What Is Eco-Anxiety and How To Deal With It
Climate change is no longer a far-off worry that generations to come will have to live with. Changes in weather that lead to flooding, droughts, and other more intense natural disasters aren’t anything new. But the different ways it is wearing on our collective mental health is something we’re talking about more and more.
Eco-anxiety, as defined by American Psychology Association (APA), is chronic fear of environmental cataclysm that comes from observing the seemingly irrevocable impact of climate change and the associated concern for one’s future and that of the next generations.” Yes, eco-anxiety is a real thing. So today, we’re going to take a look at how climate change impacts our mental health and different ways to deal with eco-anxiety before it becomes too overwhelming.
The Impact of Climate Change on Mental Health
It might seem like climate change and mental health are two totally separate issues. After all, what do extreme weather patterns have to do with our emotional, psychological, and social well-being?
There are many different ways the two are interconnected. Climate change is a global crisis that impacts society as a whole. We worry for our immediate future but also for future generations. Stressing about how this will impact our children and grandchildren takes a toll on our health right now. Not to mention the ripple effect that comes with changes on a major scale like job losses, drought, famine, and economic upheaval.
Another, more direct, impact of climate change on mental health comes by way of personally experiencing extreme-weather-related trauma. Take hurricane Ian for example. Over 100 lives were lost, and millions were impacted when they lost power for an extended period of time. The stress and anxiety of being without shelter, power, food, clean drinking water, or even losing your life because of extreme weather definitely impacts people’s emotional and psychological well-being.
Not all climate change has instant and devastating impacts. But that doesn’t mean eco-anxiety ceases to become a real problem for some people.
How to Deal with Eco-Anxiety
There is no one-size-fits-all answer when it comes to dealing with eco-anxiety. But there are a few solutions you can implement right away.
Focus on what is in your control
There is a fine line between being aware of how climate change impacts our life and community and letting that awareness turn into anxiety. Society didn’t find itself in this climate crisis overnight, and the solutions to these problems will take just as long. Focus on what you can do to combat climate change by reducing your carbon footprint and recycling.
Talk about it
Something as simple as talking about it with your therapist or friends or educating yourself on a broader platform can make a difference. Talking about climate change and the reality of eco-anxiety not only spreads awareness but can help relieve you of carrying those worrisome feelings all on your own.
Limit your exposure
We’ve all been there and done it. The urge to doomscroll can be strong, but information overload is overwhelming. Especially when we’re bombarded with negative and worrisome news day in and day out. Being aware of what is going on in our world and taking action to create change is responsible, but it shouldn’t overwhelm you. If you’re feeling anxiety edging in because of constant exposure, consider taking a step back.