for you and your situation.
Take a break from the news. Enough said.
Actively seek out good news stories. It’s important to incorporate positivity in to your journey, it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom! For example, did you know that the mountain gorilla population has continued to increase in recent years which lead to its down-listing from critically endangered to endangered in 2018?
Please remember that you are never alone. If you are struggling, please reach out to someone who can help.
Vetlife – https://www.vetlife.org.uk/
Samaritans – https://www.samaritans.org/