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Navigating Eco-Anxiety

Navigating Eco-Anxiety

by Liz Warren, Stillpoint Admin

Earth Day is this week on Friday, April 22nd. This is a day to celebrate Earth and its beauty as our home, but this year I feel much less inclined to “celebrate”. Mainly because there is a lot of negativity and uncertainty surrounding climate change and the future of our planet and people. With that being said, I notice my anxiety about Earth and the future is at an all time high.

The hardest part about being an environmentalist these days is the feeling that we as individuals have no control in making actual, environmental change and that collectively we are running out of time. When all these thoughts become too overwhelming or begin to affect daily life, this anxiety is called Eco-Anxiety. Eco-Anxiety is defined by the American Psychological Association as “the 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 next generations.”

Unfortunately, there is no “quick fix” to climate change and other environmental problems, therefore no “quick fix” to Eco-Anxiety. However, there are things that can be done to ease Eco-Anxiety. Recognizing that your thoughts and feelings are valid is the first step. Some other tips include:

Do What You Can: The thought of “am I doing enough” can haunt us. Remember that every action, big or small, is still something to be proud of. You are just one person. It’s important not to shame yourself for not being able to do everything. You can start small by introducing a new, sustainable habit you are able to do in your personal life. There are a ton of Youtubers and influencers that use their platform to educate about sustainability if you would like inspiration. Small actions add up!

Practice Self-Care: Allow yourself to take a break from the negativity and focus on what brings you joy. Ignoring what’s going on isn’t the answer, but you are allowed to focus on something else for a moment. This could look like spending time in nature, practicing your hobbies, or focusing on the good news (because there is some!). Your mental health matters too!

Seek Out Support: Eco-Anxiety can be overwhelming and makes us feel out of control and hopeless. It can be especially hard to be alone with these thoughts. Talking with other people who share these views can help to relieve stress. Seeking support from a therapist may also be the right move. They can help you look at the future in less frightening ways and help you learn skills to lessen the mental distress.

Eco-Anxiety may not be avoidable in these times, but there are ways we can find peace and ease our minds. If you find yourself feeling anxious this Earth Day, remember that sustaining our planet also means learning to sustain ourselves.

– Read more on this topic from the American Psychological Association: https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/2017/03/mental-health-climate.pdf
– Also check out @circularitycommunity on Instagram; “a community hub for tacking eco-anxiety”