If you ever find yourself constantly thinking about the effects of pollution and reading every news article about the devastating effects of climate change and biodiversity loss, chances are you’re going through eco-anxiety, and it’s completely normal to go through it.
But worrying does more harm than good. Eco-anxiety is starting to take a toll on our mental health. It can cause stress and people can also feel a sense of guilt.
According to the Natural History Museum, eco-anxiety is defined as a “chronic fear of environmental doom” and a fear of what could happen if we don’t take action now. Young people are feeling the effects of eco-anxiety all over the world, and many feel powerless to make a positive change in a meaningful way.
How do we deal with it?
The uncertainty and dangers of the future of the earth can enable people to put their heads in the sand and get away from the constant reminders. This feeling of powerlessness that we all feel can be overwhelming, but there are some things you can do to deal with these feelings instead of letting them take over your mind.
One of the best ways to deal with eco-anxiety is to take action on an individual level.
Making small changes to your lifestyle – such as using cars less often, recycling more, air drying your clothes and making diet changes- can help you be more aligned with your morals and values. You’re doing everything you can to contribute to saving the planet for our future and it may be that there isn’t a lot more you can do about it, so the best thing for your own mental health is to work on worrying less.
If you feel strongly, you could also take action as a group by joining peaceful protests or action groups and increasing awareness of the issues to big companies and governments. Being able to use your platform to make a difference can help process climate anxiety.
Climate protest in Portsmouth: photo by Charlotte Gager
Read some positive climate news
All of the work that we have done recently to help the environment is actually making a massive difference and it’s not all negative.
The bad news is talked about a lot more than good news, so take some time to read about all of the amazing things that have happened due to human intervention- trust me, good things are happening more than you think.
For example, you can read some positive news from 2022 right here, there is hope!
Talk about it
It is very helpful to know that you’re not alone in this feeling.
Many of us are silently going through this anxiety. According toStephanie Collier at the Harvard medical school, it is therapeutic to join a support group or share worries with a close friend. Talking about our worries can make eco-anxiety easier to deal with and we will find that many people are feeling the same way.
It also feels therapeutic to learn breathing exercises to clear your mind and feel more present. Taking part in mindfulness techniques with others can help you become more grounded. The method that helps me is the ‘leaves on a stream’ exercise.
You can, of course, also volunteer in conservation and help protect and restore biodiversity around the world.
Contributing to conservation work around the world may seem small, but it makes a big difference over time and more importantly, can make you feel like you’ve contributed to creating a better world!
For more information about WorkingAbroad’s volunteering programmes, read through the volunteer abroad projects that are available and read our previous blog post about ethical volunteering. There are so many different programs available all over the world that improve the lives of many and conserve natural wildlife. If you’re concerned about the impact of flying on your carbon footprint, there are so many things you can do to offset it and reduce your carbon footprint in other ways.