Among ten thousand young people from Australia, Brazil, Finland, India, Nigeria, Philippines, Portugal, the UK, and the USA, around 84% of them face at least a moderate amount of anxiety about climate change, while 59% felt extremely worried about it. However, how much do you really know about eco-anxiety, as such a common issue we face?
Eco-anxiety is mainly identified as a fear of ecological disaster, and environmental damage that originates from our current and predicted future reality, caused by human-induced nature degradation. Similar to acrophobia, dentophobia, and other fears we commonly encounter, this response to ecological changes is a natural, reasonable and normal reaction to danger.
However, feeling anxious about environmental crises is sometimes misdescribed as a mental health problem for a reason: excessive anxiety and concern might take a toll on our mental health. In fact, more than 4,500 respondents from the research stated that climate anxiety has negatively affected their daily life functioning.
Negative thoughts about climate change alongside nervousness can be connected to various emotions, including worry, fear, anger, despair, guilt and shame, as well as hope. The strong sense of these feelings is associated with influencing impacts on our daily activities. For instance, those feeling eco-anxiety may often face sleeping quality degradation or shortened temper. In more serious cases, eco-anxiety can be linked to suffocation or even a number of mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, panic attacks, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
But wait… are you now worrying about your own eco-anxiety? Don’t overanalyse your own feelings of anxiety or focus on your advocacies – in most cases, the fret over environmental changes is a healthy symbol of caring and concern about nature. We just need to remember to prioritise our mental and physical health during the process.
People best contribute to environmental efforts when they are psychologically and physically healthy. So, if supporting environmental issues ever becomes a burden for you, feel free to approach professionals, take a break or adjust your living habits accordingly.
If you’re looking for some tips to cope with eco-anxiety, keep reading! We have some suggestions for you…
1. Take Action.
Some hands-on activities may transfer your attention from the severity of environmental problems to the positive effects that could result from practical projects.
2. Connect With Nature.
Enjoying nature responsibly can help you find peace and relieve yourself from stressors. In the process, you may just re-discover the resilience and vitality of nature.
3. Seek Lifestyle Changes.
Maintaining healthy and eco-friendly routines, such as reducing the usage of vehicles and walking, are essential to cope with anxiety and negative thoughts, all while improving health.
Day by day, you may be surprised by how a small habit can contribute to our lives and advocacies!
4. Join A Community.
Knowing that you are not the only one who cares deeply for our Earth, can find you in the company of supportive friends. Interpersonal connections can reduce our perceived negative feelings and enhance our ability to discuss symptoms of eco-anxiety.
The famous young activist, Greta Thunberg once said: “No one is too small to make a difference.” Even though everyone shares the responsibility to improve our current situation, don’t forget that this climate crisis is a severe issue, one we are all facing worldwide. Being overly concerned may lead to psychological, emotional and behavioural burnout – which wouldn’t help us either.
Remember that we can’t fix everything by ourselves instantaneously. The power of small actions and a large community could ease the process, and open doors to a brighter future and a healthier environment.