Eco-anxiety: Mental health issues caused by climate concerns
Climate change and environmental disasters can cause immense amounts of anxiety. This stress actually has a name of its own: Eco-anxiety. Eco-anxiety can be described as “a feeling of worry about threats to the environment, such as pollution and climate change” (Oxford Dictionary). However, eco-anxiety can run much deeper than that. Not only will a person feel a sense of worry, but also feel depressed, or helpless. Eco-anxiety can be so overwhelming that it affects a person’s everyday life, causing them to lose focus on relationships, or to have panic attacks. The causes of eco-anxiety include climate change, natural disasters, and concern for the future of the environment.
Advice for Dealing with Eco-Anxiety
Eco-anxiety does not have to be a debilitating or lifelong stressor. There are small things you can do in your daily life to relieve some anxiety. First, commit to sustainable practices will diminish some stress. Consistent recycling, composting, and reusing items will reduce your carbon footprint. Also, small things like turning off lights when you leave a room, ensuring your taps are off, or keeping the thermostat at a reasonable temperature will also help your carbon footprint. These suggestions will help anxiety regarding your own contribution to climate change. For larger aspects of eco-anxiety, some things will be out of your control. You cannot control the carbon productions or toxic waste of large companies, but you can control how often you consume that information. Be selective about how often you watch the news, or consume social media posts regarding climate change or natural disasters.
Eco-anxiety may seem to be relentless and hard to overcome; however, there are so many small options to help resolve some fear. You may not be able to control climate change, but you can control your levels of anxiety. It is also important to remember that you are not alone in this stress.
My Experience with Eco-Anxiety
Personally, eco-anxiety is something I struggle with. I often feel that climate change is a never-ending, explosive issue that I can do nothing about. When I watch the news, I see these terrible disasters across the world and the people affected by it. Sometimes I feel almost helpless. There are a few things I have found that help with my eco-anxiety. The first thing that has helped is talking to a therapist. Therapy is still an extremely taboo subject; however, it is very helpful especially in stressful times. Contrary to belief, you do not need to have a diagnosed mental illness to see a therapist. You can book an appointment with someone whenever you feel necessary. Therapy is an opportunity to talk about these stressors and also get feedback from an outside perspective on how to feel better. Another thing that has helped me is that I have been speaking to friends and family about my anxiety revolving around climate change. Quickly, I found many of my friends are feeling the same way. Finding people with similar anxieties helped me feel like I wasn’t alone in this fight.
Oxford Learners Dictionaries. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/us/definition/english/eco-anxiety?q=eco-anxiety
Young Upstart. Eco Anxiety. 2023. https://www.ecoanxiety.com/what-is-eco-anxiety/
Iberdrola. Eco-anxiety, Solastalgia, and Fear of Climate Change. https://www.iberdrola.com/social-commitment/what-is-ecoanxiety#:~:text=The%20American%20Psychology%20Association%20